The Hacienda nightclub in Manchester has become the stuff of legends. From the house music scene to some of the biggest bands in the world making their live debut at the club, the Hacienda was always there at the forefront. Until it closed down in 1997.
Interview with Paul Cons from the Hacienda
Ahead of a BBC2 documentary to be aired on 5 November – The Hacienda – the club that shook Britain – I spoke Paul Cons who ran the Flesh gay club at the Hacienda.
What was it like working at the Hacienda?
It was incredible, when the club first opened in the early 80s we used to have gigs on, then when the house music scene came on board in the 90s it all went in a different direction. A lot of people forget that Madonna played her first gig in the UK at the Hacienda.
We had so many bands who went on to huge success such as Culture Club, they maybe did not get a big crowd when they played there, but a few months later they would become massive. When I came on board the way forward was to turn the Hacienda into a nightclub as opposed to a live venue.
Did Take That also make one of their first appearances at the Hacienda?
Yes, they did. And I booked them for the price of £50! The members of the group used to come and visit the club a lot before they became famous. I remember Robbie Williams, Jason Orange and Howard Donald coming quite a lot.
Was the Hacienda ahead of its time?
I think it was. When I go out to a club today, I hear new versions of those classic dance tracks. The era from the late 80s to the mid-90s is still very dominant. We had all the big DJs from the house music scene such as Graeme Park, Mike Pickering playing there.
So why did the club close down?
It was a double whammy really. In 1997 during the same weekend, the business that ran the Hacienda went bust and the police also objected to the club’s licence. We had to spend so much money on security because of the gang problem that was around at that time in Manchester.
The venue became a victim of its own success because it attracted a lot of undesirables. The security had to search everyone on the door and it began to put everyone off from coming which savaged the vibe and atmosphere.
Has there been anything like the Hacienda in Manchester since?
Not really, people these days tend to go to one-off events. When the Hacienda was at its peak the club used to be open until only 2am because of the licensing laws, which helped to create the vibe that the club had. There weren’t as many places to go to back then because of these laws.
What do you think the television programme will achieve?
I think it will educate a new generation as to what the Hacienda actually was and all the different elements it has such as Flesh, the gay night which I ran, as well as the bands that played there along with all the big DJs of the time. For those who actually went to the club, the programme will be very nostalgic.
The club had many diverse elements and was ahead of its time where many different ‘tribes’ could come together.
The Hacienda: The Club That Shook Britain, BBC2 Saturday 5 November 10.15pm.
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