History of The Haçienda by former resident DJ
exclusively for Pride Of Manchester in June 2003
Hacienda closed in June 1997 after which it stayed
empty for eighteen months before it was demolished.
Bits of the demolished club were then auctioned off.
Bricks were £5 each; the sale raised thousands
of pounds for charity. Now on the site on Whitworth
Street there’s a block of flats mocking us with
its use of the Hacienda name.
before we get too deep into the Hacienda’s history,
perhaps it’s worth remembering that there have
been dozens of other great clubs and venues that have
contributed to the city’s peerless nightlife
scene. Time, though, is merciless. Other great venues
in Manchester’s recent club history have suffered
a similar fate to the Hacienda’s; on the site
of The Gallery on Peter Street there’s
a particularly depressing example of a Bar 38; the
site of The Reno in Moss Side is wasteground;
The Boardwalk is an empty building.
all this, interest in the Hacienda has never been
greater. In the late 1980s, the Hacienda was unique.
Without the club there would have been no Cream
in Liverpool, and perhaps no Ministry of Sound.
Visits to the Hacienda inspired DJs like Sasha,
the Chemical Brothers, Laurent Garnier,
and Justin Robertson.
recent release of the film ‘Twenty Four Hour
Party People’ is keeping interest in the
Hacienda alive, even though it tells an idiosyncratic
version of the history, mostly based around the story
of Tony Wilson (played by Steve Coogan).
You’d have to talk to some of the longest serving
staff members; Leroy Richardson, Andrew Berry, Angela
Matthews or Suzanne Robinson. And the regulars; everyone
has a different version of what went on at the club.
You’d have to collect all those individual memories
to make the complete picture, like getting back those
auctioned bricks from their thousand different homes.
by Factory Records and New Order, the
Hacienda was open for fifteen years. Most nights it
opened, money was lost. Peter Hook once claimed
that New Order would have been better off if
they’d given ten pounds to everyone who ever came
to the Hacienda, sent them home, and not bothered with
the club at all.
Joy Division To New Order
true story of Factory Records
were at least a couple of years when it all came together,
though; the end of the 1980s, the Madchester
years, the birth of the rave era. I DJ-ed at the Hacienda
nearly five hundred times, mostly back in the 1980s,
and we had some amazing nights there, but back then,
although we knew things were good, I don’t think
anyone would have predicted that over a dozen years
later there would be a film about those years; it was
just a matter of getting out there and enjoying the
weekend. Cameras were rare in the club, although there
had been one character, Malcolm, who had a company called
Ikon. He filmed New Order, Mantronix,
Grandmaster Flash, The Smiths and all
the other acts who ever played there but then he disappeared
into the Pennines and no-one has heard from him since.
the absence of any major archive or much TV footage,
the makers of ‘Twenty Four Hour Party People’
built a stunning replica of the building in a warehouse
in Ancoats and opened the doors to a thousand clubbers
one Friday night in March 2001 for one of the most talked-about
nights out in Manchester for years. Mike Pickering,
Graeme Park, Jon Da Silva and I DJed,
and the night exploded. It was a farewell party, a celebration,
a reunion. Within a couple of days the replica version
had been taken down, demolished like the original building,
but the film-makers had got some great footage and we’d
had a ball.
Four Hour Party People’ is concerned with
much more than the Hacienda, though; it follows the
fortunes of Factory label. Spurred on by punk,
Tony Wilson and Alan Erasmus put on
gigs, hosting ‘Factory’ nights at the
Russell Club in Hulme in June 1978, which led
to the formation of Factory Records later in
the same year.
Gretton instigated a joint venture between New
Order and Factory Records, looking for
a site for a club of their own. Others involved in
the record company took some persuading. There’s
an episode in the film when Martin Hannett
- New Order’s producer (and co-director
of Factory) - throws a massive strop; he wanted to
spend any spare cash on recording technology.
in 1981 Gretton and friends took a lease on an old
yacht showroom on Whitworth Street West in a semi-derelict
part of town overlooked by a rusting gas works. Making
full use of the warehouse layout - the industrial
girders, iron pillars, and high ceiling - Ben Kelly
set about designing the Hacienda, a very different
place to most clubs in Britain with their sticky carpets
and potted plants. The ‘Architectural Review’
called Ben Kelly’s Hacienda a “pioneering
from May 21st 1982, the Hacienda was a members-only
club, open sometimes five or six nights a week. Bills
weren’t getting paid and no money being made.
