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The Hacienda, RIP
Factory boss Anthony Wilson, Rob Gretton and New Order in the early 1980's decided that there was no club in Manchester that catered for their tastes. So the Hacienda was dreamed up. It opened on Friday May 21st 1982.
The Hacienda was designed to be a slap in the face for established night clubs. The stark industrial design from Ben Kelly was utterly unlike anything club goers had seen before. The first experience was unforgettable.

You entered through large metal doors into a vast interior space supported on steel girders of black with yellow safety stripes. It was functional, hard, almost overwhelming, like a set from the yet to be released movie ALIEN. The music was rolling out and here we were , a thousand or more poor clubbers trapped in the hold of the mothership of an Intergalactic fleet. To continue the theme of difference and subversion, below the dancefloors lurked the Traitors bar celebrating Kim Philby and Guy Burgess, the homosexual Brits who betrayed their country to spy for the Soviet Union.

The name itself was wierd, coming from an a fifties book nobody ever read called The Situationalist International Handbook, the "hacienda" being an idealised co-operative community. Even the flyers and the posters set new standards in design for other clubs( by the way some of the early promotional material is now very collectible).

The Hacienda

The Hacienda

The sheer originality of the concept and its design meant that it took almost ten years for other clubs to follow but now the basic ingredients of the Hacienda's steel, iron, glass and wood interior can be seen all around Europe - and everybody now takes great care over their flyers.
The Hacienda Throughout its existence, the club put on live concerts featuring a who's who of leftfield stars including The Smiths, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Echo and the Bunnymen, an unknown Madonna (1984), the Happy Mondays, James, Oasis, Blur and many many others .But its prime, its heyday, came in the mid and late 1980's when it popularised the new dance craze, "House", and, partially fuelled by ecstasy, became the most famous club on the planet. DJ's such as Mike Pickering (later of M-People), Graeme Park and Dave Haslam played to a packed house and had great fun experimenting; for instance, some memorable evenings included a swimming pool in the main room.
The rhythms in the club appealed to the city's indie bands and resulted in the phenomena of "Madchester", the rolling guitars flying out over beats you could dance to. Manchester even developed its own, Hacienda inspired, look of flares and floppy hats. It was the summer of love all over again. You had to be there. The staid American news magazine Newsweek picked up on the fantastic buzz in the city and put the club on its cover. The secret was simple: the Hacienda made people happy and it made them feel part of something special.
The Hacienda
But in 1990 the mood started to change, the drug gangs moved in occupying their own areas of the club and intimidating staff and public alike. Then in 1991 a young club goer from Stoke died from ecstasy poisoning. Soon after security staff were threatened with a machine gun and the police closed the club with the tacit approval of a shocked management. The club opened again in 1992 but the heights were rarely reached again.
The end came shortly after the fifteenth birthday celebration in the summer of 1997. Police looking into the night time economy and its malign and benign effects were sitting in their car near the Hacienda one evening accompanied by local magistrates. As the club was closing a gang of thugs almost beat to death some innocent individual who they thought had insulted them inside the Hacienda.The club became convinced it would have its license revoked and did not have the finances to support a lengthy closure. Thus the Hacienda died its final death. End
It was probably financial reasons - not the dark reputation of the club for attracting violent gangs - that lay behind the permanent closure. Despite the undoubted success of its later years, the club appears to have been run in a naive business manner. Spectacular tricks and appearance fees swallowed any potential investment money. It is said that US DJ Knucklesplayed the Hacienda on New Year's Eve 1996 and was paid 15000 plus flight, plus accommodation, plus hotel, plus limo. Even with an entrance price of 46 per head this kind of excess was unsustainable. The debts mounted.
Now, the company that bought the building wants to convert it into offices or apartments. This would mean the end of the glorious Ben Kelly interior. Manchester Civic Society has shown a modern sensibility in opposing the conversion because of the club's pop culture importance. But people who were involved with the club, such as Anthony Wilson, deplore making the Hacienda a trendy heritage centre.

They say, the Hacienda might be dead but Manchester music goes on. That's the nature of the thing. Outside the club the graffitti splashed on the walls reads "the Hacienda must be built" or just "rewind". But the enigimatic nameplate - FAC51 THE HACIENDA - next to which thousands queued to gain access to the club, has been chiselled away and a plain replacement brick slipped into its place...

The Hacienda

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