1990 - 'Gunchester'
Police at The Hacienda's door - Peter J Walsh

Few nightclubs have sent more musical waves of influence around the world.

Yet for the first time New Order’s Peter Hook, one of the men responsible for the bliss and the blow outs speaks candidly about the misadventure, mismanagement and missing money from Manchester’s most enduring legend.

All week we will be running extracts from his new book “How Not to Run A Club”, an auto biographical account of the mayhem, excess and music that became arguably the word’s most famous nightclub.

Thursday brings our penultimate extract from Peter Hook. Two years after acid house hit like a tsunami and the thrill of the pills has been replaced by the spectre of violence.
‘Gunchester’ was just around the corner and Hooky was placed exactly at its year zero as the reigns of the club were torn from Wilson, Gretton and New Order by the gangs.


This was the era of the DJ.

I didn’t know many of the Haçienda’s DJs very well, but took a dislike to some of them because of what I saw as their prima donna demands: £1000 and more per night (we still held the record for the highest payment to a DJ for a single night’s work: Todd Terry took home £12,500), plus hotel rooms, transport, a backstage rider (i.e., booze and food) and ‘sweeties’.
It seemed excessive to me, but Saturday nights stood out as our big earners. On some nights we’d put three of them on. It’s no wonder that we couldn’t make a profit.

According to Wilson in his book 24 Hour Party People, even in 1990 – at the height of Madchester fever – the club still wasn’t making money. ‘There were huge crowds and a great atmosphere,’ he wrote, ‘but it was all fuelled by Ecstasy, not alcohol, and they didn’t sell E at the bar.’

Wilson, the co-owners and other club promoters in the city were at the sharp end of an inevitable side-effect of rave culture. Where there were drugs there was money. And that meant gangsters. And guns.

The trouble had begun to snowball in September 1989, when the police had closed the Gallery, a favourite haunt for Cheetham Hill gangsters. The following weekend the gangsters needed somewhere to go and arrived at the Haçienda.
It all changed forever that night. Three guys came to the door and said to the bouncers, ‘We’re coming in.’

‘Yeah! You and whose army?’

‘Us and these,’ and they opened up their coats and flashed their guns.

‘Well, of course you’re coming in.’ And our doormen stepped aside.

What would you do against three guns?

These guys went inside the club and just sat in a booth, quite normal, drinking and chatting; we were watching them on the closed circuit TV.

The bouncers told Paul Mason what had happened. He phoned the police and the CID came down. They looked at these kids on the CCTV and told Paul, ‘If they don’t cause any trouble, leave them.’ And then they left.

That was the moment. That’s when we started having regular trouble with the gangs, because they knew that the police weren’t going to do anything about it. We needed a ballsy, proactive police force and we didn’t have one. We’d repeatedly ask for police on the door and they’d just laugh at us for thinking they’d even want to confront the gangs on our behalf.

Tony knew how to get publicity and during this period that really helped. He highlighted our problems with the gangs in the press. The police really, really hated that he brought their shortcomings out for all to see. They were anti-Haçienda. They just wanted the club to disappear, which is ironic: I’d have thought that knowing where every lunatic and Salford gangster was located on a nightly basis would have been handy.

The attitude of the doormen had to change. They had to become much, much harder in order to protect themselves. Everything had to change. Eventually the whole axis of power in the club would shift, so that it was no longer the management running it – it was the doormen.


Read the week's previous extracts - 1981, 1983, 1988

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