At A Glance
Do You Own The Dancefloor? Director Chris Hughes and I have been on a four year journey, enjoying many a fun evening Q&Aing his documentary about the Manchester nightclub The Haçienda. And for its final public screening the film received a perfect send off with thanks to boutique cinema group Everyman as part of their Everyman Music Film Festival on the 21st May, 2019. Haçienda designer Ben Kelly, resident DJ Graeme Park and Chris Hughes joined me on stage to talk about the club and its legacy.
Do You Own The Dancefloor? Remembering the Good Life
By Claire Bueno
In the 80s and 90s The Haçienda night club was the Mecca for any house nation. People from all around the globe would queue for hours to step into the converted warehouse and dance to distraction, people worshipped its walls. So when the club was demolished to make room for residential apartments, it was an opportunity for all those with an affinity with the club to resurrect those feelings of nostalgia and own their own piece of the dancefloor.
Owning his own Haçienda artefact film and documentary enthusiast Chris Hughes rose to a challenge; to track down other people who own their piece of the infamous nightclub and make a documentary.
For a club that became a significant venue in popularising the House music movement, Ben Kelly rationalises his reasoning for originally hiding the original DJ booth. We have to remember at the time the nightclub opened there was no whiff of Chicago House, the Acid House movement and the age of worshiping DJs was yet to land and revolutionise night life forever. Back when Kelly was conceptualising and designing the ex-yachting showroom, the plan for the club was to host bands.
Manchester independent record label Factory Records whose bands included New Order and Happy Mondays devised a plan to launch a venue celebrating emerging talent, and so was born The Haçienda AKA FAC 51 hence Kelly designed the DJ booth so it could be discretely hidden.
Do You Own The Dancefloor though is much more than a documentary charting the rise and fall of the nightclub, this is a documentary about people, the colourful characters that frequented The Haçienda to whom by owning a piece of the building connects them to their own personal history. Through their accounts we truly form an appreciation of why even 30 plus years later the club still resonates, and why it is still held with such affection.
European Club DJ Graeme Park whose initiation into The Haçienda hall of fame was by providing holiday cover, soon became a firm favourite and went on to have a residency there, he attributes the euphoria that permeated in part to a little white pill. Ecstasy or not, Park having DJ’d all around the globe was resolute that to this day, nowhere has topped The Haçienda as a venue.
For his directorial debut Chris Hughes with no background in filmmaking collected his interviews, studied countless documentaries to craft a solid documentary that forms three distinct acts.
The evening though was full of surprises and one of the mysteries that still shrouds the doc was what happened to the DJ booth, not the Ben Kelly one I hasten to add. As House music tsunamied its way into popular culture, so came the Super DJ riding the wave to Pump Up The Volume, play Fascinating Rhythm(s) and take clubbers to the Promised Land! Yes, the DJ needed a suitable pulpit to play to his congregation. Amongst the nautical coloured walls and Kelly’s now iconic, practical yet aesthetically pleasing hazard emblazoned steel girders, a new booth was erected.
But since the auction the location of the far from inconspicuous booth had become something of an urban myth. Bobby Langley had been the accidental hero to rescue the box and for this final screening Langley was in attendance and was invited to join the panel on stage. After a 15 year journey with the doc it only felt fitting to hand the mike over to Hughes to ask the burning question. “Where is The Haçienda DJ booth?” ………. Well all I am going to say is house still has a home!
With all the proceeds going to charity Kidneys for Life and Cancer Research UK Do You Own The Dancefloor? Is now available to buy on DVD.
Photography with thanks to Everyman