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Enough already

Danny McFadden and the ‘Hac-beens’ of Madchester

Published on March 27th 2008.

Enough already

Maybe it’s me that’s old fashioned, but I always thought nightclubs were fast-moving, youthful places sound-tracked by new music that parents find impossible to understand. But like school disco for the acid house generation, a myriad of nostalgia nights celebrating Manchester club-lore have come to compete with our firmly 21st century clubs.

It’s already prompted the Star & Garter’s Keys Money Lipstick session to boast ‘no throwbacks’ to distinguish it from the Madchester-themed indie dance-floors elsewhere. But it’s the Haçienda’s legacy that casts the largest shadow.

Already prompting, local writer, Gary Ryan to coin the witty description ‘a Haç-Been’, for those people stuck like some scratched copy of ‘Voodoo Ray’. Recently punters have been able to take their pick from a number of rival revival parties all claiming to bring the fabled Whitworth Street club back to life. Albeit without the guns.

Oliver Wilson – son of the late Anthony H Wilson – did one such event. At the time, he noted how his was ‘official’ and actually had a Factory catalogue number to prove its authenticity. Last December, both Sankeys and Tangled hosted Haçienda parties while the Warehouse Project got in on the act via some of its popular presentations.

“It took me a while to accept the idea of Haçienda classics nights,” admits Dave Haslam – one DJ who has been involved a handful. “Mainly because there were a few in the past that I thought were a bit shoddy. Secondly I didn't even know what a ‘Haçienda classic’ was. In fact, I still don't know; the definition seems to have narrowed to things that are housey, fairly bleepy with vocals, from 1989.

“But when Urbis asked me to do a mix for a listening post at the recent Haçienda exhibition, one of the first songs I thought of was ‘Just Like Honey’ by the Jesus & Mary Chain.”

Regardless of what, say, Graeme Park, Mike Pickering, Jon Da Silva, Laurent Garnier and Dave Haslam could select as evocative of their time playing at the venue, you could argue that it’s simply impossible to recapture the spirit of those times. Surely the Haçienda’s success was down to a new drug called E combined with this embryonic, almost alien form of repetitive dance music?

Then so undeniably revolutionary, we now find ourselves in 2008 where twenty years of house music has transpired and the descendents of those pivotal records have become as much a part of pop music. The drugs have apparently become weaker and more commonplace too. At least that’s what my mum says.

So staging a Haçienda revival now is surely like re-enacting the poll tax riots at a school sports day. It’s potentially that out of context.

“There is so much interest in the Haçienda among the younger generation,” Haslam argues, “so what would be the point of me being churlish and refusing to get involved? The demand is as much to do with younger people being curious about the Haçienda or beginning to look around for inspiration, as it is with ex-clubbers.”

He will also cite the relationships that crowds built with the original clubs that prompt him (and many others) to want to revisit them. Haslam admits – ahead of a reunion for, Yellow, his later residency at the Boardwalk on 26 April – that he’s actually found such nights emotional. Yet, he says, he’s lucky to have other projects that ensure he’s not looking back all the time. If he was, his life – he insists – would be “pretty stagnant”.

Still, how much more sentimentality for the city’s clubbing past will we need until it is Manchester’s nocturnal scene that is stagnant?

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20 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousMarch 27th 2008.


AnonymousMarch 27th 2008.

What’s really the issue here? Just let people be, the more diversity we have in clubbing and dance music the better I say? There’s too many generic nights all playing funky cheese, so if people want a Hacienda reunion night, then great. As long as Manchester’s clubs aren’t dominated by Hacienda reunion parties then if people still want to live in the past (which I don’t necessarily think is always a bad thing).I missed out on the Hac days, but was a regular at clubbing’s next big thing, Gatecrasher (in its heyday) – so I know how much it means to people to be part of that community spirit that can’t quite be restored, but to think that clubbing is so close minded that clubbers are forced to hear new music only and don’t have the chance to recapture that spirit (no matter how accurate or authentic) is quite a sad thought.At the end of the good music is good music and whilst some of it may not stand the test of time, a lot of it still sounds fresh today and everyone has tunes that are special to them, and playing these classics can make a good night out turn into something special.Personally I think the more choice we have the better, as Manchester desperately needs to improve its clubbing scene as we can’t be beaten on the bar scene but our clubbing scene is all much of a muchness these days.I say let people get on with it – everyone’s too obsessed with bands these days that dance music is being overlooked, and I for one welcome a thriving club scene in Manchester, and if that includes Hacienda reunions (or any other clubbing reunion nights) then great.

eddy rheadMarch 27th 2008.

