The Part Two story

On April 7th 2009, Ross Smith (shown on the right), the Manager of - and inspiration behind - Part Two club, gave a talk to packed house at Breakout Gay Men's Group.

 

An audio recording was made of his talk and Ross also provided us with a copy of his presentation.

As a teenager, Ross Smith enjoyed going to La Chic Club (1973-7) on Canal Street. It helped to make Nottingham the chosen destination for gay men in the Midlands who wanted a good night out.  When it closed, Nottingham began to suffer in comparison with Birmingham and Leicester - though not, of course, Derby.

 

In 1980 Ross decided that he wanted to open a gay club in Nottingham which would compare well with the best in the country.  He became aware that the Boots company had blundered in their task of providing a social venue for their workers - the blunder was that they had bought two buildings.   Boots put one of those buildings up for rent at £9500 for each of the 4 floors.  This was the former home of La Chic on Canal Street.   "I'll take it", he said. At the time he had £1200 in the bank.

 

The plan was to use the 2 lower floors for the club and to rent out the upper floors.  He got backing from Billie Pearson and Patrick Mooney, 2 local business people, and from John Smith's Brewery which agreed to match the other funding.  With the extensive and high quality renovations which were planned, a lot more money was still needed, but with the aid of a friendly accountant's introduction to an obliging bank, the money was made available.

 

Boots then changed their mind. They decided not to rent, but to put the property up for sale at £235,000.  "I'll take it", he said and amazingly his backers went along with it.

 

The next problem lay with the Nottingham magistrates who didn't want to approve any more clubs in the City.  The strategy to counter this involved:  making the club a "members only" club; obtaining a petition with hundreds of signatures; invoking divine intervention - the Rev. Bob McCulloch agreed to speak of the need for such a club at the hearing.

 

When the hearing took place it was obvious that the magistrates were thoroughly embarassed by the process and went on circuitous verbal deviations to avoid using the words "gay" or "homosexual".  They were also concerned about how the management of the club would be able to verify that its clientele was genuinely gay or lesbian  ..... eventually answering their own question with "it takes one to know one?"

 

The licence was granted. Part Two opened on July 3rd 1981. 875 people came along. The club had a licence for 535.

ross

 

During its 4 year life, Part Two had many famous guests - some were there as performers and some simply came along to have a good night out.   Many of the casts from shows at the Playhouse and Theatre Royal trouped down en masse after their shows had finished.   See below.

part2guests1 part2guests2

 

The outrageous Divine, star of several John Waters films, performed his/her act while seated on a toilet.  In real life he was a very quiet and sedate man.

 

Two people with a sad history were occasional guests.  John Curry - Olympic skating gold medallist of 1976 - turned up while performing at the playhouse. He later died of AIDS - according to one newspaper report died in the arms of Alan Bates, with whom he had an affair.

 

When Brian Clough bullied Justin Fashanu about his visit to "that bloody poofs club", the bigotted football manager was of course refering to Part Two.

 

Eartha Kitt arrived             at Nottingham Station (extremely drunk) dragging a mink coat across the platform. She insisted on being driven around Nottingham in a Rolls Royce.

 

Imelda Staunton (now famous for "Vera Drake" and her performance in the Harry Potter films) was appearing in "Mack and Mabel" at the Playhouse.

 

The Mack and Mabel tunes helped Torvill and Dean win one of their several World Championship skating gold medals. The composer of those tunes was the writer of Hello Dolly, Jerry Herman who also made an appearance while his musical was being played in Nottingham.

Ross mentioned several memorable nights:

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  • The mud wrestling event which took place in cooperation with HIM magazine. The wrestling models were auditioned (no inverted commas here) by Ross himself.

  • One Halloween, the club was raided by the Police  (uniforms, but no truncheons) - the raid passed off without incident.

  • 42 loo seats were stolen - all from the Ladies loos. Apparently, they were passed through the toilet windows and treasured as souvenirs.

  • One Easter there was a "Hot Cross Buns" competition. A large screen with several strategically placed holes was set up. The contestants - hidden on the far side of the screen - pulled their pants down and had their assets graded as they poked through the screen.

  • Other famous guests included the cast of Coronation Street and Cynthia Payne - Madame Sin.

  • There was a seating area on the roof of the building where, from time to time, Ross Smith would invite a guest for a "roof top soiree" - inverted commas needed here.

Martyn Wood, Part Two's DJ - now living in Spain - has his own website at http://www.costadeldisco.com with some pictures and references to Part Two in the gallery section.

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