In 1987 the UK club scene was evolving at a fast pace across London and Manchester and The Haçienda was becoming increasingly regarded and name-checked from outside the Factory circles and locals by the style press and increasingly people from Europe, North America as far as Australia. From the positive groundwork laid in 1986, the club was working well, making money for once, although notably not the night of the New Year’s Eve farce end of year.
But more of that later, the emphasis on club nights continued with three fully working nights across Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and as many club owners will attest, once the core nights at any venue are working, this brings a greater amount of stability to the enterprise and also allows more room to experiment. Dave Haslam’s Temperance Club continued to bring in a mixed indie student crowd to his eclectic soundtrack bring the releases of new Manchester bands like Happy Mondays, James and the pre-Silverstone into the Haçienda’s soundtrack. Nude was established as one of the, if not the, countries leading nights for the new cutting edge tracks, culled from Manchester’s best record shops like Eastern Bloc and Spin Inn, but arriving from Chicago, Detroit, New York and increasingly from the UK. Wide with Dean Johnson on Saturday also took in house and club sounds but with a more soulful aspect from the Fridays.
The ever energetic Paul Cons was busy leaving his imprint on the design of the promotion and the nights themselves, bringing the influences that were to lead him promoting Flesh with regular events bringing in the Red Wedge Men And Women’s tour in February and March as well as celebrating World Aids day start of April and organising along with Dave Haslam who had also chipped in the Red Wedge Events, a benefit for Aidsline on 7th April 1987 which featured The Woodentops, Everything But The Girl, (Ben Watt & Tracey Thorne) and Marc Almond.
Nevertheless the big story of the years was the rise of dance music as what had been a trickle in 1986, suddenly became a stream, and Mike Pickering observed that the crowd, the dancing and the fashions were changing then, and for good. Mike and Rob Gretton sought to celebrate influence of Chicago House and how it was then breaking new ground, bringing over the cream of the producers and DJ’s for their first UK gig. Cementing relationships that were to last many years, Marshall Jefferson, Adonis, Frankie Knuckles, Kevin Irving, & Fingers Inc came to debut at the club, Monday 9th March, a night that was memorably and spectacularly unattended.
The Hacienda also showed it’s ahead of its time colours with a label showcase for Sleeping Bag Records and Fresh Review in June 87 that saw Joyce Sims, then riding high with hit “Come Into My Life”, T-La Rock, Hanson & Davis, and Just-Ice all perform. Across the board 1987 is always seen as a vintage year for music and a real story were the first acid house and techno tunes, with Detroit coming to the fore as Derrick May’s “Transmat” put out “Nude Photo” in February, taking his lead from Juan Atkins’ “No UFO’s” and “The Sounds Of Stereo” the previous years. Derrick followed this with “Kaos” , “The Dance” and then “Strings Of Life” soon after, whilst the Kevin Saunderson as Reese And Santiano unleashed “The Dance”, DJ Pierre made history with the seminal scene setting “Acid Trax” by Phuture.
In the UK, DJs began to produce as Dave Dorrell and CJ Mackintosh scored a number one hit worldwide with “Pump Up The Volume”, and Mike Pickering as T-Coy put out the latin fused classic “Carino”, tunes like “House Arrest” by Krush, “Living In A Box” hit the charts while the Cooltempo label put out US NY Club tracks in the UK, leading to hits with Eric B & Rakim, Criminal Element Orchestra’s “Put The Needle On The Records” and 2 Domincans, A Porta Rican, And A Blackman’s “Do It Properly”, the latter produced by Civilles And Cole.
Meanwhile as Michael Jackson’s ”Bad”, Janet Jackson’s “Control” and Whitney “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” were released and more mainstream artists were taking note of dance music and its producers. With Prince “Sign O The Times” many’s album of the year and possibly decade, the US was also for many more underground anthems of the year such as Company B’s “Fascinated”, Steve Silk Hurley’s megahit “, Frankie Knuckles adding a vocal to Jamie Principle’s “Your Love”, and the first ever releases of Ralphi Rosario’s “You Use To Hold Me”.
A very open minded music policy pervaded both The Hacienda and the scene at large, “Big Love” by Fleetwood Mac, produced by New Order cohort, Arthur Baker, and Bruce Hornsby’s “The Way It Is” established themselves as Balearic classics, and the state and hope surrounding music was reflected in the club and the Manchester scene at large.
Factory was doing well, and the club was doing well, at the same time as New Order released their most successful album “Substance 1987” collating all their singles while the releases of “True Faith” and “Touched By The Hand Of God” became international standards for the band. Yet as New Order toured the world and played to arenas across North America, the changes at the club saw Ellie Gray leave, herself noticing elements such as increasing drug use at the club and changes in the regular crowd.
The climate allowed more experimental club nights as the coiniciding with the return of the students, The Haçienda launched “Zumbar”, summed up by Paul Cons as “an adventurous mix of live Entertainment, fashion & disco, a night of exotic variety”, that mixed art, comedy, and live and brought a lot of off the wall but now legendary guests to the Hacienda including Jerry Sadowitz, Julian Cleary’s Joan Collins Fan Club, Phil And Steve Diggle, Stevie Starr “The Regurgitator”, and a legenday pre Christmas singing performance by Manchester Dame Liz Dawn, known for many years for her canny portrayal of Vera Duckworth in Coronation Street.
Zumbar also famously featured a wheel of fortune announcing drinks prices for the next half hour, yet on opening night it got stuck on “free drinks” and Tony Wilson was to fire Paul Mason for 24 hours. It had been rigorously tested prior to use and during tests after never behaved the same way again so Tony acknowledged it couldn’t be Paul’s fault so he was later reinstated.
With the emphasis on club nights and this being before dance music began to emit live bands and PA’s on a regular basis, the live dates at the club were few and far between but the Factory bands of the time, Happy Mondays, Durutti Column and New Order played during 1987 whilst FAC 51 also saw appearances from The Mighty Lemon Drops, Edwyn Colling and Age Of Chance, enjoying success with a indie dance rock version of Prince’s “Kiss.”
So, as the KLF once put it as the Justified Ancients Of Mu Mu that year, “1987, What The Fucks Going On”, it seemed there was confidence around, a sense of musical and social assertiveness that wasn’t only across Manchester, but around emerging warehouse parties and raves throughout the UK, and although two epic events were just around the corner, as ever no one was any the wiser as to the future.
Capping off the News Years Eve Party at The Haçienda, the nights takings, some £5000, were accidently set fire to and wound up as cinders. Many saw it as a poetic reflection of the amount of money the club had burnt to get to this point.