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Ladies night

[Dream target date - 80's]

Zhivagos nightclub was named after the 1967 romantic epic 'Dr Zhivago' and retained the tacky hi-gloss of the 70's discotheque well into the mid 1980's. It was located in the basement of the Victoria Centre and was very much in the classic 'Saturday Night Fever' vein. John Travolta would not have looked out of place in this establishment.


Zhivago shots

Zhivagos was favoured by smartly dressed girls as the venue's strict door policy excluded male groups, underage drinkers, drunkards and the great unwashed. If you were a young male, it was virtually impossible to enter the club after 11.00pm if you didn't wear a tie. Paralytic youths could sometimes be seen just around the corner from the club, fumbling with yard-long lengths of rags in an attempt to create the illusion of actually wearing one.

Dress code was sometimes relaxed at the bouncers discretion, and for a brief period Riff and I were admitted in our new romantic attire, probably because we looked so effeminate (and non-threatening) but also because we drank Black Witch in huge quantities. (1pint cider, 1 measure pernod, blackcurrant cordial).

On the dancefloor, Michael Jackson and Kool and the Gang were the order of the day, with some concessions to mainstream futurist and new wave groups in the form of The Police, Soft Cell and The Thompson Twins. It was pretty much one step up from a school disco.

Private parties, dancing competitions, ladies nights and beauty parades were standard fayre at Zhivagos. Photographs of events like 'Miss Nottingham' appeared regularly in the Nottingham Evening Post and were usually hosted by Radio Trent DJs or minor celebrity. Attending these events went against the feminist teachings of our respective college courses, but they were so delightfully tacky that we couldn't resist.

In addition to its range of exotic cocktails, the nightclub had its own fast food bar, offering a simple yet expensive menu of chips and chicken-bites. My last memory of the club is that of sitting on the stairs, tucking into a salty, ketchup-laden tray of chips, dressed in my best Don Johnson suit with canvas shoes and a crimson ponytail. 'Miami Vice' was top of the TV ratings in 1985, so I must have looked pretty cool back then.

Zhivagos site today

Today the Zhivago's site is occupied by Vision Express, a company who specialise in supplying spectacles and contact lenses to once youthful disco dancers. If you are one of these people, please send stories and photographs of Nottingham nightlife in the 80's to info@dreamtargets.com


Copyright - Paul Fillingham
Last update - 15 September, 2001