We made a visit to Preston and Tokyo Joe`s in the late 90s.
It was a Saturday night, and the Church Street area was packed with people in their late teens and early 20s. The streets were littered with tickets. Some offering £1.00 off admission for Tokyo`s, with others offering the same deal for Arrabella`s nightclub and show bar plus 10 weeks of discounted drinks promotions.
There was a heavy police presence; with a large van, two cars and a dog van, all parked opposite Tokyo`s.
A steady stream of coaches, mini-coaches and taxis delivered masses of customers to the club.
Security staff turned away lots of males wearing ear rings and bright green or orange shirts, also those with very short hair. After being refused they stood outside in groups, increasing the confusion, making it difficult for others to enter the premises, and adding to the loud, bawdy, and base atmosphere.
A young man staggered by and crashed into Wilkinson`s shop window, stunning himself, before lurching into the middle of the road, where he fell over and stopped the traffic. When a motorist went to help him, he wanted to fight. Much to the delight of immature excitement seekers.
We first visited Yates`s, where the door staff were friendly, and the room dingy. They had attempted to create a club atmosphere, but in terms of attendance had failed.
The Original Square/Wall Street was very busy, with a permanent queue of 50 people waiting for entry. Again, the door supervision was good, but here the atmosphere was exciting, with some of the clientele much older than those in Yates`s. The centre piece to the room was a huge video cube mounted in the ceiling, creating a four sided video disco, although no one seemed much interested in it.
The Old Bull was special; with a well dressed clientele in the 25 to 40 age range. Low music, the sound of conversation and pleasant staff. Lovely.
We had visited Arrabella`s on a previous occasion, and had felt quite uncomfortable. Maybe it was the disposition of the older customers. Whatever. We had no intentions of visiting again.
We began to enter Tokyo`s around 10 o`clock. But what a confusion.
Pre-booked parties became engulfed within the coach parties. Paying customers became confused with those being refused entry. All of which seemed to be unnoticed by door staff.
The only way to get into the foyer was by pushing our way in. Once inside the mood was transformed by the friendly box office staff, pleasing aesthetics of pink and blue neon and red and black décor of the bar. Admission was £4 before 10pm, £5 before 11pm, and £6 after.
It was now time to enter the reception area, so we were herded into an area just passed the bar.
And the mood changed again. We were now subjected to a DJ and his partner whipping up the less mature and more inebriated customers into a frenzy, as more and more people pushed into the area.
Then it was now time for audience participation!!
And what better than a fake orgasm competition for the unfortunate brides to be. And there was no escape. Off the DJ scampered into the ladies toilet to retrieve one unfortunate victim, while another suffered the ignominy of being given a microphone, and the DJ standing behind her and in a hgh voice shouting “Push it up me….Harder……Harder”.
And even more people crushed into the restricted area.
Next came the predicable Party music, headed up by YMCA. Drinks sprayed the crowd as enthusiastic males danced like there was no tomorrow. Some of the girls looked terrified, and a short fight broke out amongst a small group of males, who could not swing a decent punch due to the overcrowding.
And even more people crushed into the overcrowded area.
Around 10.30pm the DJ played his “piece de resistance”.
Chumbawumba – “I get knocked down”, where the previous audience participation to YMCA paled into insignificance, as blurrey eyed males raised one fist in the air and tried to run backwards and forwards chanting….. you got it …….. “I get knocked down”.
Then we were allowed into the main room higher level.
Then a little later into the main room, where the atmosphere grew and and grew as the room filled with a sea of dancers. Door supervisors stood on boxes so as to see over the crowd.
The DJ told the girls to dance their tits off (not sure if any of them did) – but they certainly tried.
We had a “Regional Manager alert” when Peter Bowden appeared in the DJ consul, followed by announcements to advertise the Back Beat Beatles on the coming Monday, and a free bar at 9pm on the Tuesday plus a visit from Fred Elliot from Coronation Street.
The DJ later he asked for a “Big Fuck Off Welcome” for a dancer from the Hit Man and Her show.
A couple attempted to make love in one of the darker seating area, but were prevented by a stocky lady selling roses. Don`t think the door staff were too pleased about that.
Food sales were brisk in the Japanese themed dining area. Probably to do with the “£1.00 Off Vouchers” lying around. Clearly this helped with the licensing requirement of the time (sales of alcohol ancillary to food), and even more attractive by menu prices prices ranging from £2.10 for cheese or chicken burgers and pizzas at £1.60.
Those were the days!
The only noticeable management was a tall, slim, dark haired lady lady of around 25 years old, and a shortish bespectacled man wearing a bright waistcoat and a bow tie.
Wonder where they are now?
We left around 1.30am, passing a poster in reception reminding us that Preston could be a dangerous place at night. Probably not though considering the number of police on duty in the Church Street area.
So what did we think of Tokyo`s?
Well, we liked it for what it was. Somewhere for young working people to enjoy their Saturday night out. The club gave them what they expected, and they were prepared to travel in coaches and mini-buses to get there. A good solid business – giving the customers what they wanted. How they wanted it. In the style they wanted.
And they would be back week after week to help with –
At least a good solid £20.000 in the tills for the night`s work.
Bring it on!
Image from ha.ax