Having never picked up a dart in a bar until a year ago, where I had a delightful run of beginner's luck and obliterated everyone, this sport has long eluded my attention. But since the launch of these fairground-themed dens in London, Cardiff, Bristol, Birmingham and beyond, our nation's love of spearing a board with a drink in-hand has grown exponentially. Fancying myself the latest Michael Smith (sans bushy beard), I shimmied over to Flight Club Manchester to try their twist on darts.
I'd already clocked the fairground theme on socials before arriving, which culminates in a striking central bar, carousel horses for decoration and strings of lights arranged in rows or part-circles, but was pleased to see that the space still retained an element of style alongside the fun, colourful angle. Although I never imagined it would look quite so swish, with gorgeous leather seats behind oches and dark wooden panelling throughout - nor was I expecting the King Street venue to be so sprawling. On first impressions, this place was flying.
My group was trying out a favourite of Flight Club Manchester packages: Brunch Social (from £30 per person with darts). Our two-hour session was split between games in a private oche and filling up on endless streams of pizza paddles, with a bottle of prosecco each to boot. Seated at high tables near the bar, we were promptly served fizz, alongside orange juice to make mimosas, and the first lot of food for the afternoon. Oblong and boasting a fluffy, doughy crust, pizzas here more than hit the mark. First were the pepperoni slices, which had a complementary sweet kick that I couldn't quite place - perhaps honey? Regardless, it set the tone for what ended up being quite the feast.
Next up was the classic margherita with oh-so-fragrant basil, followed by a satisfying spicy 'nduja-topped one and a mushroom, spinach, and creamy soft cheese number once we were moved to our oche. Considering the Flight Club Manchester menu says that one paddle (costing up to £17.95) serves two people, we were blown away by the sheer amount of pizza we were served - even turning down the offer of more just before the end of our darts sesh. It really is unlimited. All this was washed down by our bottle of bubbles each, which wasn't too dry or biscuity - as is so often the case with those included in brunches.
Though it was really those interactive multi-player games we were here for. Our one hour of allotted time in front of the dartboard was enough to try every scenario available and pick a favourite to repeat before the end. From hitting certain zones to roll a number on the dice during Snakes & Ladders to games that tested consistency and even one where landing in your number moved your corresponding horse forward, these really kept us on our toes. We loved the action replays from scoring triples, getting bullseyes and checking out, which showed varying degrees of shock or celebration from the group. Being able to keep pictures and videos afterwards was a nice touch too.
Call us cruel, but our stand-out minigame had to be Killer. Here, each of us was given a number to hit three times before becoming a 'killer', then you'd turn your attention to other peoples' numbers to take out a life with every dart. Alliances were formed and battle lines drawn; luckily, I navigated the in-oche politics pretty well and this became my only first place win of the afternoon. After all the fun and food, those Flight Club Manchester prices for Brunch Social were looking very reasonable too. Either way though, it's fair to say my luck ran out and I finished dead last overall, but had an absolute blast while doing it.
The DesignMyNight Digest
If our Flight Club Manchester booking is anything to go by, then Brunch Social is an absolute must-do for groups after an exciting take on darts. Whether you won't take it too seriously or want to do a little victory dance when you eliminate someone from a game, you're sure to have a great time here. This visit has more than proven why trips here are so popular, and with everything that's included, it's well-priced too.
💰 The damage: £120 for four people.
📍 The location: Ship Canal House, King Street M2 4WU.
👌 Perfect for: Everything from corporate days to group outings with mates.
⭐ Need to know: Booking an hour of darts by itself costs £10 per person.
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