"I didn't even know what a ‘Haçienda classic’ was. In fact, I still don't know"You said Dave - you said it!

CarolynMarch 27th 2008.

I went to the Hacienda party under Piccadilly last weekend and it was DIRE! Poor music, poor atmosphere, loads of scrubbers using the corners as toilets......went home at 1am. Waste of time and money.

ching chingMarch 27th 2008.

haslam has a book solely about the well-worn madchester years so of course it's in his best interests to prop up anything that promotes the era in which in had any influence at all. to 99% of the clubbers in manchester in 2008 - disregarding the braindead darrens who want to hear inspiral carpets and northside - haslam is merely a relic from the past. which is all well and good, rick witter is making a good few quid doing the very same. difference is rick witter isn't claiming to be at the forefront of music. haslam can't have it both ways - he can't claim to be living on the cutting edge when every couple of months he goes out there and unleashes a flurry of nostalgic sewage over the city in exchange for a hefty pay packet. all these revivals do is damage manchester's reputation each time - if clunt boon and haslam had their way, this city would be more screwed than liverpool - a madchester theme park with an hourly 'maracathon' from bez.

Simon TurnerMarch 27th 2008.

Ching Ching??? Haslam's book about Manchester isn't part of thisnostalgia. He doesn't even get to Madchester until over halfway and there's a final chapter all about now and the future. Have you read it? You can criticise him forthings but that book is ace.

The Fifth ManMarch 27th 2008.

The only Hacienda reunion ever worth going to was the night they organised for the filming of "24 Hour Party People" back in 2001, and even that's been knocked down now."You will never see The Hacienda, it doesn't exist."

MalcolmMarch 27th 2008.

Manchester and its music have moved light years on since the Hac days. All you have to do is go to the Futuresonic Festival in the city centre 1 - 5 May to see where clubbing, music and partying is at in 2008. 10,000 people are coming to this city then to enjoy a real renaissance in its club and music scene. No one there is trying to recapture the atmoshpere of the Hacienda as it never truly went away.

Old enough to know better?March 27th 2008.

Let's get it straight... official Hacienda revival nights are about one thing only... those that ended up out of pocket first time round getting some cash back. Mr Hook, that famous Hacienda DJ(!) seems to play at them all. Paul Taylor has been making a fortune out of his Retro nights for over a decade so there has always been a demand for nostalgia. The popularity of these nights is down to one thing - people want their club nights to be fun. For most people that means hearing their favourite music played loud, not being taken on a educational musical journey for hours. When was the last time you left a club and discussed how the rare edit of the obsure mix of the obscure artists album track was the highlight of the night? I totally agree that there has to be a place for new music and there are many... Manchester has a vibrant small club scene - nights like Prostitutes and Policeman and Buff Bang Pow are all about new music but by definition they start small and grow. The more accesible parts of their playlists become the mainstream and for the people that go to those clubs now there will come a time when the new stuff leaves them cold and they want to hear their favourites... How long before Goodgreef/Warehouse Project retro nights one wonders? Knowing the business nouce of those promoters the flyers are probably already printed.

DMcFMarch 27th 2008.

Sorry, I forgot to say how dreary Liverpool's love affair with The Beatles is too.

bossomMarch 27th 2008.

I went to a hacienda night recently, and saw 18 year old's wearing t shirts that said 'back in the day' on. whats that all about??

Mr. MashupMarch 27th 2008.

Rubbish article that and we've heard it all before. You may as well say that every club nights success since is reliant on drugs. I mean, fancy liking repetitive beats and dancing with friends until the small hours. MADNESS!There are plenty of new nights starting up all the time but they're not just going to fall into your lap, you need to keep an eye out or even better, wait for it to be successful and shut down and then, having never gone there, slag it off.

