‘It was a Mecca for hedonism’: Haçienda legends share memories of the iconic club

As The Haçienda turns 40, we asked Peter Hook, DJ Paulette and Graeme Park what it was really like at 'the most famous club in the world'
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It may have closed in 1997, but The Haçienda and its spirit have become synonymous with Manchester’s musical and cultural history.

At the forefront of music and youth culture in the 80s and early 90s, the legendary venue unleashed the acid house and rave scene, brought us bands like New Order via Tony Wilson’s Factory Records, and influenced many others, including Oasis.

But it wasn’t just about Manchester. Named “The Most Famous Club In The World” by Newsweek Magazine, The Haçienda’s influence extended across the globe.

Now, as The Haçienda prepares to celebrate its 40th birthday with an epic party on the original site, we spoke to Peter Hook, DJ Paulette and Graeme Park to find out what it was really like to be part of it.

Photo: Tom Cockram

“The Haçienda was so popular everywhere because there was nothing else like it,” says Haçienda resident and house pioneer Graeme.

“It was kind of like the blueprint for everything else that followed.

“The guys that set up Cream used to come to The Haçienda and said, ‘we want to do this in Liverpool’. Similarly, the guys who set up Ministry of Sound came along, also Renaissance.

“The whole of the London record industry used to come up to Manchester on a Friday night because they wanted to hear the tracks that Mike [Pickering] and I played and sign them for their labels. People travelled from all over.

“It was like a Mecca for hedonism, really.

Photography by Jack Kirwin

“You didn’t have to dress up, there were no rules on the door, and Mike and I played records you just couldn’t hear anywhere else at the time.

“People flocked to the Hacienda to escape, and they lost their minds.”

DJ Paulette says she was desperate to be a part of the club.

“My first encounter with The Haçienda? It’s funny, it was before I was working for Piccadilly Radio. I really wanted to come to a night here, so I lied and said I was a journalist writing a feature on it,” she laughs.

“I got in on a complete blag.

“Then I was there all the time. I managed to get a lifetime membership. I used to drag everyone there.”

Before The Haçienda, people went to clubs depending on what music they were into, and dressed to fit, says Graeme.

“At The Haçienda, all those rules went out of the window.

“You had barristers dancing next to cleaners, next to nurses, next to football hooligans, next to accountants… all together. Nobody cared, everyone just got on as one happy family.”

The Haçienda is so important, culturally speaking, because it changed the landscape of clubbing in the UK and beyond, believes Graeme.

“It was the first of its kind. And it’s had such an effect on people. People met their life partners at The Haçienda. Or maybe they met someone else and got a new partner.

“I’ve had people tell me their children were actually conceived at The Haçienda, or after a night there.”

DJing at Flesh every month was memorable in its own right, says DJ Paulette.

“You brought your A-game. The Haçienda was special anyway, but Flesh was multiplied, it was so colourful, it was about being out and safe and happy.

“The building was iconic. The DJs became superstar DJs, and legends themselves. It keeps evolving, it never ended.

“It was a cultural and creative hub and melting pot.

“It’s hard to quantify how many people The Haçienda has touched. It’s about so much more than just the club.”

Peter Hook agrees that it is “amazing to be here to celebrate the 40th birthday and to trumpet the legacy and the changes” that The Haçienda and Factory Records made to music, to culture and to fashion. 

“I don’t think we’ll see the like of it again. It was a revolution,” says Peter. 

“The Haçienda managed post-punk, Acid House, and Madchester – and they went right round the world.

“To be in one place at the right time was pretty good, but to be in as many as I was – Factory Records, Joy Division, New Order and The Haçienda – was f***ing amazing. 

Photo: Andreas Andrews

“The legacy for me is about inclusivity. About being open to doing anything, with anybody – and reaping the benefits of being nice.

“These moments have been so special in my life, and we’re so lucky to now have another one.

“Another rave, in a car park, in Manchester – and streaming globally, too.”

Adds Graeme: “Ten years ago, if you didn’t manage to get a ticket to the 30th birthday, you didn’t get in.

“But now, you can log on, pour yourself a drink, plug your device into some massive speakers, get your friends over, and party like it’s 1988.”

The Hacienda 40th Birthday Party Pt 1 will take place on Saturday 21st May 2022, 6pm to 2am at The Hacienda Apartments, 11 – 15 Whitworth Street West, M1 5DD. Tickets on pre-sale 10am Thurs 12th May 2022 and on general sale 10am Fri 13th May 2022 at fac51-thehacienda.com.

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