Belgian club entrepreneur and singer Régine has passed away at the age of 92.
Régine Zylberberg, the self-described “Queen of the Night,” credited herself as the inventor of the modern-day discothèque and opened the DJ format nightclub Le Whisky à Gogo in 1953. In an interview with the BBC, she explained that she began booking DJs to continuously play music all night because “when the music stopped, you could hear snogging in the corners. It killed the atmosphere.”
In order to accomplish this, she installed two turntables in place of a jukebox. She worked as an attendant, hostess, bartender, and door attendant at the club. “I was the first-ever disc jockey,” she told interviewers.
Her first club, Chez Régine, sprouted into a network of more than twenty clubs spanning the globe. One of her flagship clubs, New York’s Régine’s, opened in 1976. Andy Warhol and Joan Collins would regularly attend the club along with a roster of celebrities and socialites. Eventually, members of the public were allowed entrance under a strict door policy.
Many of Zylberberg’s clubs began to decline in the ’80s, partly due to the success of newer venues such as Studio 54. Numerous other clubs closed, though she maintained a few of them later in life while she performed in Paris.
Régine Zylberberg passed away on May 1st. The news was announced by her granddaughter, Daphne Rotcajg. Her cause of death is currently unknown.