This Day in ’82: The Hacienda Opens Its Doors for the First Time

Tuesday, May 21, 2019
This Day in Music

37 years ago today, one of the most famous music venues in the history of the UK – nay, the world! – opened its doors in Manchester, England, and to commemorate the occasion, we thought we’d spotlight an appearance that was made at the club by an artist whose name isn’t immediately associated with the place the way that, say, New Order and the Happy Mondays are.

Conceived by Rob Gretton and significantly financed by Tony Wilson, Factory Records, and New Order, The Hacienda earned its biggest claim to fame from playing house music and, in turn, becoming associated with the genre so profoundly that it was rare to hear one of them mentioned without the other one being referenced immediately thereafter. Prior to gaining its reputation as a top dance spot, however, The Hacienda known predominantly for the live performances that took place there, one of which was the very first UK performance of a certain “Material Girl” whose name and face may ring a bell.



Madonna’s performance also led to her debut TV appearance in the UK: her performances of “Holiday” and “Burning Up” were broadcast live on Channel 4 as part of an episode of The Tube. When The Guardian looked back at the episode for a 2005 article, they described her look: “black cropped vest, black sawn-off leggings, black ra-ra skirt, a spray of wavy hair, big crucifix earrings, and a bare navel - a more clubby version of your basic 80s dance-studio look, not as embarrassing as it might have been, but not half as sharp as the stylized version of 80s disco chic that she has adopted now.”

Needless to say, many heads were turned by Madonna’s look and her performance, and one of those individuals was none other than Norman Cook, a.k.a. Fatboy Slim, who was in attendance as the resident DJ.

You should definitely check that aforementioned article from The Guardian, but before we depart, we wanted to share with you what Cook had to say about that fateful day:

“I was in the audience, you can see me about twice. I was invited by Kermit to see the filming. It was probably the first time I'd ever been to Manchester. This was pre-Housemartins: I was 21, at Brighton Polytechnic, DJing a bit. I wasn't Norman then, I was Quentox: The Ox That Rocks!

“Madonna was pretty much unknown at that point. I'd seen a couple of pictures of her in The Face, on the grounds that she was Jellybean Benitez's girlfriend. There were so many bands on, there was a kind of communal dressing room, all the bands were hanging about and there was this tiny little American girl, looking pretty foxy. She caught your eye. Kermit and the boys started talking to her: ‘Who are you?’ – ‘I"m Madonna.’ She was really friendly, very affable. You have to be affable when you're on the bottom rung.

“She said, ‘You've got to come and give us some support,’ so we were down the front. She wasn't on the stage, just on the dance floor. Singing? Nah, I doubt it. She danced like Cliff Richard with hips - two arms in the air, the ‘power to all our friends’ dance, but with much hip movement. She mesmerized the crowd. She won a huge number of friends that day. You figured there was a personality there, it wasn't just a faceless dance record. That one performance might have been the thing that broke her in England, maybe not on the pop scene but as a dance artist.

“Her career has had highs and lows, she's done some great tracks and a couple of stinkers. One thing I'll say for her, she's really brave in her choice of producers - people like Stuart [Price], and Mirwais, who are mavericks. She knows her onions and she's prepared to take a risk.

“I've been asked to remix her a few times. She asked me to do ‘Ray of Light.’ I did speak to her on the phone about that - I said it just wasn't my sort of song. She got Sasha to do that and it worked brilliantly. The worst thing about that day at the Hacienda was that the mate I went up with was a photographer, and I could have had my picture taken with Madonna in her full string vest. But I didn't.”