Sunday, 23 June 2013

Fieldwork in Manchester

After returning to Manchester for the second time on our group excursion, I was able to gain a new perspective on this condensed city. I somehow felt at ease, and recognized a sort of familiarity towards this place. After further exploration I realized this was because it had a similar character and feeling to Melbourne city. Like Melbourne it is full of art galleries, museums, bars, café’s, trams, live music and each area of the city seems to have a distinctive personality. Whilst walking the streets in search of a record store, Sarah and I passed a pub in that was blaring out live music, where we stopped and had a listen.  It was around 3:30 on a Thursday afternoon and the pub called ‘the unicorn’ was filled with only men; quite drunk men at that. As we sat down a man quickly introduced himself. As I am doing my major essay on music, I decided to ask him about the hacienda club, that was once the epicentre for music in Manchester and closed down in 1997. He ‘bubbled’ with excitement as I asked and then told us to go to a club near by that was ‘The new Hacienda’. Along with his thick Mancurian accent and his intoxication, it took me a long time to understand him. I am suspicious that he was under the influence of some sort of stimulatory drug as he had water and seemed to close his eyes and go into what looked like his own world of fast movements “see you there as he got up, see you there”. Hmm maybe not this time, I thought to myself.

We left and continued our mission to find a record store, as I figured the people working there may have some idea of the history of the Hacienda. I wanted to understand the legacy this institution had left on Manchester and if it was still remembered.

In search of one of the stores I had found on Google, we stumbled across ‘Vinyl Revival’ on Hilton St in the Northern quarter. Inside were two older men chatting loudly about music, and where to get rare records etc. After looking through I saw he had many copies of Joy Division records, who of course started in Manchester and first played at the infamous Hacienda in 1979. I have always been a fan of Joy division’s ambient beats and of course the haunting lyrics from the late Ian Curtis. Finally I worked up the courage to ask if he knew of any places that existed in Manchester today similar to the Hacienda. He said with conviction “no there's nothing like it, and there will never be anything else like it.” Digging a little deeper, I discovered he played in the group who were last to play at the Hacienda! ‘Bingo’, I thought to myself, and asked him if he wouldn’t mind giving me a short-recorded interview. He said “sure” and also mentioned that he does them all the time, and features in a couple of books, one published, and one yet to be published about the Hacienda. A quick 6 minute interview later and I had gotten some interesting answers perfect for my essay. He re-enforced the importance this venue had on this city and he seemed to believe that many of the surrounding shops, that consisted of music venues, cafes, bars and fashion houses, would not have existed to the extent they had, had it not been for the Hacienda. This kind of first hand information has re-engaged my interest in this topic of research, and has helped me understand it’s relevance to place. The effects that venues such as the Leadmill in Sheffield, and the Hacienda Manchester, have had on the people and the identity of the city cannot be under estimated.

I would encourage students on any study trip to stop and talk to the locals. They are eyes and ears of the city, who are a living, breathing source of primary information.

- Rose Potter (Bachelor of International Development)



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