Erecting a Manhattan-style nightclub in Manchester was a daft idea; but it worked.
In 1980, New Order were undertaking their first US tour. During their stay in New York the band hung out at all the main clubs, such as Danceteria, Hurrah’s and The Peppermint Lounge.
It was the band’s late manager, Rob Gretton, who came up with the idea to re-create one of these New York clubs back home.
A local Manchester promoter (Howard Jones) was appointed and sent out to look for a venue. After inspecting various warehouses, Jones and co finally found the International Yacht Showroom at 11-13 Whitworth Street. The club opened on 21 May 1982.
The audience consisted mainly of hip designers, cool hairdressers and disco kids, and many of them came from as far afield as Sheffield and Leeds. Many people complained on the first night about getting wet paint on their shoes as the floors of the club had only been painted earlier that day.
Factory Records founder, Tony Wilson, hired comedian Bernard Manning to perform at the opening night, because he knew it would upset people and would diffuse the incredible hipness of it all.
Manning was only onstage for 45 seconds as the crowd began booing and going crazy. The comedian told the audience to fuck off and later refused to take payment from the club because he hadn’t done anything to earn it.
In the early days of the club, bands were booked by Mike Pickering who had an incredible talent (or great luck). Pickering would book bands such as Culture Club or The Thompson Twins for £100, and three weeks later they would be in the Top 10.
As the Haçienda approached its first birthday, the accountants advised Tony Wilson that the club had lost around £300,000 so far. On top of the actual cost of fitting out the club, the total debt now stood at around £1,000,000.
Some important landmarks from the club’s history:
|26 January 1983||New Order debut Blue Monday at The Haçienda|
|4 February 1983||The Smiths play their first gig at the club|
|21 May 1983||The Haçienda reaches its first birthday|
|24 November 1983||The Smiths play the club on the same day as their first Top of the Pops appearance|
|27 January 1984||Madonna appears on a special edition of The Tube, broadcast from The Haçienda|
|2 November 1984||The first Nude Night (Stella @ £1 a pint)|
|28 August 1986||First ‘Temperance Club’ – A student special on Thursday nights (and the first financial success for the club)|