Fortunately for the whole enterprise, New Order
had commercial success with 'Blue Monday';
the single spent 34 weeks in the charts in 1983 and
became the biggest selling 12” record of the
era. The band were persuaded to part with proceeds
from their record sales to support the club’s
all its aesthetic glory, the Hacienda was cursed with
bad acoustics and poor sightlines. The first resident
DJ, Hewan Clarke, was hidden away in a little
boxroom to one side of the stage. He lobbied for the
DJ box to be moved from the bunker and a wooden structure
on the balcony was eventually built, overlooking the
dancefloor. Ben Kelly claimed his design was
being compromised, but it was the perfect move, pre-empting
the shift to club nights and the rise of the superstar
Kelly Designs - Plans and Elevations
The Hacienda & Dry Bar
in those early years the club would often be empty.
I’d sometimes be there, a paying customer, possibly
the only one. I’d sit at one of the balcony
tables watching the videos projected onto a big screen
and listening to the sound Hewan’s electro selections
echo round the hall. Claude Bessy was the video
jock; he’d splice together bondage videos, old
black and white films and weird psychedelia. An amazing
character, although he’s not in '24 Hour Party
one occasion the club hosted an installation by David
Mach; thousands of vinyl copies of New Order’s
‘Confusion’ single were glued together
in huge piles round the dancefloor pillars. This is
not in the film either, although at the time it was
impressive. To me, at least, and probably around two
dozen other people, although they never made a film
about us; the twenty four arty people.
smaller clubs were more fun; The Venue, Berlin,
The Playpen, The Man Alive. The busiest
club night at the Hacienda up to 1985 was their ‘No
Funk’ night on a Tuesday. On Saturday nights
in 1984 the big tune was Lulu’s ‘Shout’
(you can’t believe this can you?).
Mike Pickering instigated ‘Nude’
night on a Friday it all changed. He had the perfect
playlist to lead the club from post-punk to electro
funk. He’d play stuff like Whistle ‘Please
Love Me’, and the SOS Band ‘Just
be Good to Me’. There were no rules. He
was playing house before anyone else.
Mason arrived in January 1986 from Rock City in
Nottingham and, with Paul Cons, instituted
a new regime. These two men were pivotal in the story
(though they were unrepresented in ‘Twenty Four
Hour Party People’); they were responsible for
the day to day running of the club and the promotion
and marketing. In this era, there were chaotic board
meetings when New Order would be cajoled into
pledging more money, and Wilson and Gretton
would air more differences of opinion (the tension,
enmity, between the two men is one of the best things
in the film), but Mason, building on the success of
‘Nude’, accelerated a switch into
Wilson - 24 Hour Party People
the sleeve notes never tell you
there were some memorable gigs at the club - ‘The
Tube’ filmed Madonna there in 1984,
and the likes of the Birthday Party and The
Smiths had played there too - but by 1986 live
music was clearly not making the Hacienda any money.
I’ve always believed that starting some club
nights was a last resort; at that time having DJs
playing was so much cheaper than booking bands.
was invited to launch a Thursday ‘Temperance
Club’ night in May 1986. The first night
five hundred people came in, which was pitiful in
the context of what went on later, but it was enough,
at the time, for me to be given Saturday nights as
well. By the end of 1986 my DJing was deemed a success
and I was given a pay rise; £110, for two nights
work. I wasn’t looking to make money out of
this DJing lark; I might even have done it for nowt,
if they’d asked.
was no plan. No-one got round a table to mastermind
the perfect strategy to ensure we were playing the
right records to win ourselves a place in music history.
We were DJs who understood the people in the queue,
and we played what we liked. On Thursdays I played
hip hop, New Order, The Smiths, The
Stooges, and Public Enemy. Saturdays were
more funky, then housey. Mike Pickering had
already been joined by DJ Graeme Park and ‘Nude’
was already legendary.
the end of 1987 the famous Hacienda queues were there
from Wednesday through to Saturday, each night having
its own identity. At 9pm the queue would be round
the building. Ironically, considering what was to
happen in the club within a year or so, it was a friendly
crowd. There was more violence at Manchester’s
mainstream nights where lager louts would battle it
out with broken bottles at closing time.
conclusive change came in 1988. Ecstasy use changed
clubs forever; a night at the Hacienda went from being
a great night out, to an intense, life changing experience.
The new sounds of house and techno seemed to survive
the club’s poor acoustics; cluttered music sounded
a mess bouncing off the walls of the club, but thudding
beats, piano lines, and minimalist bleeps rocked the
room. The music sounded even better on drugs.
the world of techno & rave culture
glimpsed it since in other clubs, looking out of the
DJ box and seeing steam rising, seeing the bodies
pressed together, moving together on the dancefloor.
