Graeme Park

DJ Graeme Park talks about The Haçienda in Dubai

DJ Graeme Park
DJ Graeme Park
Tony Wilson
Tony Wilson
Peter Saville
Peter Saville
Shaun Ryder
Shaun Ryder

Hi, Graeme. Are you good to talk?
Yeah, I’m good! I’m just finishing something on eBay.

What are you buying?
I’m just at the checkout – I’m buying some [laughs] Shiseido For Men Gentle Warming Cleanser. It’s my favourite face wash and it costs £20 [Dhs122], but I found it for £10 on eBay. There you go. Done it.

The secret to that Graeme Park look, eh?
Well, when you’re in your 40s and clubbing every weekend, there are lots of male grooming products going on, I tell you.

Do you use eBay for buying records?
I do occasionally buy records. And sometimes I find people selling cassettes of mixes I did back in The Haçienda. I used to record them and hand them out, but a lot of the ones on sale on eBay are really bad quality – they’re third or fourth generation – and people are trying to sell them for £7 [Dhs42]. Then people buy them, find they’re bad quality and ask me if I have the originals.

Do you?
I do actually have the old chrome cassettes from the ’80s and now I’m working on an idea to make them available to people. Hopefully in the next few weeks there will be an announcement – if it works!

Do you have any particularly special memories of The Haçienda?
I was there every week from the summer of ’88 to the summer of ’96 and, without exception – well, aside from the really bleak period before we had to close in ’92 because of gang problems – every Friday with Mike Pickering from ’88 to ’92 and every Saturday with Tom Wainwright from ’92 to ’96 was just amazing. It’s hard to remember specific events because it melds into one eight-year party. But some stuff stands out, like the birthdays and New Year’s Eve parties, when we’d get Frankie Knuckles or some other top-tier talent in.

Was it really that good?
Yeah, every weekend was incredible. In Europe these days there are so many clubs and so many niche DJs playing sub-genres of sub-genres that the audience is divided into little groups. But The Haçienda attracted everyone; we’d play all kinds of house music and people would let you get on with it – you wouldn’t get people coming up saying, ‘Play something harder, play that filthy electro.’ That’s one of the reasons The Haçienda shut – eventually there was so much else to do on a Saturday night that everyone could disperse and find a venue that appealed to their tiny niche.

So what do The Haçienda World Tour nights sound like?
Although there’s no actual Haçienda club any more, it evokes such memories among different people that it can be many things. Some people think of Madchester and indie music, some people think of the house music, and some of the younger crowd will go to a Haçienda night with Sasha and John Digweed just playing what they play now. That’s what I like about it – one weekend it’s a mix of old and new, the next weekend I’ll be playing to a club where they want current stuff, and the one after I’m doing a proper Haçienda classics night. And even within that, it might be vocal ’90s stuff or late-’80s acid house. I’ve got quite eclectic tastes and no favourite period, so I just love it. I’ll just bring 11,000 MP3s and see where the crowd wants to take it.

What made The Haçienda special?
I’ve played some amazing clubs, but I’ve yet to find one that has that same electric atmosphere. You would feel it at the crossroads outside; I’d get out of my taxi before a gig and there’d be people talking to their mates, trying to sneak into the queue, running to the cash machine; there was this incredible air of anticipation. Inside there was a different kind of anticipation: a cold, eerie atmosphere as they stocked the shelves and you got ready to put that first tune on. That track was so important – it would decide the whole start of your set. And then you’d hear, ‘Ready, Graeme?’ And you’d shout, ‘Ready!’ and all that warmth would come in from outside as people flocked in and started dancing.

How did you feel when the club closed in 1996?
I wasn’t there when it shut; I’d stopped doing weekly residencies six months before. I was initially shocked – ‘Oh my god, The Haçienda’s shut!’ – but not surprised. I was even a little glad. But when they demolished it [in 2000], they asked me, [New Order/Joy Division founder and co-owner of The Haçienda] Peter Hook and the late [Haçienda co-owner] Tony Wilson to come back to the building while it was being demolished. As we were talking, a big JCB came across the dancefloor and started to tear down the presidium arch above the stage. Then it started to rip the stage up, and I got a massive lump in my throat and thought: That’s it – there’s no going back now.

