Madchester | In-depth documentary featuring Tony Wilson, New Order, The Stone Roses and The Happy Mondays

[dropcap]M[/dropcap]adchester is an important phenomenon that appeared in the wake of Post Punk, as New Order turned to Dance Music and the band, collaborating with their record company Factory Records, opened the Haçienda, a future hotspot that got infamously portrayed in the excellent movie 24 Hour Party People and in Peter Hook‘s book The Haçienda – How Not To Run A Club.

Eventually, the club gave way to Rave parties. Founded in 1982, the club wasn’t a success, but according to Tony Wilson, it survived by moving money from Factory to the club and back to keep both companies running—but nevertheless, the reputation of the Haçienda is, still, very dubious, thus, glorious. Maybe the venue has found a nice successor in Berlin’s infamous Berghain.

Both club’s reputations are based on being trend setters, and as every DJ wanted to spin records at the Haçienda as Acid House was big and stripped down music to rhythm and danceability, perfectly working dancefloor smashers whose efficiency was increased by fun amplifiers, to put it mildly (Yes, we’re speaking about drugs)—it can make white men dance.

Taking up influences from the continent (Belgium) and the US, where Chicago was a hotspot for dance music tunes, sounds from machines like the Roland SH-101, best known for those zip-zap bass line sounds, the drum machines TR-808 and Tr-909 were responsible for smashing Kick and Snare drums and the echoes of the late 80s and early 90s are still audible in many techno tracks, not to mention the numerous machines emulating the iconic synths.

Apparently, cities known for being grey and dull, something that certainly applied to Manchester if you did not know where to look for the right spots to find inspirational music (Sheffield is another prime example for dull cities that brought us iconic artists like Cabaret Voltaire and The Human Leagueor Throbbing Gristle who were from Kingston upon Hull). As the Berlin wall fell, the city experienced an increasing amount of dance music, and what slept soundly in the obscure corners of the music world is now famous as Techno and House, yet, the connection to EBM, Industrial (predominantly on the continent) and House (UK) is undeniable.

Of course, the very over-the-top styling of the Mancs that haunted the Haçienda is debatable, but fashion comes and goes for better or worse. The documentary, that aired on an unspecified date in the early 90s, reflects on the trend that literally raved among the British youth in that time.

Eventually, the Haçienda closed down due to ongoing financial issues but is it too far off that we christen Berghain as its legitimate successor? Arguably, the dark scene in Berlin has an unhealthy fascination for Berghain, despite it is being musically inspiring and many cool records emerge from the connection between Berghain and the Post Punk/Wave/EBM protagonists of Berlin, so we do not complain too much.

Part two focuses on New Order, which is extremely interesting as well.

P.S.: According to reliable sources, the Haçienda follow up club FAC251 isn’t worth your time if you visit Manchester, still, the Old Trafford might be a better pick to fill the gaps in your tourist schedule, and despite insulting Louis Van Gaal is very tempting, please don’t. That’s impolite.