So next week, I leave The Sugar Club to set up shop with Conor & Marc Bereen on South William Street. Back in March 1999, myself and Nicky Toppin took on an auld disused cinema and by that August, we were trading. He looked after the legals and the landlord while I got on with everything else. We are both extremely proud of what we achieved together. On an altogether, highly uninspiring part of town that was known as the “Leeson Street Strip” , we built and operated an Arts centre that was funded 100% by a very successful night trade. When punters had enough money to enjoy a quality late night weekend offering, we rocked it out for them and it meant that we could run great shows in the evening at a relatively low cost for the promoters and artists. I always felt that this was a good business model for theatres and constantly wondered why more of them didn’t do the same. It was only when I started snooping around looking for grants that I realized why the theatres weren’t motivated to run club nights in their own spaces. They have been and will always continue to be, overly funded by The Arts Council. And the way they distribute their funds is shockingly unfair. Non theatrical venues and festivals deserve a lot more state funding and the main theatres need to get up off their holes and find more corporate sponsorship and more revenue streams. Been waiting a while to say that. Now seems like a good a time as any to express it.
But anyhoop, a lot of people have been asking me will I miss working in the club and the quick answer is, no. The reason for that is, I’ll be way too bloody busy to even remember where I’ve just spent the last decade or so. We’re trying to open up a Diner in a place that used to be a boozer, there’s a fucking shitload of work to get done and I’m chomping at the bit to get cracking and start trading. In terms of what we’ll be doing foodwise, it will be our own take on the Diner, but with lots of booze. Especially cocktails and a geansai load of my infusions like the Superspiced range. Stay tuned for an offensive amount of updates and media whoring!
When I think about my time on Leeson St, the schlebs that partied in the club and all the famous folk that have played there, don’t really come into my thoughts. My brain always manages to find the absurd, disgusting, bizarre and random moments. And there are so many, I could actually fill two daycent posts on them. So to get the ball rolling…
- When we first opened the club, the very thought of trying to do a MEGA-LAUNCH party just gave me the fear. So we opted just to open and see what would happen. On the first night we traded, we just had some friends round and put on a sweet jazz band on, fronted by the late Herbie Dade. He was his usual charming self. Gravelly voiced but smoothly dressed. He took a break after the first set and asked me where he could get changed. I directed him to the disabled toilet. Fifteen minutes later he emerged from the jacks wearing a sparkling purple gown with golden earrings and a blonde wig. I was somewhat shocked but felt the need to compliment the lovely lady on her attire.
“Looking good there Blondie!”, says I.
“You too sweetheart. My name’s Samantha and I wanna suck your cock down in the handicapped bathroom, ” says he.
“Sorry Samantha but I don’t do blondes with dicks,” says I.
Despite this somewhat unusual introduction to each other, Herbie and I became good friends. When he got ill, we staged a fundraiser for him to do what we could. He was a gas character and brought a great slice of America here with him. Deadly bloke.
- On a dull Tuesday evening, I hooked up Republic of Loose with a somewhat lame but highly paid corporate gig. They were at the height of their fame and their legendary partying. I was kept busy walking round the venue babysitting the client and micromanaging all their fiddly requests. The MD of the company remarked that there was a strong smell of “hashish” coming from the disabled toilet. I went down to investigate. Sure enough the band were there, all 8 of them actually. A massive cloud of smoke came billowing out as soon as I opened the door. I looked in and saw at least one pipe going round. The bass player Saul, clocks me. He does his best Obi Wan Kenobi and slowly moves the fingers of his right hand in front of my face and says,
“These aren’t the droids you’re looking for. ” Fucking genius.
- Twas a mad, typically hectic Christmas season Friday night. We were breaking a new duty manager in. He was a cool Scottish fella called Martin. The Camembert Quartet were due to be on stage. I was up to me hoop so I delegated the task of getting the band on stage, to Martin. This was usually something I did as it always required a lot of work and diplomacy. One band member could be at the bar, while another would always be out the back chatting up a female. Either way, you’d have to break up a conversation somewhere and drag them down into the disabled toilet to get changed and hit the stage.
But on this one night, two of the lads in the band wanted to play a gag on me. Just at stage time when the knock came on the door for the lads to get a move on, one of them knelt down and rubbed a load of creamy soap all over his own face whilst the other lad unzipped his fly and took his mickey out. Martin walks in and sees one guy on his knees with a white goo all over his face and the other guy with his cock in his hand. He screams like a red headed stepchild, bolts up to the office looking totally shell shocked. It’s a testimony to the band’s sheer professionalism that they still managed to put on a wicked gig. Because every time they saw me and my esteemed colleague Martin, we’d all laugh our hoops off.
Like I said, I’ve got loads of these tales but there’s work to do. More Leeson Street filth and depravity next week before I bid this part of town, adieu.