DJ Paulette on The Hacienda, Manchester's LGBTQ community and what makes the city "s**t hot"

DJ Paulette is a real Manchester icon - with a career spanning across four decades.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Manchester is a city in many ways shaped by its iconic music scene. It's the birthplace of Oasis, Joy Division, New Order, The Smiths, The Stone Roses, Blossoms, and The 1975 as well as culturally significant industries and movements like Factory Records and The Hacienda. 

One of those Manchester music legends was DJ Paulette, whose career now spans four decades. The 57-year-old was one of only two women to hold a monthly spot in The Hacienda early in her career so is well placed to talk about the past, present and future of the music industry.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Inspired By Music, a panel event at Band on the Wall, saw the renowned DJ talk about her life and career. “Without music my life would’ve been so different,” she said. “Music has always been in my family – my mum was a singer, all my family are trained in music, I’ve been into the club scene since I was 14 years old and had a massive record collection. 

DJ Paulette is a legend of the Manchester music scene DJ Paulette is a legend of the Manchester music scene
DJ Paulette is a legend of the Manchester music scene

“Then by accident in 1991 I was asked to DJ a set in a club. It cost me almost £150 in records - but music made my life rich.”

She looks back fondly on her experiences of being a black and female artist making her way as a DJ, specifically her work at Hacienda’s ground-breaking Flesh nights in the early 90s. “Coming off the back of the AIDS crisis we thought how can we create something that’s safe for LGBTQ because it was not legal to talk about anything queer in the press,” Paulette said. 

“Afterwards, not only did they call it ‘Gaychester’, the north became a safe place. It was the most important marketing project because it was not safe to be gay anywhere else in the world. It was the beginning of gay pride in the city.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

With a nod to fellow panellist, Jemma Tanswell, director at Reform Radio - “I could not have got where I am without Reform Radio" - Paulette underlined one thing that makes the city of her birth stand out. 

“There is a special thing about Manchester where we help each other out really freely to share ideas and that’s what makes Manchester s**t hot.” she added, to cheers from those in attendance. 

The panel, chaired by BBC Radio One presenter Victoria Jane and organised by ticket provider Skiddle and music venue and independent artist booking website Gigpig, ended with Paulette dishing out some advice to the next generation of Manchester musicians. 

She said: “Do it because you want to do it, don't do it chasing a trend you will never know yourself.”

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.