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.