The story of Factory Records and the Haçienda never ceases to amaze me. The movie 24 Hour Party People is a good primer of the basic facts of the whole story, (and my review points out how many of the bizarre things in that film actually happened.) A small record label based out of Manchester develops a huge following, and from the beginning, it proves to be a highly eccentric entity, from the founding document (written in Tony Wilson’s own blood) reading “The musicians own everything, the company owns nothing. All our bands have the freedom to fuck off” to their unusually liberal attitude towards their discography, which featured everything from records to posters to a freaking egg-timer treated as equal parts of the catalogue.
Then they create The Haçienda, the hottest club in Manchester, one which despite never breaking even, remained packed every night for over a decade. And one point that wasn’t mentioned in the movie (though Tony Wilson gave it a shoutout in his commentary for the film, as well as his autobiography, and even said it was “the most important piece of journalism I’ve read in the last 20 years,”) was Freaky Dancing. Named after an early single by Happy Mondays:
It was first printed in the summer of 1989 and its first eight issues were given away to people who were spending their Friday nights queueing up to try and get into the club, because, of course, it’s not like there was much else to do but wait when you’re standing in line for a chance to get into the hottest club in town.
The magazine was written by Factory fans Paul Gill and Ste Pickford, during the week, while they were working their proper 9 to 5 jobs, eventually copying their work on Friday afternoon at Ste’s office, and handing them out for free for the fans who wanted to get in on Friday nights.
Quoth Paul Gill: “Both Ste and I came from a background of putting out fanzines. In fact, picking up each other’s fanzines is how we first met. By the time we were both clubbing at the Haçienda, it seemed the most natural thing for us to put something together for the club. The first 8 were distributed for free to the people in the queue then we started selling them in shops and bars around Manchester in he vain attempt to break financially even – we never did!”
It seems like an interesting parallel with the Haçienda itself, which, despite being extremely popular, never broke even (in the Haçienda’s case, largely due to the ravers not making use of the bars, a major source of income for any nightclub.)
Ste Pickford noticed this parallel, saying that: “Reading back through them, I think the most interesting thing is to see the trajectory of the fanzine, which matched that of the club, as it changed from blissful optimism to something a lot more darker. Too many guns, too much violence and way too many drugs… Reading back through it all, it does get better towards the end. By the final issue I think it’s actually a really good magazine with a great balance of strips and written content, and regular one-off features. It would have been in good shape to step up from being a fanzine to a proper magazine.”
And now, Gill and Pickford, in collaboration with music website The Quietus, have collected all eleven issues of the magazine. Quoth Paul Gill: “I only completed the fanzine collection recently after tracking down issues on eBay. I ended up in a bidding war for one issue and ended up paying something like £20 for it which was sort of ironic considering we gave the magazine away for free!”
While there are actually versions of the book available online currently (a $10 Kindle version on Amazon US and £15 paperback on Amazon UK), according to The Quietus, the book is officially expected to be released on February 21. The fact that we have Amazon listings claiming it’s already been released and its publisher claiming that it won’t be released for another 2 weeks and change would appear to be a major contradiction that I can’t resolve at the moment. I can only assume that Amazon jumped the gun on reporting its release date.
In addition, there will be a launch party for the book on March 2, at Manchester nightclub the Soup Kitchen, including a conversation with Gill, Pickford, and John Doran of The Quietus, a book signing, a DJ set by Hardcore Uproar’s Suddi Raval, and orchestral versions of electronic music by Classical Uproar. Tickets will be available here.
And now, Classical Uproar: