The organisers went to huge efforts to conjure up the appearance and atmosphere of the original club, using as raw material, the shell of a multi-storey car park interior. The result was an unforgettable and eerie recreation of what is still Manchesterís most famous discotheque.
Access was via the vehicle entrance opening out onto Whitworth Street West. This also served as an impromptu chatting and smoking area. Clubgoers then proceeded down the ramp, transformed by mood lighting, photos, posters and projections, and pushed through plastic curtains of the type found in warehouses, and entered the main part of this astonishing one-night-only venue.
To the left where cars are normally parked, was the seating area, similar to the original and in the corner, a set of portable toilet cabins, with a long queue in front of them. Turning right and moving further up the car park floor, it was like a scene from Close Encounters, gyrating figures holding their hands up in worship, nowadays clutching smartphones, silhouetted against a blinding, pulsating light coming from the far end.
The light emanates from the desk of the DJ, that extra-terrestrial demigod, a form emerging out of the smoke, clutching his headphones, making fine adjustments to the knobs and sliders, occasionally holding his hands up in the air with pointed fingers, light beams shining over shoulders (and under his armpits, see photo 3005 below), bizarre patterns swivelling and bouncing across the banks of multicolour LED panels. After many years, he has returned to commune with the Hacienda-lings, at their original point of contact. He takes a variety of human forms: The closely-shorn lankiness of Dave Haslam, the hirsute jokeyness of Peter Hook and the comical bespectacledness of Graeme Park, among others.
This truly was the Hacienda recreated. Not quite the same layout and probably with better sound, thanks to improved technology and the low multi-storey car park ceiling.
Scores of Hacienda-goers from its heyday had returned, along with others probably young enough to be Peter Hookís granddaughters. Upstairs in the smoking area at the entrance to the car park, a number of the cityís music personalities were present. I took stereo 3D photos of Peter Hook, Johnny J and John Robb. Terry Christian was there but left early. Others were conspicuous by their absence. And the one missed most of all was Tony Wilson. Iím sure he would have loved this reincarnation of the club he thought had gone for good.
As the night neared its end, the deafening, swirling drum machine sounds and eccentric tinkling noises incessantly repeated themselves to a climax and on the dot of midnight, the circuit breaker was thrown to the 'off' position.
Graeme Park reminded us that more of the same was available every weekend at Sankeys Soap nightclub in the Northern Quarter, but continuing on till much later. Peter Hook thanked all those who had come. The great thing about the Hacienda, he said, was the people, and that was definitely true. And soon the crowds were making their way back out onto Whitworth Street West.
Most will agree it was an unforgettable experience, maybe to become a regular club night - though hopefully not just every 30 years!
And here is my slide show video of the Hacienda exhibition at Urbis in 2007Written by Aidan O'Rourke