1986-87

In September 1986, about 4 months after Temperance Club started on Thursdays at the Hacienda, Dave Haslam took over the Saturday night with Dean Johnson, a soul DJ who also worked in other Manchester city centre clubs.

‘Wide Night’ was (I assume) designed to appeal to black and white club going audiences alike because the two DJs came from completely different backgrounds; billed on the posters as DJs Hedd & Dean, they looked a bit like Laurel and Hardy when standing side-by-side in real life – no insult is intended!

Wide Night publicity followed the usual Factory pattern of communicating nothing to potential punters apart from the fact that The Hacienda was ‘really cool’ – but this wasn’t as damaging as usual because people who were going to Temperance were prepared to give Wide Night a go, and word soon spread that the music was really good.

There were none of the guitar band tunes which Hedd played on the Thursday Temperance nights – not that I remember, anyway. The music was broadly a mix of Hedd’s electronic indie music and Dean’s funky soul and house imports – tunes like Gwen Guthrie’s ‘Nothin’ Goin’ On But The Rent’, Joyce Sims’ ‘Lifetime Love’ and tracks by House Sound of Chicago artists. They also played Hip-hop.

There was an openess and lack of blinkered elitism in the choice of music; the DJs appeared to be approaching the same musical territory, while coming from apparently very different starting points. A short, tongue-in-cheek article in City Life described Wide’s music policy as ‘post-modern’ because it was eclectic. The music was always very current, however… the genres were varied but the tracks were usually very recent.

Important club songs which I remember from this time include:

A Certain Ratio – Mickey Way (The Candy Bar) (1986)

New Order – Bizarre Love Triangle (1986)

This was the time when New Order were most in sync musically with their club. Although pigeon-holed as an ‘indie’ band, their electronic music worked best in a club context and mixed well with the new House music and other electronic/Hip-hop tunes that were big at the time:

Nu Shooz – I Can’t Wait (1986)

Mantronix – Scream (1986)

Nitro Deluxe – This Brutal House (1986)

I read recently that the label and sleeve of Krush ‘House Arrest’ were designed to make the record look like an American import, (it was British,) because American imports had much more kudos amongst DJs at the time:

Krush – House Arrest (1987)

‘Pump Up The Volume’ by London-based M.A.R.R.S. (A.R. Kane and Colourbox) was a number one hit in 1987; the samples of official-sounding, slightly old-fashioned American voices were a peculiar, much-repeated ‘tick’ within sampled music at the time, perhaps because the samples were easily available. Industrial and machine images were also a recurring theme in videos of the time.

M.A.R.R.S. – Pump Up The Volume (1987)

Archive film of space, industry, factory production lines and other impersonal human activity were routinely shown on the big screens at the Hacienda on either side of the dancefloor while music was playing, along with clips from silent films and very early cartoons. This was all part of a tendency to celebrate the machine-like nature of the music and down-play any human emotional side. This was reminiscent of the film ‘Koyaanisqatsi: Life out of Balance’ (1982) by Godfrey Reggio and Ron Fricke, where the time-lapse photography makes the human race appear like an insect colony, rather than a species of mammal, or a group of individuals with emotions.

This can also be seen in the video for T-COY’s ‘Carino’.

‘Boops’ by Sly and Robbie had an air of uneasy tension and subtle malice in its sound which was shared by many of the dance tracks around that time. ‘Girls & Boys’ by Prince was another catchy but queasy-sounding track, and I remember these songs being played in sequence, along with Nitro Deluxe ‘This Brutal House’ and Fats Comet ‘Rockchester’. Anything uneasy or edgy seemed to work well in the Hacienda, and this fitted with what was happening in ‘alternative’ dance music at the time; it wasn’t straight-forward, feel-good music in the conventional soul tradition… there was a compulsory ‘angst’ going on.

This was why Rick Astley was never considered cool, even though ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ was an outstanding song.

Sly & Robbie – Boops (Here To Go) (1987)

Eric B & Rakim – Cold Cutz Remix (1987)

Most of these tunes were also being played by Hewan Clarke at Black Rhythms on a Wednesday at Manchester Polytechnic Student Union, from 1986-87, although he also played classic seventies tracks like Curtis Mayfield’s ‘Move On Up’ and Gil Scott Heron’s ‘The Bottle'; I didn’t find out until much later that Clarke had previously DJ’d Saturday nights at the Hacienda for several years.

