Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The Haçienda

Fac 51 Haçienda, also simply known as The Haçienda, was a nightclub and music venue located in Manchester. Its name comes from a slogan of a radical group: « The Haçienda must be built » which was a plea for a new urbanism. In Spanish, the word hacienda refers to a beautiful house or an estate. However, the cedilla was added in English so that the “çi” resembles the “51” from FAC51, which was the official number given by the Factory Records.

On May, 21 1982, the Haçienda, which was designed by Ben Kelly, opened its doors. It was mainly directed and financed by New Order from Factory Records. In 1986, during the “Madchester” years and the birth of the rave movement, it became the first nightclub to play (acid-)house music. DJ Mike Pickering, who regularly performed there, helped the Haçienda to have more success so that it could pack up to 2,500 people on a good night. However, the nightclub had constant financial problems. At the beginning, they did not make profit at all, and when they did, the money ended up being spent for drugs. As a result of these drug problems, a teenager died of an ecstasy overdose in 1989 in the club. From then on, the Haçienda was in trouble with the authorities leading to its closure in 1991. Despite its reopening the same year with a better security system, shootings in and outside the club as well as assaults regularly broke out. As the violence increased, the Haçienda had to close for good in July 1997. In November 2000, a charity auction was held allowing people to buy bricks from the building as well as all sort of memorabilia. In 2002, the nightclub was demolished and flats were built instead.

Many famous artists are well-known for having performed at the Haçienda. The club featured bands like Joy Division, New Order, The Smiths and some bands from the Madchester years such as The Stone Roses and Happy Mondays. Moreover, some DJ’s are still known for their nights at the club, like Mike Pickering, Dave Haslam or Laurent Garnier. Last but not least, Madonna’s first visit in the UK was in the notorious nightspot in 1983.

The Haçienda achieved an iconic status as it was “the place to be” in the 80’s. Furthermore, Newsweek designated it as the “most famous nightclub in the world”. More recently, the British movie “24 Hour Party People” (2002) showed the Haçienda as part of the Manchester life in the 80’s. In 2007 and 2008, there was an exhibition where the visitors could (re)discover the nightclub and see the impact of the Haçienda on the economic and urban development of Manchester. Finally, Peter Hook (member of New Order) published the book “How Not To Run A Club” which is about his experience as one of the owners of the famous nightclub. To conclude, the Haçienda will always stand for a place of huge importance to the global music scene.

Sylvie and Caroline

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