The Hacienda: How Not To Run A Club by Peter Hook

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The Hacienda: How Not To Run A Club by Peter Hook

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Category: Entertainment
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: John Van der Kiste
Reviewed by John Van der Kiste
Summary: The story of the Hacienda Club, Manchester, owned and run by Factory Records and the band New Order. For fifteen often chaotic years, between 1982 and 1997, it mirrored and often led new trends in popular music culture.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 288 Date: October 2009
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 978-1847371355

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In the beginning there was Tony Wilson, a Granada TV presenter who came to prominence as compere of the music show So It Goes. Then there was Factory Records, the Manchester-based alternative record label he helped to found, and their main act, the post-punk band Joy Division. After their vocalist Ian Curtis killed himself in 1980 the band recruited another member and continued as New Order. Between them and their manager Rob Gretton, they decided to found and run their own club, the Hacienda. Peter Hook was not only New Order's bassist but also seems to have had the highest profile in hands-on management of the establishment, and despite a generous intake of various substances is well placed to chronicle the sometimes comic, sometimes sad story.

A ludicrous venture bound to end in tears? With hindsight it was, but there were good times as well as bad. Bad times – well, where do we start? Bulk buying cans of beer in the early days, selling them to punters for 50p and then giving them away for free because nobody had the exact change? Being robbed at gunpoint one Monday morning of all the weekend takings, and three weeks later seeing a well-tanned cleaner's holiday snaps – revealing her with her arm around her boyfriend, who was one of the robbers? Good times? The camaraderie, the groundbreaking feeling of being at the forefront of several dance music trends during the era, and survival against the odds for so long.

Some of it, you just couldn't make up. This book will teach you many things - like never open a nightclub with your mates. If you try and assault a club owner, make sure he is not with one of his head doormen at the time. And if it all goes belly-up, don't believe a word a liquidator says.

Those are some of the funnier bits. Less funny of course were the times when drugs and all that goes with it got the better of some of them, not least 16-year-old Clare Leighton, whose death in hospital in 1989 after taking ecstasy and collapsing on the dance floor made headlines at the time. There was the increasing violence from gun-toting gangs, and it's rather horrifying to think how peaceful things were on the whole in the 70s and 80s when compared with the ugly scenes that erupted later on. Above all there was that day when the licensing committee came to look round and see if, despite all the rumours of bad behaviour, the place was fit to have its licence renewed – at the very moment that a drive-by bunch who had been thrown out lobbed a wheel brace at a bouncer and literally smashed his head open.

By that time, the club had reached the end of its fifteen-year road, Factory Records had bitten the dust, and bankruptcy stared them in the face. The doors closed, and the place was sold to a property developer.

As a course in survival against the odds in the showbiz world, or as a lesson in how not to run a business (perhaps in the same way as Fawlty Towers is 'how not to run a hotel'), this book is an entertaining read. Hook's almost boyish enthusiasm carries the narrative through, even if there are pages when the continual list of debacles, mishaps and sheer bungling starts to become a little wearing. Also the yearly lists of which famous acts played at the club and on which date add to its value as a work of reference.

Our thanks to Simon & Schuster for sending us a review copy.

If you enjoyed this, why not also try the biography of Ian Curtis, Touching From a Distance, by his widow Deborah, or for an overview on the 80s British music scene, Totally Wired: Post-punk Interviews and Overviews, by Simon Reynolds.

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Buy The Hacienda: How Not To Run A Club by Peter Hook at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Hacienda: How Not To Run A Club by Peter Hook at

Peter Hook appears at Ilkley Literature Festival on 5 October 2012.


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