What does a book about a drugged-up, over-designed, loss-making nightclub with a notoriously bad sound system have to do with museums? Nothing – and everything.
For people of my generation – born in the 1980s, but too young to remember them – the Haçienda is a mythical place. It was the centre of the Manchester rave scene in the late 80s and early 90s and transformed Manchester from a grim, post-industrial northern city into a hotbed
of youth culture.
Peter Hook tells the story from the inside. His band New Order were co-owners of the club along with their label, the Tony Wilson-led, Factory Records. The band bankrolled the Haçienda during its early days, when literally no-one went, which continued even when it took off during the second “Summer of Love” in 1988.
Hook tells vivid stories of the characters and the friendships, the occasional triumph and many mishaps and, above all, the sheer passion felt for the place and its mission. The Haçienda was more than a club; it was an experiment in creating a new form of culture – visionary, idealistic, even a bit utopian.
While existing on a very different register to a museum, for me, the Haçienda has been a constant touchstone for the way culture can connect people and place. In this sense, it was the ultimate act of curating culture for the sweaty, throbbing masses.
Owen Hopkins is director of the Farrell Centre at Newcastle University