The DJs weren’t in control; it was like trying
to tame a thousand maniacs. The nights were unpredictable,
hard to handle. One night a girl came into the DJ
box, took alll her clothes off, lay on the floor and
started pulling at my trousers. I resisted her charms;
no-one ever cleaned the floor, I reasoned, what was
she thinking of?
most intense night was Wednesdays, ‘Hot’,
launched in the second half of 1988, the quintessential
Summer of Love experience piloted by DJs Mike Pickering
and Jon Da Silva. It was like a mini-midweek
Ibiza, with a swimming pool next to the dancefloor,
and airhorns and thunderstorms and pianos filling
the air. DJs weren’t quite anonymous, but they
certainly weren’t the stars. The audience was
just so crazed, devoted; nothing would have been achieved
music in clubs is now pigeon-holed and segregated,
in those first years of acid house, the dancefloor
was open minded. In retrospect DJs have tried to convince
us of their purist underground credentials, that wasn’t
really the case. In the acid house era you would have
heard house, and techno, but also hip hop records
like ‘Know How’ by Young MC, New
Order and Euro disco tracks by Italian production
a couple of years, the Hacienda could boast sell-out
crowds four nights a week, but there was massive energy
throughout Manchester at the time; clubs like the
Thunderdome and Konspiracy were also
attracting big, discerning crowds.
to all this activity were becoming apparent, though.
In July 1989 Claire Leighton took an 'E' given
to her by her boyfriend, collapsed in the club and
died thirty-six hours later. By the middle of 1990
there were problems on the door of all the best clubs
in Manchester; the scene was being wrecked by drug
finished the 'Temperance Club' night in October
1990; in attempts to control the crowd coming in,
the doormen had started requesting student ID, which
is always a bad sign. Unbeknownst to me, Liam and
Noel Gallagher had just started hanging out in
the club. Noel was a roadie with the Inspiral Carpets,
Liam was a devoted fan of the Stone Roses.
It was a wonderful community. The older generation
would hang out too. Mark E Smith of The
Fall would be there, nursing a pint, grumbling
about hairdressers and students in the club. Happy
Mondays and their mates would be underneath the
balcony, surrounded by the thinnest girls in the club.
Hacienda was a great community but escalating drug
use meant the club became a major market for drugs,
and violence ensued as gangs battled for control of
the door (and, thus, the supply). There were less
welcome visitors to the DJ box. At the end of one
night a lad drew a gun on me and demanded my records.
Jon Da Silva has since told me that my choice
of records sucked, but thinking about it, at least
the gunmen was threatening to shoot me because he
liked the records I was playing, rather than shoot
me because he hated them. So I must have been doing
1990, the management fended off attempts by the police
to have the club shut down, but in January 1991 they
closed the club voluntarily. The violence was increasing
and the disastrous publicity was scaring away customers.
Tony Wilson usually stays opimistic, talking
things up, but these were bad times, and when he announced
the closure anxiety was etched on his face.
closure was temporary, and three months later the
club re-opened. In later years, there were some great
nights in the club, but the Hacienda no longer had
the monopoly on good ideas and big crowds. There was
a belated attempt to exploit the brand, and t-shirts
were printed and sold (another job for Fiona Allen;
she ran the shop).
1992 Factory Records went bankrupt, struggling
with unsuccessful new signings, the faltering career
of Happy Mondays and the reluctance of New
Order to make another LP for the label; the financial
problems compounded by the high borrowings incurred
on a new HQ on Charles Street. At the Hacienda there
was recurrent violence and Mike Pickering finally
severed his connections with the club just after the
11th birthday after he’d had a knife pulled
on him, and guest DJ for the occasion, David Morales,
had a glass thrown at him. New clubs arrived in the
city; Paradise Factory, Sankey’s Soap
the mid-1990s, Paul Cons ran the huge monthly
gay ‘Flesh’ nights and Graeme
Park kept the flag flying on Saturdays with his
choice selection of American-style garage (ably assisted
by Tom Wainwright who was another unsung hero),
but most of the city’s successul nights were
elsewhere; ‘Bugged Out’ at Sankey’s
Soap, ‘Life’ at Bowlers,
‘Yellow’ at the Boardwalk,
‘One Tree Island’ at Jabez Clegg,
and ‘Headfunk’ at Time.
In Liverpool, ‘Cream’ learned important
lessons; trying not to make enemies of the police,
getting the merchandising right. The world had certainly
caught up with the Hacienda.
five years at other clubs, I returned on Saturdays
in 1996. Elliot Eastwick had graduated to the
DJ box, and we had six months when it looked as if
the club was riding another wave, with more lives
to change, but then one Monday, after one very busy
Saturday at the end of June 1997 we got a call telling
us they club was closing. In the film there’s
a final night when Wilson appears in the DJ box exhorting
the crowd to loot the offices; this never happened.
When the end came it was an accident. Thanks to the
film, though, we did get one final, great night, in
the fake Hacienda in that warehouse in Ancoats.
point of clubbing had been proved. In a room full
of loud music, a bunch of good people with a lot of
love and a bit of luck can create a great community.
It can be done.
Haslam, June 2003 - www.davehaslam.com