Manchester Nightclub, The Haçienda

by | Apr 3, 2018 | Manchester, Music

The Hacienda in Manchester was once described as the coolest club in the world. iNostalgia looks back at the wonder years.

It’s hard to imagine someone less likely to open the trailblazing Hacienda nightclub than stand-up comedian Bernard Manning.

After all, acid house, rave music and stark modernism were hardly Bernard’s cup of tea.

And he was used to far better sound systems than the basic facilities on stage at 11-13 Whitworth Street West.

But on May 21st 1982, it was the larger-than-life comic who launched the Manchester venue that became the world’s ‘coolest club’ in the 1980s and early 1990s.

Manning was so unimpressed he didn’t even hang around to collect his appearance money.

The décor was definitely not to the traditional comic’s taste. Industrial and functional, it was a million miles from Manning’s own Embassy Club in Harpurhey.

Designed by Ben Kelly, the former warehouse on the south side of the Rochdale Canal featured heavy use of black and yellow safety stripes and steel girders.

It was meant to be subversive – a ‘slap in the face for established nightclubs.’

The theme of rebellion continued in the names of the rooms below the dancefloor. There was a cocktail bar called The Gay Traitor after spy Anthony Blunt.

Two other bars, The Kim Philby and Hicks, were named after Blunt’s fellow spies from the Cold War. Upstairs next to the stage was a dance area, bar and balcony with a DJ booth.

The vast, sparse open space is clearly evident in our photo of dancers on the floor in October 1990 and again in the 10th anniversary picture from May 1992.

Dancing at the Hacienda nightclub. 1st October 1990

Dancers in the Hacienda Club in Manchester celebrate its 10th Anniversary
May 1992.

The Hacienda, also called FAC 51 after its listing in the factory catalogue, was the brainchild of Rob Gretton, the manager of Joy Division and New Order.

The name Hacienda was copied from a slogan of the radical group Situationist International – ‘The Hacienda Must Be Built’. The cedilla on the letters ‘ci’ reminded the founders of the number 51.

Finance for the club came mainly from New Order’s record sales and Factory Records, owned by radio and TV presenter Tony Wilson.

The Hacienda gained momentum after its Manning moment in May 1982. By July, German band Liaisons Dangereuses had played there and Manchester group The Smiths made three appearances in 1983.

The Smiths pop singer Morrissey singing on stage 1984

One of the most surprising early acts was international superstar Madonna, who gave her first UK performance at the Hacienda on January 27th 1984.

She sang her hit single Holiday as part of a live TV broadcast by Channel 4 music programme The Tube. Commentators said the crowd were mesmerised.

Madonna, who made her first UK appearance at the Hacienda in January 1984.

The Hacienda became one of the first clubs to play house music in 1986 with DJs Mike Pickering and Little Martin.

Pickering and Jon DaSilva also hosted the acid house ‘Hot’ night in July 1988.

As the Hacienda’s pioneering reputation grew, so did its profits. The club went from making a loss to being full every night of the week.

DJs from the Hacienda appeared on TV and radio in shows like Granada TV’s Juice. Hacienda FM was a weekly show on the Manchester dance station Kiss 102.

Our photo shows DJ Paul Fitzpatrick, known as Nipper, with his decks at the Hacienda in February 1990.

Paul Fitzpatrick, aka Nipper. DJ at Hacienda Nightclub in Mancheter. Pictured here with his Decks 26th February 1990.

Problems set in for the venue during the early 1990s when security was stretched by a series of incidents.

A police clampdown, following a drug-related death, led to the club closing for a short period in 1991.

The Hacienda carried on until the summer of 1997 when debts finally forced it to close. New Order member and co-owner Peter Hook said in 2009 that the club lost up to £18 million in its final years.

The band initially ploughed £100,000 into the venture even though Hook said they were living on £20 a week.

Our photo shows operations manager Paul Mason reliving the horror of burning money after a spark from New Year fireworks set fire to some of the club’s takings in 1995.

Paul Mason, Operations Manager at the Hacienda nightclub relives his burning money horror, after a spark from some New Year fireworks at the club set fire to some of the clubs takings. 6th December 1995.

Peter Hook was in happier mood at a surprise party for Hacienda events manager Paul Cons in July 1992. He’s pictured on the left with Cons, centre, and Jon Savage.

Surprise party at the Hacienda for the clubs events Manager Paul Cons, he is pictured (centre) with Peter Hook, left, and Jon Savage. 6th July 1992.

The Hacienda building was eventually demolished in 2002.

A charity auction in November 2000 sold many of the fixtures and fittings from the club. These included signs, lights and even the DJ booth and box.

The booth was bought by ex-Hacienda DJ Bobby Langley, head of merchandise for Sony Music in London.