1983 - Things hot up

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.

In this second instalment we fly back to 1983 when the club was open yet struggled with its ambitions, its music policy and masses of thieving staff. Stand and deliver.


At that time, the only thing keeping the Haçienda going was the success of Joy Division and New Order. The club was losing an average of £10,000 a month, much of that in wages. There was this guiding principle that if we paid our staff well they would be loyal and work hard. The whole thing functioned on misplaced trust, and we got shafted.

It even got to the stage where I was sick of asking, ‘Where’s everything going?’; ‘Where have all the lights gone?’ The trusses, the dimmer racks, the par cans, the slide projectors – some or all had disappeared and we were left with a right cheap, tatty-looking set-up.

At least we were using the club to promote Factory’s bands, right?

Wrong. The Haçienda was rarely used as a platform for Factory bands. The groups’ managers would ask Tony for a night at the Haçienda, but it seemed like neither he nor Rob were ever that interested.

Not only was the club failing to deliver financially, but also that it wasn’t satisfying the aim of being more about the music than the fashion, of being somewhere for Factory and their friends to hang out, wearing what they wanted. Instead, it was a bit ‘trendy’, in inverted commas. Plus the Friday night still hadn’t sufficiently made its mark.

All that was about to change thanks to Pickering. That year he’d visited New York with his band, Quando Quango. Enjoying the New York nightlife, Pickering also visited Danceteria, Fun House and the Loft. Like New Order, he experienced a musical epiphany. At the Danceteria Pickering saw Kamins (Boyfriend of Madonna and DJ) mix electro such as Man Parrish with indie records. Back home this just wasn’t done. Meanwhile, at the Paradise Garage, a place Pickering later described as ‘heaven’, Rob Gretton told him, ‘This is it. This is what we’ve got to do. This is what our club should be like.’

Here was a club where the emphasis was very much on music and people – alcohol wasn’t even served – and in contrast to DJs back home, there was no use of the microphone. In fact, the DJs were mixing. This was just the vibe Pickering wanted. To help create it he wanted to attract the black audience who were attending Legends back home. The white trendies in long dark overcoats would just have to get used to it, he reasoned. To achieve his aim, he first called on DJ Greg Wilson, who was then a mainstay at Legends. There Wilson was famous for having introduced Manchester to electro.

A New York-based movement spearheaded by Afrika Bambaataa, electro was to provide the building blocks of techno and house on which the Haçienda’s name would be made. It was inspired by the emerging hip-hop movement, by the sleek, robotic rhythms of Giorgio Moroder and Kraftwerk, and by the distinctive noises produced by the Roland TR-808 drum machine. A cold, yet undeniably funky sound, its Mancunian appeal was obvious.


Read further extracts from the book, covering 1981, 1988, 1990

Follow Clash: