AS Groucho’s it was among the city’s key nightspots during the 80s, as popular as Ritzy’s and the Black Orchid. But the club, housed in the basement of what was then the Royal Hotel, closed 15 years ago and has lay empty ever since. Tonight it reopens under new management, with a new name and with a different concept.
Red Bar & Lounge will also have a new entrance, directly opposite Rock City.
“It’s a late bar open seven nights,” says Johnny Moore, a former DJ who played all over the city, including at Groucho’s.
“I remember how packed it used to be. It was a very popular place. This was when pubs closed at 11pm and people went on to a nightclub.”
After his DJ days, which started at city clubs such as the Babel Club, Zhivago’s and the Aviary at Trent Bridge (now the Riverbank), he became a nightclub promoter, booking a fledgling boy band called Take That at the Black Orchid.
“This was when Robbie Williams asked me to be his manager and because I’d lost money on that gig I said no.”
After running Cabaret for two-and-a-half years in Fletcher Gate (now Ascucha), he moved over to the Royal in Derby. It’s been five years since he operated a venue in his home city.
“It’s free to get in,” continues the 46-year-old, who spent six weeks refurbishing Red. “There are a few nice cheeky seated areas. There’s a dance floor. And there’s a small stage for acoustic performances.”
The 200-capacity bar has been swathed in deep red and black. The staircase off Talbot Street leads down to the main floor, with the DJ booth to the right and the bar ahead. Leather sofas and stools occupy four raised seating areas, with gold leaf framed mirrors and palm plants.
There’s a secret staircase for VIPs to access the club through the hotel, via the Red Door (it isn’t red).
“There are quite a few late bars in Nottingham but there’s nothing like this on this side of the city. It has some very interesting nooks and crannies that I think will make it popular.”
Cabaret hosted regular drag shows, live comedy (it was home to Just The Tonic), music and An Audience With... events. Guests were varied, from Stuart Pearce to Jim Bowen and the late Frank Carson to Derek Acorah and the weekly Slinky Minky Show.
“When I sold Cabaret in 2007, I looked at a few promotion concepts. I put on the Roller Disco at the Capital FM Arena last summer, which was a huge success. And I put on An Audience With people like Frank Bruno, Stuart Pearce, Ricky Tomlinson and darts legends Eric Bristow, John Lowe and Bobby George.
It was a continuation of the Cabaret concept, which he also took to a venue in Milton Keynes. He then took over The Royal in Derby, a live music venue and club that was the city’s equivalent to the Rescue Rooms. Artists included The Maccabees, Calvin Harris, Chase & Status and Pendulum.
Red Bar & Lounge is much simpler idea.
“On a Monday and Tuesday it’ll be background music, there’ll be a laid-back lounge feel to it. Wednesdays will be a mix of 80s and 90s, Ministry of Sound club anthems and electronic pop classics. Thursday will be for students, dance classics and two-for-one cocktails. We’ll have the same offer on every night from 7pm to 9pm but it will be all night on Thursday.
“Friday and Saturday are Get Red-y, with DJs, table service and lots of dancing. On Sunday it’ll be Red Live, with an acoustic act called Adam Peter Smith. We’ll dim the lights and put candles out. It’s all about lounging and dancing.”
Red Bar & Lounge in Talbot Street opens tonight at 7pm. It’ll be open seven nights, 7pm to 2am. Admission is free. For more information go towww.redbarandlounge.co.uk