The Pink Coconut Derby opened during December 1983, although it could be said that Romeos and Juliets never really closed.
When the company directors set a profit target for Romeos and Juliets, they also promised a £230.000 budget for a complete refurbishment of the Colyear Street nightclub. In nightclub terms the budget was small, but luckily the company culture of the time was to ensure that everyone involved with decision making had a clear view of the facts.
Without doubt the sound systems had to be renewed to allow greater control of the volume throughout the rooms. The dance floors needed enlarging. And the toilets – oh dear – the toilets. How anyone coped with the tiny facility for such high attendances in Romeo and Juliets days is unimaginable, and probably best not asked.
On the positive side a near perfect team of entertainers, staff and support was already in place. There was also a capacity attendance of loyal customers, despite worn out carpets, wall coverings etc. To close the premises was unthinkable, where could the customers go to? And what if they found somewhere else and enjoyed it so much, they refused to return? No – the building could not close; and so the rolling refit began.
Romeos, the larger of the rooms was closed immediately. The room was stripped bare and major works began. Screens were built to cordon off the the work area, but some bare lighting was left on to show the customers how their club was progressing. Juliets was to become the Palm Grove, with the work undertaken from Sunday to opening time on the Thursday. The club only traded Thursday to Saturday.
Management were amazed at the enthusiasm of the staff and customers, who often helped to sweep, dust, move building materials and generally tidy up. Later in the evening staff were often handed hammers, drills and other tools they had found in the club.
Group Northern, the design and build company may have an alternative view, but to the staff the refurbishment went like clockwork. Customers were amazed as shining chrome palm trees, illuminated planters, and neon covered bar ceilings reflected the symmetrical chrome features, glistened and reflected as the room came to life.
Whilst we now refer to the club as the Pink Coconut, it never had a working title because there was no budget for sign-age, letterheads etc. Luckily the Pink Coconut Brighton played a huge part in moving things forward.
On Tuesday the 13th and Wednesday 14th of December, the club opened to invited guests for trial runs. Then with all cylinders firing on the Wednesday for the VIP night.
It seems odd that one of the comments about the VIP night highlighted the number of millionaires in the venue, but this was well matched by the regular customers who felt they had been treated like millionaires. Because one thing was for sure –
Everyone was a VIP.
The image below gives a reminder of the simple but effective moving lighting feature, that filled the back of the stage, and illuminated the room.
Wonder if the guy in the striped shirt knows that he is mirroring the wallpaper, upholstery and carpet colour. He would have taken some finding if he had fallen asleep.
Tony Walker, Marie Burton and the management team worked hard, alongside Molly, Tracey and the remainder of the bar girls in their Lycra body stockings, Ida and the team in the cloakroom, Brenda on the buffet, Greg, Dave and co on the door, and the inimitable Bill in the gents toilets.
All in all a tremendous team, and a far reaching memory not only for former Derby club goers, but also those from around the country who visited the amazing Pink Coconut.