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On the 30th anniversary of the 1991 Christmas Costume Ball the video has been digitally remastered and saved for the future

December 9th, 1991 and Manchester's town hall had seen nothing like it. The Christmas Costume Ball was organised by the Village Charity which had been created the previous year. The purpose was to raise funds to help with HIV and AIDS.

Lots of people gave their time for free, including the performers. One of the co-founders of the Facts campaign made a video of the Ball.

This was on the understanding that copies would go on sale to raise funds. But that never happened and, a few years later, someone who had been close to the Charity said there had never been any intention of selling it. Who knows what the truth of it was?

The master recordings of the Christmas Costume Ball were made on an industrial format called SVHS (Super VHS). This gave picture quality somewhere between home video and broadcast TV. And high quality stereo sound.

Now, with equipment disappearing, there are just a few more years remaining in which to get tapes transferred. Soon even the once-ubiquitous VHS will pose a problem, let alone less-popular formats such as SVHS.

And it isn't only home recordings that are being lost. Recently it came to light that the broadcast tapes of the famous Channel 4 series of the 80s "Out On Tuesday" (later called just "Out") are nowhere to be found...

The two videotapes of the Ball are in great condition. Neverthless, the creation of a digital master gave the chance to fix some minor issues.

FooFoo Lamarr at the Christmas Costume Ball

FooFoo Lamarr in the video footage which runs for 120 minutes. You can get a sense of the quality of the new digital transfer from this image.

Video box for the Christmas Costume Ball 1991

The video box that was created for VHS copies of the tape in 1991. Designed on an Amstrad PCW! But in the end they were never put on sale.

In the past, video editing was always a copying process, with inevitable loss of picture quality. But with a transfer to uncompressed digital there is no such loss. We have equipment to stabilise the video signal and we can make repairs frame-by-frame if needed.

Manchester Pride has received many tens of thousands of pounds of Heritage Lottery Funding but doesn't seem to do anything like this. Despite a budget of zero, we think we've obtained the best transfer possible from these tapes.

One day in the distant future the video will probably end up in the North West Film Archive or somewhere similar.

Rosie-O and the Hellcats

If you have any information about Rozie-O and the Hellcats who appeared at the Christmas Costume Ball, get in touch. We would like to know more.

Factsheet 2022/23

2022 factsheet Our 2022 Factsheet (PDF) about Manchester Pride is available (there won't be a new factsheet for 2023). Read about your right to access the Gay Village without buying a wristband, history & opinion .

Download the PDF version.

And here it is as two images (handy for sharing on social media): page 1 | page 2

Our factsheet from 2021 is still well-worth a look. It has four pages of facts, gossip and fun. Download it as a PDF here. See our factsheets page for other years.

Useful reading

The ruling by the Local Government Ombudsman in April 2015 (PDF). The Ombudsman decided that Manchester City Council had exceeded its powers by mentioning wristbands in a traffic order and that it was unlawful to restrict access to premises (businesses and homes).

Minutes of a meeting at Marketing Manchester in November 2002. These show that those present were told they couldn't charge people to enter public streets. However some of them went ahead and did so from 2003 onwards for a decade.

At the meeting were: Manchester City Council, GHT, the LGF (now known as the LGBT Foundation), Marketing Manchester, the organisers of Europride 2003. The advice seems to have come from the police. Yet the police apparently then turned a blind eye...

This document was unearthed at the Library Archives quite recently by a FactsMCR campaigner.

The media

Since the ruling by the Local Government Ombudsman in 2015 the media — both LGBT and mainstream — have stayed silent about the decade-long wristband fiddle and your rights. So some people continue to pay unnecessarily.

All your favourites know: GayStarNews, Pink News, Manchester Evening News, The Guardian, BBC and many more. In a letter to us, the BBC defended its journalist right not to report this. The same BBC that championed consumer rights at one time now prefers to cosy up to the civil-rights-infringing Manchester Pride, as a "sponsor" (the BBC says it doesn't give money).

These organisations don't need to lie. They simply ignore an issue completely. Or, they report some of the facts; perhaps popping in just one or two bits they don't like, to add a fake impression of balance. That's how they manipulate opinion in the direction they think it should go.

The veteran ITV reporter John Pilger says that "not reporting" is the most powerful form of censorship.

What else aren't they telling us?