manchester 80 aritz branton   25 years ago, just like now, Manchester was a very ugly city: ugly, dark, gloomy. But if you really like music, it was a very interesting city to live in. After punk, it was one of the liveliest cities in England to live in. The Buzzcocks gave us their romantic, frustrated punk; The Fall brought us crude music and Mark E Smith's strange, hypnotic voice; Joy Division's darkness cheered us up. Some of us, anyway.

I went there from my small town to study English Literature. But, as we thought it was the world capital of music, I studied more modern music than poetry. As Uncle Lou used to sing, all those poets studied rules of verse and those ladies, they rolled their eyes ... In fact, I did study rules of verse, but those ladies didn't blink my way. Well, not often.

To keep up my luxurious life-style, I had to work as a barman at the Haçienda. Although it was a routine job, there were a couple of advantages: seeing any concert you wanted to free and knowing lots of people, including lots of musicians.

Along with the groups, clubs were very important at that time. The Haçienda was the most important club. Factory Recordists opened the Haçienda in 1982. They took the name from a book by Aldous Huxley, and drugs had a lot to do with that decision.

More than once, Karl Burns, The Fall and PIL's drummer, tried to sell me strange substances. But on the one hand I really wasn't interested, beer was enough for me, and, on the other hand, I knew he cut his substances with kitchen cleaning products.

But the main thing about the Haçienda was promoting music and general modernity in Manchester, a large, ugly and previously industrial city. At that time unemployment was the biggest employer and the Haçienda itself was set up in an old factory. It was beautiful: beautiful, industrial, large.

When you're 19 anything's possible. There aren't any doubts or, if there are any, the doubts themselves are doubtful and easily got over. I needed to earn money, and that's why I worked at the Haçienda. But it took a lot of hours to get the money I needed. Fleeing from originality, as ever, and at the gates of making another mistake, once more, I decided to open a new club.

I found a good premises in the centre of town and reached an agreement with the owner to open once a week. But I knew that I'd need to open with a really good concert if I wanted to make a success of it. How would I get hold of the right group? I'd get it by just asking. Otherwise there was no way I was going to open the club.

The Smith's first record, Hand in Glove, had just come out and I knew the members of the group by sight, from the Haçienda, of course. I thought that song was incredibly beautiful, romantic and full of mystery.

So one night I went up to Morrissey and told him I thought The Smiths were a great group. Our Stephen said he thought it was a great group too. I laughed, lost all my confidence and walked away. So I couldn't get the Smiths to open the club for me and, what's more, they became very famous shortly after that.

I couldn't wait for ever, I didn't want to lose the agreement I'd reached with the premises' owner I decided to talk with Mark E Smith. I chose a good moment and went down to the Haçienda's underground bar, The Gay Traitor (named after the spy Anthony Blunt). Just a moment, he told me, and carried on talking with two blokes.

I knew them by sight. They were the Happy Mondays brothers. They always looked nervous, and that day more than ever. Mark E Smith was explaining to them that they would have to resort to petty crime to get started in music, otherwise the money side of things wouldn't work out. I felt this was a bit of a private conversation and, once more, I walked off.

I had one last option. I was friends with Big Flame's Dil and, thankfully, he said yes ... Thankfully? There were twenty-five of us in the club that cold Tuesday and it really wasn't the success I'd hoped for. I opened another two nights and then, before losing all my money, I took the decision I had to take. Sometimes, not everything is possible when you're 19.

A week later, I went to the Gay Traitor with a couple of friends. Apart from us, Karl Burns was there, of course, with New Order's Peter Hook. Hookie suggested tying us up there: the bar didn't open on Wednesdays, so we'd have spent two days down there. Ah, that sense of humour! But then, as Uncle Lou used to sing, anyone who ever played a part wouldn't turn around and hate it.