Sanke PlisskinMarch 27th 2008.

what a waste of time this rant was.....damaging manchesters club scene....it has never been better and that is a fact people, I have seen as many under 25's at the warehouse project and other nostalgia nights around Manchester as I have over 30/40s and as for competing with our 21st century clubs...what rubbish is that...some clubs will have a hacienda revisit night on a friday and then tom novy on the next, so I dont understand why you people are firstly attacking such night and secondly commenting on why Haslam would do certain gigs, these things are put togather by many people and normally a dj would be given a certain slot so no they wouldnt just do it for the pay packet, look at Club V for example they have like 9 different dj's in a night and some of them only earn 60/70 quid...It seems to me that this increase in Nostalgia night its mainly dowwn to the fact that Music has shifted from the mass of RnB nights being held, to electro/dance thus enabling names like hacienda etc to spark a revival, the difference being is that you dont get 50 hoodies let into somewhere to sit smoking weed and intimidating everyone else in there, Paparazzi goers will know exactly what Im on about, in all fairness if anything nights such as those being complained about have made manchester's club scenes one of the best in the UK if not Europe, I think you northen quarter dwellers who like your seedy dim lighted bars full of people who go out with their parents are the real problem.

jimjamMarch 27th 2008.

i went to a 'hacienda classica' night at cream one bank holiday. good shout but they should be once in a blue-moon things. Hooky sweating over the old 1210s.To fuel your article further I see theres a hacienda night at the winter music conference (http://www.fac51wmc.com/) and theres 20 years of acid house being celebrated at gatecrasher summer sound system, it doesnt look like there is any let up in the nostalgia any time soon then.Putting a night on under the name doesnt make it a night either. Its missing so many of the key elements including, and most importantly for me, the design!! The last sankeys/hac NYE effort was about the only flyer that would have been worthy of a place in the factory catalogue. The rot is worsened for the memory of he place with every sucker copy and pasting old parts of old designs into crap new flyers for poor nostalgia nights.On the flip side, look at the success the warehouse project has been, that's the way to push things forward. the weeks nights in the old hac HQ on charles/princess street have seen some of the most amazing current talent the country has to offer, all delivered to your doorstep 3 nights a week. Things are looking forwards, perhaps people just not seeing them, which in some respects is quite fitting.

Jack FoleyMarch 27th 2008.

Why are people so frequently criticising the celebration of something they never had the chance to experience? The people that are doing so, no doubt in their early twenties, would think twice had they actually been to the Hacienda.They may as well tell Liverpool to leave behind the legacy of The Beatles. Where the past is concerned, it's good to look back, just don't stare.

GrandwazooMarch 27th 2008.

I used to got to the Hac 1981-1986 - it was cold & empty lots of the time - I loved it - played cool indie music and showed clips of cult movies on the big screen. Then they started playing this rubbish house music and the rest is history it went downhill after that - lol

JinkiesMarch 27th 2008.

I'm with soul seeker on this, club nights in Manchester seem very poor of late. The last bastion of good times was Tangled, which is now sadly once a month only. Sankeys is awful since all the big acts went to the warehouse project, and in general there's far too much commercial house and utterly dire minimal techno everywhere else. I love the classic nights, the music's great and it lets me feel 19 again rather than 30. Oddly enough, these kind of nights tend to be rather full - so the demands there

soul seekerMarch 27th 2008.

No wonder all the kids are harping back to the past. they're yearning for some excitement in this city which has seemingly lost its soul. we need some good new independent venues/nights playing quality music to create a scene and sense of excitement in the here and now rather than looking backwards to a time when the kids had passion there was more to do on a saturday night than endless bland chain bars playing commercial homogenised crap.

Drew PeacockMarch 27th 2008.

Have to agree..there are too many people trying to bring back the past...In fact, the only reason the Hac was successful because there was nowt else like it at the time...In fact, the main reason me and my mates started going there was because you didn't have to wear pants and a shirt (Although they did introduce that at a later date without much success!!!).Before the rave scene, the place was like a little "South"..no matter what anyone says, it wasn't the music or the ambience of the place or the DJ's that got it noticed, but the E's..pure and simple. Don't get me wrong, it was good, but until then it wasn't great.We have very selective memories..I had some rubbish times there, but the good ones are the ones that stay in the memory. That's where they should stay, not reurrected in some psuedo acid house club with a few yellow and black chevrons dotted about.

AnonymousMarch 27th 2008.

totally agree with you danny. those old druggies need to move on.http://www.slipstreamstores.co.uk/hacienda/

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