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international news_4th August, 2005

Sasha's Grim Northern Exposure

Sasha's first clubbing experiences were characterised by inner city ultra-violence, he revealed this week, recalling his raving days at Manchester's Hacienda in the early 90s.

"There were always fights- not two lads scrapping but gangs picking on one person. I saw people walk in and flash their gun at the door," said Sasha, describing what happened when gangsters started partying at the club.

"(But) I grew up in Salford, one of the roughest areas, so I was used to it."

The superstar progressive DJ's recollections matched those of electro pioneer Greg Wilson who DJed at the club before acid house and watched the club's ecstasy honeymoon rapidly disintegrate.

"At one moment, everyone was all matey (friendly), all that 'nice one, you want one, come with us', everyone was everyone else's friend but it seemed like only months when I was back there again and there was a different attitude, with people snarling at people, sneering 'first timer' if somebody was doing their first E," Greg told Skrufff.

"You could see it going negative and this was where the gangsters moved in and took on the drugs trade and it all got seriously negative. Maybe it's one of those things where you had such a high, you needed a low afterwards."

However, acid house Hacienda resident DJ Graeme Parke suggested the club's gangster reputation was 'totally exaggerated', with the media over-hyping the violence at the club.

"The gangsters were always there in the club, but you'd only realise who they were only when there was an argument or a disagreement but it only became evident back in 1992, when we had to close the club down for three months, then we re-opened it and it was never that bad again," Graeme told Skrufff in a recent interview.

"Also, I was always in the DJ booth, 20 feet up in the air with the door locked, so I really didn't see much from up there."

He did, however, spot a then unknown Sasha pushing himself forwards to land a gig.

"Sasha used to come to the Hacienda as a punter before he started DJing there" said Graeme, "He used to tell us 'one day I'm going to be a DJ' and we used to think, 'Yes, you probably will because you're always here."

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