Biographies & Memoirs

Queen of Clubs

By

This book will launch on Aug 20, 2020. Currently, only those with the link can see it. 🔒
Synopsis

A white-knuckled, true tale of a girl versus the Universe. Heady secrets of her self-made mini-empire of nightclubs, kaleidoscopic drug addiction and the quest for
Hollywood-fucking-amazing-love.

Queen of Clubs spans an electric thirteen-year period, set in the heart of East London, when the most sensible in the city are sleeping. Step into the secretive and dark world of clubland and the humorous journey from a carefree 24-hour party girl to an accidental nightclub entrepreneur. Smashing the glass ceiling in a male-dominated industry, creating subcultural waves - hurtling through the giddy, glittering highs of success - rapidly expanding to three award-winning nightclubs. 
 
Fighting through gritty ‘knee-grazing’ lows, down into the seedier depths of the night, a large scale theft ring, international fraud, drugs, police corruption. A David-and-Goliath legal battle with a billion-dollar corporation, a multi-millionaire property developer, and the ultimate deceit of the century. 
 
Intertwined with a roaring cocaine addiction and a once-in-a-lifetime love affair. 
 
What happens to a girl who builds her life around the night?...

Prologue

Bisphopsgate Churchyard - London

Winter 2011

I have a little laugh to myself; this is not the type of powder

that’s usually associated with nocturnal recreational activities.

Light feathery flakes of snowfall on the eerily quiet Bishopsgate

Churchyard and my majestic Victorian Bathhouse. Her ornate

stained glass onion dome roof and intricate swirling gingerbread

house brickwork glow like a beacon of light in the North Pole,

nestled in the stark, striking contrast between towering sleek

futuristic skyscrapers. The powdery snow gives the illusion of purity.

A Nordic Yuletide picture-perfect snow globe rather than a setting

for a debaucherous den of iniquity and scandalous all-night party.

Despite the unexpected snowfall (this is usually terrible for business)

we’ve sold out of New Year’s Eve tickets, plus the extra 20 per cent

we list on the top of our legal venue capacity to take into account

the no-shows and last-minute dropo uts. We were named the

‘hottest place in London to ring-in-the-New-Year’ according to Time

Out Magazine. Bad reviews plague nightclubs, but it’s the positive

ones that damaged us. Blowing open our secret world into the

mainstream media and sending our underground pleasure seekers

to the next unheard of playground. We were still as busy as last

years NYE party but with a very different type of customer now,

and more of the overflow has turned up than usual. It’s tight inside.

I can see on the clickers, we are over capacity by fifty-eight people,

not operationally dangerous but still illegal if I get caught in a spot

check. Which is why we run two sets of clickers, one to show the

police and local authorities, and one for us. Inside the atmosphere

is electric, a contagious thrill of anticipation to celebrate the New

Year, nobody seems worried that it’s a tight squeeze. Well, for the

moment…

20 minutes to countdown. The entry queue is still snaking

around the venue. Trickles of customers wobbly and sway from

pre-drinking try to score entry with a last-minute ticket on the door. I

send them to the pub next door for the countdown then add them to

the free entry guest list with a few drink tokens to come back later in

the night when the crowd thins out a little. I love that people come

and celebrate with us. It’s a weird feeling of awe, guests wanting to

spend their precious nights here, especially NYE. I don’t want them

to have a shit night waiting in the snow to get in. The fact they didn’t

arrange to buy tickets in advance, which is how most NYE parties

operate, can turn around negatively on us in an online review or

word of mouth, spiralling into “The place is shit. Their queue was

too long. Security were dicks and wouldn’t let us in.” I’d rather keep

customers happy. It’s better for business in the long run, and it’s

what gives us an unpretentious reputation. VIP guest list, excellent

hospitality, and a few drinks tickets go a long way in clubland.

Back inside, the glitter cannon and metallic gold balloon ceiling drop

are straining to explode over party revellers as the clock strikes

twelve. I look around the venue and pinch myself. This is actually

mine. It’s a good pinch, not a fuck, this is my problem pinch. It

switches often. The room shimmers and shines, opulent, magical,

and seeped in history. Low-hanging bronze chandeliers with flicker

candle light bulbs throw dancing shadows on the thick red velvet

draping. Disco balls’ project glittery mirrored dots over the pale

walls of handmade, fined-detailed macabre skeleton wallpaper,

Long white taper candles shoved into the spiky tops of pineapples

(I secretly think their life purpose is candle holding) The trend for

minimal warehouse nightclubs is booming, and this is the reason

why The Bathhouse is so intoxicating. It is the complete opposite,

sheer decadence without the pretension of a West End club. Nor

the wankers.

17 minutes to countdown. I slink and slide through the hot

clammy crowd, ducking and diving past people’s drinks and wild

dance moves to find the quickest route to check on the tills, reload

the change, make sure the bars are fully stocked. Glasses are

making their way back from the dishwasher ready to go another

round. This is one of those nights when we have a license to print

money. A delicate but well-oiled ecosystem of everyone doing their

jobs properly to keep the flow going, the booze selling, and cash

registers zinging.

