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Régine, discothèque pioneer and singer, dies, aged 92

The self-described Queen of the Night once maintained a club empire of more than 20 venues worldwide

Régine, discothèque pioneer and singer, dies, aged 92

Belgian club pioneer and singer Régine has died at the age of 92.

Once describing herself as the Queen of the Night, Régine Zylberberg came to prominence as a club entrepreneur and  credited herself with inventing the modern discothèque and DJ format in Paris club Le Whisky à Gogo in 1953. 

"When the music stopped, you could hear snogging in the corners. It killed the atmosphere,” she once told the BBC of how her clubs came to book DJs to continuously play music. "Instead, I installed two turntables [to replace the jukebox] so there was no gap in the music. I was barmaid, doorman, bathroom attendant, hostess, and I also put on the records. It was the first-ever discothèque, and I was the first-ever club disc jockey."

Zylberberg's first club, Chez Régine, grew into an empire of venues which spanned more than 20 clubs worldwide. One of her key venues, New York's Régine's, opened in 1976, and became a regular haunt of the likes of Joan Collins and Andy Warhol. It was originally only open to celebrities and socialites, but ultimately grew to take in members of the public while maintaining a strict door policy.

A singing career followed the opening of her clubs, but many of the venues lost favour as the 1980s came. In New York, people turned to venues such as Studio 54, with its edgier atmosphere, and Régine's ultimately closed in 1991.

Many other clubs closed in the years that followed, but Zylberberg maintained a small number of them in the later stages of her life during which she lived in Paris and continued to perform.

Zylberberg passed away on 1st May, with her death being confirmed by her granddaughter Daphne Rotcajg. No further details on the cause of death were revealed.