The Haçienda in its early years during the early/mid eighties was a different vibe to the later years of acid house and rave. Not many images of Manchester clubland exist from this period, it was a changing time for the city and a crossover of scenes and fashions that would set the catalyst for future generations.
Photographer Andy ‘Beezer’ Beese was up from his home city of Bristol during 1986 and captured the club during this period. The Haç was open every night and would attract a mixed bag of punters from Punks and Perry Boys to Goths and students. Unusually for a club at the time there was no dress code – It was somewhere for the misfits; a cold and cavernous space that would be often feel empty. In its early years the former yacht showroom turned New York style warehouse club baffled a lot of Mancunians and lost a lot of money.
DJ Hewan Clarke was the clubs first resident DJ, brought in by Tony Wilson who had heard him play at Rafters. Hewan’s playlist was a mix of soul and funk and predominately black records – imports from Manchester’s Spin Inn. Often playing to a tough crowd he would end up playing the likes of Orange Juice and Kraftwerk before gradually introducing his own tastes.
Mark Jordan (Hac regular) “I remember most of us took refuge downstairs in the Gay Traitor bar as the main dance floor was really cold with a high ceiling. Plus there’d only be about 30 of us all wearing heavy overcoats trying to dance. The DJ box was still on the stage and you could get your hair cut downstairs in Swing (The Haçienda’s onsite Salon ran by Andrew Berry).
The band nights were successful and featured early performances by The Smiths and Cocteau Twins, Madonna also famously made her UK live debut here, performing ‘Holiday’ for an episode of The Tube in 1984.
Friday nights started to gain traction with the popular Nude night launched by Mike Pickering, with DJ Martin Prendergast (Little Martin). The night was pretty much packed from the off, playing early house tracks from Chicago and Detroit, prior to it blowing up across the country in the late eighties with the arrival of ecstasy and the acid house explosion.
From Bernard Manning to Acid House, the formative years of the Haçienda were far from ordinary. The following statement from Tony Wilson appeared in a 1982 issue of The Face magazine as part of a review of the opening night:
“For any real form of substantive youth culture to thrive in a city, there has to be a place to go, somewhere to meet. That place in turn becomes representative of the city culture and gains respect and reputation for that city.
“Manchester was way ahead of everyone else during the first days of punk. Why? We had a marvellous meeting place called the Electric Circus. Since the Circus closed its doors there’s been Rafters and after that The Factory to keep Manchester going. But for the last two years there’s been absolutely nothing of any interest here… The Hacienda HAD to be built.” – Tony Wilson
All photos © Beezer Photos / British Culture Archive, all rights reserved.