So what about Berlin?
Well, something was going wrong in my life, physically, but I didn’t know what it was. I was struggling to cope, having blackouts driving cars. It was a difficult time in my relationship personally. Getting to gigs was getting increasingly difficult. I wanted to do something that was just Colin Curtis, just me. So I had this night at Berlins with a local lad called Hewan Clark warming up for me. Nice guy, big lad, well over 6’.
First DJ at the Hacienda, wasn’t he?
Yeah. Hewan Clark warmed up for me at Berlin. He collected records and there was a fabulous place, Yanks Records, originally Global Records where Richard Searling started off, run by an American guy called Ed Balbier. It was just a huge warehouse and Hewan had built up his collection here by paying a quid each for these records. He had great feeling and great taste. I used to get there and play from around 10-ish to 3, just three or four crates of records and me. Although it was only a small club, 200 people would pack the place, it was fantastic because it allowed me to let this audience loose on this idea.
What did it look like?
It was on a corner, you went in on the top floor and there was a pay desk then you went downstairs. The dancefloor was like something out of a Dennis Wheatley film. Basement, low roof. I used to play a track by the Valentine Brothers called Let Me Be Close To You, off the album that produced Money’s Too Tight. I remember Mick Hucknall used to ask for Money’s Too Tight and we’d picked up sealed copies of this album in Yanks so I was ready for him. He asked and I gave him a copy of the album. If it had been in London it would’ve been more talked about and probably got bigger.
Yeah, yeah. You had black guys, Rastas, famous people, such a mixture. Gilles’ friend Andrew was there religiously every week, Dean Johnson, Barry Malleedy and they’d bring their own mates. I got to meet this Brazilian guy who was at college in Manchester and sometimes these guys would just come in and jazz dance to me, or I’d play to them. Fantastic freestyle jazz dancing. That was about ’86 and it was a bout that time that I became seriously ill and I got taken out of the loop from about 86 – 89. I did come back at the Playpen in Manchester during that period, but I wasn’t functioning properly. I was playing all the early house stuff from Chicago.
Re: Tuesday Nights at the Berlin around 1985/6 (discussed above)
I can't remember the name of the night but I went week after week to hear the jazz/latin music and see the freestyle jazz dancing at the beginning of the night. After about 11.30pm the DJs switched to slow (unfunky) soul, not much of which I recognised and which was so boring it made me want to cry.
The jazz dance was eclectic and inspirational but the soul set was like wading through treacle by comparison; the DJs' refusal to play anything up-tempo after 11.30pm was so depressing that on a couple of occasions I just had to leave early! (and go home because there wasn't much else going on on Tuesday nights after midnight in city centre Manchester in 1986.)
The Jazz Defektors, Foot Patrol and others like Danny Henry and Trafford danced to the jazz at the start of the night. I don't remember anyone dancing 'at' Colin Curtis though...
The Ruthless Rap Assassins were also there regularly. They were really young (about 17) and they openly laughed at me dancing in my Doc Martens. They gave me and my friend a lift back to Whalley Range once in their car which had big holes in the floor - like the Ant Hill Mob from the Wacky Races!