I poke my head back upstairs to check on security and take a G&T to

our guest list legend, Sissy. I notice that Antonio, our very beautiful,

Latin lover Brazilian restaurant manager is now fully relaxed after

his shift and by fully relaxed I mean spangled on MDMA and kissing

an equally pretty boy in front of the venue. They look like a glossy

magazine ad for Jean Paul Gaultier perfume. He stumbles a little. I

discreetly flag security to keep an eye out for him. Mac, our venue

manager, is also watching him, so I move on.

13 minutes to countdown. I make my way back down into the

beating heart of the club, our DJ. In the towering 12-foot-high and

8-foot wide golden birdcage DJ booth, a thing of pure beauty. It

rises up in the middle of the dance floor, towering over the sea of

heaving sweaty bodies with its twisted, decorative wrought irons

bars. A large-scale version of what you would see hanging in the

window of the ‘Cherry Tree Lane’ mansion where Mary Poppins

nannies. We triple-check the microphone for the countdown. The

Dj is mixing a Franki Valli - Beggin’ Remix into the epic acapella

Simian Mobile Disco - We Are Your Friends; everyone is going wild

- faces spin, laughing, dancing, flashing in front of me as I move

quickly through the dance floor. I head down the spiral stairs, each

step is ancient, crumbly cream marble and the walls are covered in

original ornate 18th-century tiles, handmade and slightly different

with inconsistencies and imperfections, making them perfect to me.

Muted reds and midnight blues in dreamy geometric patterns. They

are cool to touch as I run my fingers along the walls leading down

to my office. I’m surprised there isn’t a greasy trail of my fingerprints

up and down the tile work. It has become a superstitious habit

moving through the stairwells, always connected by my fingertips.

A moment from the madness. The office vibrates godlike Bowie’s

anthem - Let’s Dance. It’s hot and stuffy in the basement. No

windows or fresh air, CCTV monitors line the walls creating more

unbearable heat into the small room. I rack up a few lines of coke

from the large pile, quickly snort one, leave the rest, then head

upstairs to oversee the midnight madness.

9 minutes to countdown. Lively from my-pick-me-up, I quickly

head back to the door to sneak in a cigarette before the count

down. There’s an odd atmosphere between the guys on security. It

feels serious, and their tempers seem a little short tonight. But then

the cold really affects them, standing for eight hours in all sorts of

weather, often working a double shift. Most of the security team

have day jobs, and we tend to feel the burn of their double shift day.

Antonio is having an up-close, animated conversation with Mac,

the venue manager.

Mac is a little off today as well, frayed. I clocked he didn’t meet

my gaze earlier, quickly looking away. New Year’s Eves are weird.

People are weird. There’s heightened tension and expectation

with staff as well as customers. Like it’s a magical night meant to

change everything and determines the year ahead. For me, it’s just

another of the regular 365 days in clubland that roll around. NYE

lost its sparkle many years ago in Mexico for me.

7 minutes to countdown. Coat check calls out over the radio that

they need more raffle tickets. I nip in to sort it out, any excuse to

talk shit and stand in front of the heater a few minutes. Not the

warmest outfit for this Baltic weather, I’m wearing a skin-tighthigh-

waisted, knee-length leather pencil skirt. Tucked into it is a

ruffled black and gold sheer bullfighter kind of shirt-blouse-thing,

with a thick vintage Versace elastic waist belt with two large golden

leopards, with emerald jewel eyes, bowing down to each other.

Opaque black tights and lace-up pointy, shiny patent stiletto heels,

’50’s pin-tucked hair, soft curls, and iconic Mac Ruby Woo lips as

per usual. My phone is slipped in between my bra strap and boob,

and the five-channel radio with earpiece is clipped to my skirt. I

keep a white cropped vintage bolero rabbit fur and black leather

gloves with leather oversized bows where the wrist meets the hand

stashed by the front door to grab for when I head outside.

3 minutes to countdown. Looking out the frosty coat check

window to the security, a quick, jerky movement catches my

eye at the entrance. Something’s kicking off. I race outside. It’s

Antonio, Mac, and... three other guys I don’t know? … For fuck

sake, they’re customers! Mac throws a punch and floors one of

the guys. Antonio is scrapping on the ground with another, I run

over and pull Antonio off him before it gets worse. Mac’s dragging

him back into a headlock. Spinning around with a huge shock, a

dull shove to the middle of my back, knocking the wind out of me

…it’s a female customer. She’s screaming at Mac, trying to climb

over me to get him off her boyfriend. I hold her back, and she starts

walking backwards up the churchyard, screaming at Nathan the

head of security, “You fucking pussy cunt, you piece of shit cunt!”

It’s escalating quickly, his face goes from white to grey and his eyes

lock on her like a great white shark, fiery and beady, not blinking,

not looking away. He runs towards her...wait, what the fuck is he

doing!?! He throws his arm back, then smashes her with a closed

fist, not holding back as he punches her right in the middle of her

face. Everything is in slow motion. The impact makes her face

fly to the side. Blood sprays across the snow in the churchyard,

and she goes flying through the cold night air. I can’t believe this

is happening. My security team is turning on our customers. I

scramble, slipping on the ice to get over to her. Dragging her out

of his way, then crawling to the side of the scrum, I fumble down

my top, grab my phone and call the police. Now, this is the LAST

thing you ever want to do as a club owner. You try to keep the

police as far away as you possibly can. This is totally out of my

control. The police are stationed one block around the corner on

Liverpool Street. And there are roaming armed response unit as

well - we’re positioned within the City of London Square mile which

has its own independent police force. I make the call directly to

the Liverpool Street precinct for help. She’s bleeding everywhere

and still screaming at Nathan, spitting out blood and bits of broken

teeth. She gets back on her feet, wobbling. He’s squaring up to

her again. My body spiked with pure adrenalin, I wedge myself in

between both of them. He’s pulling at me to get me out-of-the-way.

I refuse to budge. He’ll have to start attacking me before he gets to

her. I scream an inch from his face… ‘BACK THE FUCK OFF!’…

He is raging, totally out of control.

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 MIDNIGHT - HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! A dull rhythmic

thump in the distance. Thump-thump-thump-thump-thump. In

storm City of London police in full riot gear, masks, shields, and

submachine guns. Casual. They file methodically into the top of the

churchyard and march towards us in an impenetrable formation,

sirens whirring, red flashing lights staining the snow, like blood, and

the screeching of an ambulance to let us know it’s not far behind.

They plough through the snow and in a split second, grab everyone

in the immediate vicinity and pull this bullshit mess apart. This is my

mess, my security, my managers. Panic flashed through my mind,

FUCK. The police can’t go into the club. We’re in full flight of an

overcapacity party down there. Double FUCK. The office! What if

they want to review the CCTV of the fight right now? With a pile of

coke on the bench staring up at them?

Mac, Antonio, Nathan, and the three customers they were fighting

are arrested and taken to the police station. Our female customer

is taken to the hospital. The police leave as quickly as they arrived.

Small mercies, they left without entering the venue, but my shortlived

career is unarguably over. That was some seriously bad

management all round.

22 minutes past midnight. I walk back down into the club, shellshocked,

my heart still racing as I step over the gold foil confetti

debris from the exploded glitter cannon. Empty party popper

cases, customers dancing on tables, golden balloons bouncing

through the crowd, and bar staff working at a maniacal pace to

push out the post-midnight madness drink orders. It’s as though

the Armageddon-level shit storm above never happened; they

were protected in the bomb-proof party bunker, oblivious to the

pandemonium and anarchy outside…

25 minutes past midnight. I lock myself in the office to polish off

the two pre-racked up lines and put my head on the desk to rest.

What the fuck am I doing with my life? Break (down) over. Back

to running the club. I’m now short three staff members. Well, two

apparently on-duty capable’ members. I place calls to get Nathan’s

security position filled ASAP, make a mental note to go look for one

of my precious leopard emerald eyes that pinged out in the fight.

28 minutes past midnight. Back on the floor, tits ‘n teeth out, a fake

smile plastered on to deliver the ‘night of the year’ for our customers

and record-breaking bar takings for our accountant. First stop. The

bar, to get the staff a round of Jagerbombs. They deserve it.

So do I.

Just a regular hour at work. Well not, even an hour. 48 minutes. I

wonder what the next few hours are going to bring?...




NB: My staff were all charged with aggravated assault while the

three male customers charged with drunk and disorderly behaviour.

The female customer received 20 stitches, had a broken nose, and

needed reconstructive dental work, but didn’t press charges for

grievous bodily harm against Nathan. Which was really strange.

She stopped talking to the police after she sobered up the next

day. After reviewing the CCTV footage a few days later, the

police were satisfied with how I managed the situation, and they

decided to charge the staff as individuals rather than prosecute

the venue or take our license to a review hearing. We fired the

three staff members involved for gross misconduct. Turns out

married, heterosexual Mac had been secretly drinking on the

job that night, he was deeply and also secretly in love with our

Antonio. He snapped, couldn’t stand seeing Antonio kiss random

pretty boys while wasted on MDMA. So he lashed out at the pretty

stranger and his friends. Gross misconduct. Antonio jumping in,

escalating the fight. Gross misconduct. Nathan, our shark security,

was apparently sleep-deprived. His girlfriend had left him, and

he was hopped up on ‘legal’ performance-enhancing steroids in

preparation for an amateur MMA fight, making him lose his shit on

our lady customer. So, so much gross misconduct. It’s EastEnders

drama featuring The Bathhouse security and upper management.

Oh and I’d love to tell you that I learnt my lesson cutting it fine with

the police coming into the office with the coke left out, but I just

found a more discreet place to do it…

About the author

Officially: I’m an internationally recognised Creative Director specialising in culture and ideation. Creating experiential events, immersive festivals and curating art activations. Unofficially: I’m a dyslexic storyteller. Who magically isn’t dyslexic when writing creative words.   view profile

Published on September 03, 2020

130000 words

Contains explicit content ⚠️

Worked with a Reedsy professional 🏆

Genre: Biographies & Memoirs

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