One Haçien­da devo­tee and DJ loved the place so much, he bought the flat where the famous Man­ches­ter club’s DJ booth was.

The film Do You Own the Dance­floor?  went on release in June 2015. It’s an affec­tion­ate, some­times hilar­i­ous, and decid­ed­ly good-natured account of the sell-off of fix­tures and fit­tings from The Haçien­da, Man­ches­ter’s famous club. In doing so, it explores the lega­cy of the club.

If The Haçien­da’s time in the sun was some­thing you weren’t part of, the film cer­tain­ly makes you feel you’ve missed out. The Haçien­da had more impact than any oth­er to cre­ate the nascent club scene and put Man­ches­ter on the acid house and rave cul­ture map.

The film was made by Chris Hugh­es and Do You Own the Dance­floor? is his first for­ay into film mak­ing. Chris told me how he feels extreme­ly ner­vous when he sees the audi­ences wait­ing for the film to start but, so far, he’s had very pos­i­tive feed­back. He has fur­ther plans to release a DVD lat­er this year.

After the club’s demise, The Haçien­da was torn down and a block of mod­ern flats built on the site. I inter­viewed a Haçien­da fan, a Man­ches­ter DJ who end­ed up buy­ing one. Christo­pher remem­bers the club from the 90s, and recalls the impor­tant part it played in his for­ma­tive club­bing years. And when he moved into his Haçien­da flat, he made an inter­est­ing discovery.

Which peri­od of time were your Haçien­da days?  “I was a bit young for the club’s glo­ry days when the Ros­es and New Order did impromp­tu sets. I used to go in 1996–97, at the tail end before it got closed down. We used to go on Sat­ur­days when our favourite DJs were play­ing: Sasha and/or Mike Pick­er­ing. It was that real­ly pro­gres­sive house scene, Amer­i­can garage sound, which of course is found­ed on dis­co – Chica­go house was peter­ing out by the time I got to The Haçien­da. It was becom­ing more trancey and pro­gres­sive, like a sound­scape, with big, epic sets – rum­bling buildups, and epic drops. It was big hands in the air rather than just groov­ing along. Take a Haçien­da track like Voodoo Ray, that’s the direc­tion it was going in.

What was the club like? The Haçien­da was like being at an indoor rave. It had that sense of dan­ger, but in a good way. It felt like some­thing could hap­pen at any time. It remind­ed me of a rave because there was a sham­bol­ic ele­ment to it that was ener­gis­ing. Events were always being shut down by the police or gen­er­a­tors would stop work­ing. I think they had to have sound lim­iters at one point because the sound would just cut out. There would be lots of stamp­ing of feet with every­one singing and clap­ping till the music came back on and it would almost take the roof off when that happened.

The Haçienda was like being at an indoor rave. It had that sense of danger, but in a good way.

I remem­ber it was one of the dark­est places I’ve ever been in, it was full of dark cor­ners. And there were so many doormen!

Did you go to oth­er clubs? We used to go to Sankeys Soap which I loved. And, as I said ear­li­er, I used to go to a lot of out­door raves with friends. We would trav­el all over the coun­try to attend raves – we even went down to Devon from Man­ches­ter for one.

Who were your favourite DJs? Sasha was king, and I liked Mike Pick­er­ing too. What I remem­ber pri­mar­i­ly at The Hacien­da was Sasha being amaz­ing. He did a series of albums called North­ern Expo­sure with John Dig­weed, and those two were the kings of clubbing.

What else do you remem­ber? The Gay Trai­tor, named after Antony Blunt was down­stairs, and it made a big impres­sion on me. It was bar cul­ture before its time.  The Gay Trai­tor was seedy but a bit cool, you would go there to chill out. I remem­ber they had orig­i­nal Chica­go house going on there. It was the first time I expe­ri­enced a prop­er chill­out room at a club. Two rooms of con­trast­ing styles to make up the whole.

What was got you into dance music? I was into bands and then the fig­ure who got me into dance music was Paul Oak­en­fold. He was my DJ idol for a long while. Then rave cul­ture came in, he got into trance and Goa trance and hard trance. But it got a bit acid drenched, which was­n’t my thing.

How did you end up liv­ing at The Haçien­da? I want­ed to live in Man­ches­ter city cen­tre – I had recent­ly got mar­ried and I was flat hunt­ing with my wife. I knew The Haçien­da had been rebuilt as apart­ments so we went to have a look. It just all fell at the right time. With­in two days of mov­ing in, I checked a blue­print and realised our apart­ment was where the DJ booth would have been. That blew my mind.

We were on the ground floor. Our apart­ment and the one next door to me would have spanned the DJ booth. I like to think that our half was where Sasha played, and next door was where Pick­er­ing played. From that, and a blue­print I got on Ebay, I looked for oth­er arte­facts. I got a piece of the orig­i­nal dance floor, which even has gum stuck to it, which is just great.

hacienda floor

Tell me about the 30th Anniver­sary of the club… It was in the car park at our old apart­ment in 2012 – we’ve since moved. They got per­mis­sion from the res­i­dents. Peter Hook curat­ed it to look like a muse­um piece, he even gave it Fac­to­ry Records ser­i­al num­bers. The bar was the full length of the car park, there were DJ rooms, and framed pho­tos of the DJs and ‘back in the day’ pho­tos hung around…  and those yel­low and black warn­ing stripes every­where. Some DJs were there, Mike Pick­er­ing, Graeme Park… but not Sasha. That was the last time I went clubbing.


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