1987-88

Wide was the Hacienda’s most successful club night during 1987-1988. This is confirmed by the listings in City Life magazine: in September 1987, long-running Nude Night dropped its prices to £1 before 11pm, £1.50 after, while Wide Night (which had been going a year) put its prices up to £2 before 11pm, £2.50 after, and the listing warned that the night was normally sold out by midnight, when the door-price went up to £3. This state of affairs continued for another year until Autumn 1988.

I went to the new Wednesday night Zumbar in Autumn 1987 partly because the Saturdays became too busy – I preferred the Hacienda when it wasn’t packed. We would still go regularly to Wide though, because it was the best big Saturday night out in town.

Zumbar was a reaction against Wide to some extent, because although Wide was originally considered ‘eclectic’, by Spring 1988 it seemed less so. Wide’s ‘broad’ playlist was never-the-less limited by the music always being ‘cool’ and ‘current’.

Zumbar overcame these limitations by posing as ‘ironic’ and ‘kitsch’, allowing us to dance with abandon to The Trammps’ ‘Burn Baby Burn’ or Madonna’s ‘Get Into The Groove’.

The new care-free, positive vibe seemed to come initially from a re-evaluation of 1970s dance music. Disco had been labelled uncool and consigned to the scrap heap by the punk-obsessed media during most of the 1980s, but it was being rediscovered through the gay clubs and probably also by people searching for material to sample. This trend flowered into the ‘Acid Jazz’ scene in London, although this was obscured somewhat by the high profile of the emerging Rave scene.

All this was reflected by the new dance music played at Wide Night: ‘Theme from S’Express’ (April 1988) was very exciting because it combined the house sound with seventies samples and a genuine seventies good-time vibe.

S’Express – Theme From S’Express (Spring 1988)

It’s interesting that the video makers still felt obliged to include film footage of planes, weapons and rockets in the video even though there is no link whatsoever between these images and the song! They obviously felt that an injection of angst was necessary, via the video, otherwise the track might not appear cool to the public.

In July 1988, Wednesday’s Zumbar night changed to Hot, which was dedicated entirely to acid house. Wide Night still played a variety of new music including acid house and dance tracks such as Funky Worm’s ‘Hustle To The Music’ and Inner City’s ‘Big Fun’, which isn’t acid house at all, even though the video pretends that it is:

Inner City – Big Fun (Autumn 1988)

So much had changed over the summer that the video’s opening shots show ravey dance moves, and the video pushes the ‘good times’ feel of the song with confidence. The recurrent ‘alienation theme’ of the mid-late 80s has given way to a ‘green light to party’, but paradoxically most early acid house was not euphoric or even particularly happy-sounding; most of it was edgy, minimalist and trance-like.

1989

In Spring 1988, The Hacienda offered four very distinct club nights from Wednesday-Saturday (Zumbar, Temperance, Nude and Wide). Twelve months later, three of the four weekly nights (Void, Nude and Wide) were essentially acid house/rave nights.

Hedd & Dean DJ’d Wide Night from Autumn 1986 until Spring 1989, at which point Dean left and Jon Da Silva took his place. For some reason some of the official histories don’t list Wide Night as a regular night and I can find very little reference to Wide Night on the internet – very odd.

I stopped going to the Hacienda as regularly during 1989. There were lots of other clubs doing musically more interesting nights like Breeze, Carwash and Friday nights at the PSV for instance. Plus the Hacienda became more expensive and harder to get into. Dry Bar started selling advance tickets which meant that we needed to be organised and make our plans early. In the days before mobile phones, the internet and credit cards this was just too much like hard work for most of us. We got our Factory fix in Dry (cheaply and without queueing) and then dispersed to other clubs, with occasional forrays back to the Hacienda to see if the music had changed yet… but it hadn’t.

Dean was also involved with Expansions Record Shop and Soul Nights at The Gallery and Parkers Hotel… the very distinctive building at the end of Cross Street/Corporation Street, at the crossroads with Miller Street, at the Cheetham Hill Road end: