Sunday, December 26, 2010

Happy Birthday Regine, Nightclub Queen of the World

Boxing Day is the 82nd birthday of Regine Zylberberg, the creator of the modern nightclub. Born in Belgium to Polish Jewish parents, Regine spent her early life hiding from the Nazis in France during the occupation.

In 1953 at the age of 24 she was managing the Paris Whisky aGo Go dance club when she seized upon the idea of exchanging the American jukeboxes common in nite spots with record turntables and hiring a disc jockey to spin new records. Thus, the modern discotheque was born

Soon a rival Whisky aGoGo opened in Los Angeles copying Regine's idea as it spread throughout the world.  Regine opened her own club in 1957-Chez Regine in the Latin Quarter of Paris which became the smartest nite spot in Paree. She imported twist king Chubby Checker to introduce his new dance to the Continent and taught the Duke of Windsor how to do the Twist.

At her peak Regine had 26 nightclubs around the world. The Social Shuttle attended the opening night of the London Regine's on top of the old Derry & Toms department store in Kensington High Street in the famous Rainbow Room which is surrounded by an extraordinary roof garden complete with  flamingos.

Opening night guests included actors Tony Curtis, Diana Dors and  Larry Hagman then at the height of fame in  the soap Dallas along with 2  guests smuggled in by the Shuttle-Boy George and the singer Marilyn (neither were famous then!).

When waiters pointed out the 2 gatecrashers and asked the hostess if she wanted them booted out she replied "Non non, ils ne sont beatiful !".

Marilyn later became a star guest at Regines when he arrived on the arm of Jack Nicholson.

Regine had a huge hit in France with Gloria Gaynor's 'I Will Survive'. It's the Shuttle's theme song for 2011 and below is a video of Regine's version.

Other celebrity birthdays today shared with Regine include Rattlesnake Annie, Ugly Dave Gray and Bashful Brother Oswald. Look them up.