The Hacienda – Where It All Began…

At one time dubbed the most famous nightclub in the world by Newsweek, the Hacienda in Manchester had a noted impact on the music scene not just in the city but across the country as a whole. Spawning books, a film and inspiring countless bands, the Hacienda played an integral part in the Madchester scene and its legacy is still recognised today.

The club was opened in 1982 as Fac 51 The Hacienda, created by Factory Records boss Tony Wilson and the label’s star act New Order. It first opened as a private member’s club and didn’t make any money, but was luckily kept afloat due to the chart success of Blue Monday.

It played host to a number of iconic gigs in the early 80s. In January 1984, Madonna’s first UK performance took place in the club which was broadcast live in the Channel 4 programme the Tube and bands such as the Smiths, Echo and the Bunnymen, James and the Stone Roses also performed.

Popularity of the club grew and by the late 1980s it was attracting large crowds to its various nights and was one of the first clubs to play house music.

The club was integral in the rise of the Madchester scene with many of the bands being inspired by the Hacienda’s innovative musical choices and the club’s community feeling. Former DJs have reminisced about musicians such as the Happy Mondays, Mark E Smith and Noel and Liam Gallagher hanging out amongst the regular clubbers just enjoying the good tunes and the atmosphere.

However, the club wasn’t without its problems and these, along with financial difficulties, eventually led to its demise. Security and drug use were major issues, with the first UK ecstasy related death happening in the venue and a number of shootings as gangs fought to control the flow of drugs. The DJs weren’t immune to the problems, with one former DJ speaking in later years about the time that he once had a gun pointed at him by a clubber who wanted his records.

Greater Manchester Police requested the closure of the club a few times, and the owners agreed to a voluntary shut down for a few months in 1991 to try and improve security. The club eventually closed down for good in 1997, where it remained derelict for years before being bought by a developer who knocked it down and replaced it with apartments. The apartments were allowed to use the Hacienda’s name by New Order bassist Peter Hook who owns the trademark, a decision which didn’t go down well with the club’s former clientele.

In 2002, the film 24 Hour Party People was released which told the story of the club portraying real events, urban legends, rumours and sometimes just the scriptwriter’s imagination. The filming in 2001 involved the producers building a temporary Hacienda in a local warehouse which was opened as a real nightclub as the filming took place, and allowed the regulars to say one last goodbye to the iconic club.

So what has been the club’s legacy? The Hacienda had a noted impact on the city of Manchester, playing its part in the development of the city’s nightlife and helping the city to grow and gain the reputation it still has today for a vibrant music scene unlike anything found elsewhere in the country. The music of the Madchester scene has also had a direct influence on a number of genres from the Britpop of the 90s to the current indie rock scene, and of course it influenced Saviour’s Hallelujah t shirt!  Not bad for a place owned by someone who later published a book called “How Not to Run a Club”.

And if you didn’t get a chance to visit the club, here’s your chance to see what the Hacienda was like in this video from 1990:

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