‘The legacy exists’: Hacienda spirit rekindled by DJ Graeme Park in Manchester gig

Success from the Hacienda classics show in Manchester could lead to more regular gigs in the near future and beyond, according to Graeme Park.

On Friday 5, Hacienda Classical marked the first time that the legendary club’s DJ’s Park and Mike Pickering have performed with a live orchestra and tickets sold out for the Bridgewater Hall show within minutes of going on sale.

This fusion of contemporary and electronic is the result of trying something completely different, as more of the younger generation are joining the die-hard Hacienda stalwarts on the dance floor.

MM spoke to Park to discuss the upcoming events, the reasons behind the decisions to involve an orchestra in the upcoming shows and the legacy of the Hacienda and house music in general.

“It basically started through a drunken conversation between me and Mike,” he said.

“We decided we should try and get those old Hacienda tunes played in a different way.

“We did Hacienda together every week back then but since it has closed we have realised that the brand still exists and a whole new generation of fans were interested along with the original ones.

“We thought ‘hang on a minute, the crowd are getting younger, they just want to have an association with the Hacienda and see the DJ’s doing what they have always done’ so we started playing a lot more new stuff.”

That drunken conversation happened in January 2015 but it took until August for everything to be finalised, after 70-piece experimental orchestra Manchester Camerata agreed to perform the 90 minute set.

The unique set will comprise of 20 continuous classic Hacienda tracks played through the combination of the orchestra DJ – and Park admitted he wasn’t sure exactly how it would sound.

“To be honest nobody knew if it was going to work until the first rehearsal when we just picked a song to try,” he admitted.

“But it all sounded really good and there was a massive sigh of relief from everyone involved in the Hacienda afterwards.

“The orchestra are amazing. They are not traditional but very experimental. They do all kinds of weird stuff and snapped our hand off when we asked them to get involved.”

The success of these new shows was never really in doubt – especially those in Manchester – and the Hacienda movement is stronger than ever.

Other events in London, Glasgow and Lancaster are taking place in the next couple of months and there is talk of more being announced after that.

“It may end up being between eight and 12 shows this year if all goes to plan,” said Park.

“It has just taken everyone by surprise.

“And if all goes well there, why not continue with it next year with a whole new scope for it and a new set of songs?

“We have three decades of amazing house music to choose from.”

Indeed, Hacienda was arguably the first British club to embrace the whole Chicago house music scene and Manchester kicked off a dance explosion that started in the late 80s and developed through the 90s.

In that time the club became legendary but closed in the summer of 1997 mainly due to financial problems as lack of alcohol sales and high drug use meant the club struggled to even break even.

This is what gives the Hacienda brand its character though according to Park and is why it’s legend still lives on to this day.

“Hacienda happened organically,” he said.

“It grew organically, and like many organic things, died organically.

“It ran out of money, went bankrupt and the bank said ‘that’s it, you’re fucked, we’re not giving you any more money’ – but that’s all part of it.

“If it wasn’t for Hacienda we wouldn’t have had Ministry of Sound, Cream and Gatecrasher because they all looked at us and said we should do that.

According to Park, the reason why these kind of super-brands are still around today is because they are all run like businesses, unlike Hacienda.

Indeed, Peter Hook pointed out in his book How Not to Run a Nightclub that every person that came to Hacienda physically cost him £10, whilst it was New Order bassist Hook and the rest of the band who funded the club substantially.

The question on many peoples’ lips over the past 25 years is whether it would be feasible to re-open the Hacienda today, and why no-one has tried to recreate the legend?

“In the last 10 years there have been two conversations that I’m aware of with people who wanted to re-open the Hacienda,” Park said.

“They were looking at premises in Manchester, but in the end it was decided that although the bricks and mortar are gone, the Hacienda as a spirit and legacy still exists anyway.”

So it seems we will have to make do with the one off shows that Park and his compatriots are gracing us with currently.

The very fact that Hacienda is not a physical entity anymore and feeds from the legend it was formed from is why it is still such an enigma, something which many would be happy to maintain.

But never say never…

Image courtesy of Graeme Park, via Youtube, with thanks

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