Oh dear…
Yeah, I got really, really upset, thinking: Why did I ever agree to [going back]? The image of the JCB destroying that stage, which is what I used to look at for eight years, got me quite upset. But when they started making 24 Hour Party People [a film focusing on Tony Wilson and Manchester’s late-’80s music community] they built a replica of The Haçienda for a set, and they wanted me to DJ on the night to replicate the scene. I walked into the set and it was the eeriest moment of my life. They’d rebuilt it from the original plans, to the millimetre. And when I got to the decks, I discovered they’d installed the original DJ box, and Mike Pickering, who I’d DJed with since 1988, was there. Then I heard this voice saying, ‘All right, Parky?’ and I turned to the lighting box and saw Jonathan and Mark who used to do the lights. It was doing my head in, but then they opened the doors and everyone flocked in, and it was like going back in time! It was the most uncanny thing, but it was good for me – until that day, all I could think about when people mentioned The Haçienda was the JCB tearing it up. But now I remember that night, and all the amazing nights that came before.

Graeme Park plays Alpha on December 3. To hear Graeme’s radio show, visit

Who’s who of The Haçienda

A whole gang of celebs, singers, producers and punters passed through The Haçienda’s doors during its 15-year run. Here are just a few…

Tony Wilson
In his time Wilson was a TV chat show host, radio presenter and journalist, but it’s as a co-founder of both Factory Records and its nightclub, The Haçienda, that he’ll be remembered. Known as ‘Mr Manchester’ for his promotion of the city’s music culture, Wilson’s impact on both the city and the UK as a whole was huge. He died of a heart attack in 2007 after struggling with renal cancer. Steve Coogan portrayed Wilson in 24 Hour Party People, Michael Winterbottom’s film about the ‘Madchester’ music and club scene.

Peter Hook
Co-founder of post-punk gods Joy Division (and, after the death of lead singer Ian Curtis, New Order), Hook co-founded The Haçienda and, after Tony Wilson died, took the decision to start the never-ending Haçienda World Tour. His book, The Haçienda: How Not to Run a Club, was released earlier this year.

Peter Saville
Saville was the brilliant artist behind many of Factory Records’ albums and posters, including the cover of New Order’s ‘Blue Monday’ single, which had an elaborate die-cut cover that – if legend is to be believed – cost so much to manufacture that they actually lost money on each copy sold. He was also famously bad at keeping deadlines, sometimes producing posters weeks after the events had actually happened.

Shaun Ryder
Lead singer and songwriter of Happy Mondays, one of Factory Records’ biggest signings (and, also some of Britain’s most infamous party animals), Shaun Ryder was no stranger to the club. The money brought in by the Mondays bankrolled other Factory projects, but the band also aided in its undoing. In order to get away from drugs, the band recorded what was to be their final album, Yes Please!, in Barbados – so the drug dealers followed them. It took the band two years and was a disaster (defunct music mag Melody Maker fobbed it off with two words: ‘No thanks’), dealing Factory a major blow.

Mike Pickering

One of Graeme Park’s co-DJs and an employee of Factory Records, Mike was responsible for signing acts like Happy Mondays and James. He’s now the head of A&R of Sony’s Columbia label.

Yes indeed – the queen of pop’s first-ever UK gig was at the club, back in 1984.

The Smiths
Bequiffed crybaby Morrissey and the rest of the brilliant UK mopers played three gigs at the club in 1983, a year before the release of their debut album.

Now a renowned DJ in his own right, Sasha discovered dance music – specifically late-’80s acid house – at The Haçienda, where he was mentored by then-resident Jon DaSilva. He’s best known for teaming up with John Digweed, who also played at the club.

Jon The Postman
Something of a legend in Manchester at the time, Jon the Postman (he was a postman, see?) would jump onto the city’s stages as bands were leaving them and sing rock ’n’ roll classics. He released two albums, one of which featured the first recording of…

Mark E Smith
Singer of British post-punk band The Fall, which has featured more than 60 artists over 30 years of performing.

Fac 191
Factory Records gave a catalogue number to almost everything it was involved with. These included FAC 1, an event poster; FAC 51, The Haçienda; FAC 98, a hair salon; FAC 401, the film 24 Hour Party People; FAC 148, a bucket on a restored watermill; and, finally, FAC 501, Tony Wilson’s coffin. FAC 191 was The Haçienda’s cat.

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