Update 27th May: FAC51 The Haçienda have finally commented on this, issuing this statement. The original story is below.
Many things have been said over the years about the Haçienda, the Manchester nightclub which ran from 1982 to 1997. Aside from putting the north of England on the map by being one of the first British venues to play house music, they effectively launched the careers of band New Order.
However, even the club’s most dewy-eyed supporters would be hard pressed to describe the Haçienda of back in the day as organised. And this particular curse from the past arose over the weekend as their 40th birthday party reunion at the Whitworth Street West car park underneath the now Haçienda Apartments descended into farce, just hours before they began.
The original event was due to take place on Saturday 21st May between 6pm and 2am. DJs playing included Tom Wainwright, Graeme Park and Aaron Mellor – the head of Tokyo Industries since its inception in 1997. But on the morning of the event, they posted this…
Yes, you did read this correctly. An eight hour event was being split into two separate events of differing lengths – one between 6pm and 10.30pm, the second from 11am to 2am. And not a few weeks ahead, but with just hours to spare – when some people would already be heading up to Manchester for the evening.
Everyone going was then split into the two groups – a process that attendees who contacted Ears To The House describe as “an embarrassment” and “a farce”. They speak about groups travelling together being divided up – and were particularly displeased about paying £42 per ticket plus their own accommodation costs in order, as one put it, “to see half a show, with no idea of who you’re actually going to get to see play. Clubbers expect higher standards these days than this.”.
Things only descended further into parody when an updated listing bizarrely listed the DJ set times from last to first, whilst no doubt upsetting the aforementioned Aaron Mellor by spelling his name incorrectly. But what ultimately led to the event being chopped up into two uneven slices in the first place?
According to a source closely associated with the Haçienda, it was health and safety concerns. They said “The Greater Manchester fire service told them on Friday that there were would be too many people in the car park if the event was to go ahead. They said if a fire was to happen, they might not be able to evacuate the building as quickly as regulations require.”.
So what happened after this? They explained “There were a lot of discussions. They considered cancelling the whole thing, but concluded the best way forward was to split the night in two. No one was exactly happy, not least the DJs who had to reconfigure their sets at little notice. But it was either that or nothing. Getting this signed off was the reason it took until Saturday morning to announce it.”.
FAC51 The Haçienda have been approached for comment…