Régine, self-described Queen of the Night and inventor of the modern disco, has died. She was 92. Born Regina Zylberberg in Belgium, Régine is credited with inventing the disco and requisite disc jockey that reinvented nightlife for the stereophonic age. “When the music stopped, you could hear snogging in the corners,” she told the BBC, as reported in the New York Times. “It killed the atmosphere. Instead, I installed two turntables 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 discotheque, and I was the first-ever club disc jockey.” Régine spun that initial club, Chez Régine, into an empire of 20-plus clubs worldwide and a singing career. She opened her New York club, Régine’s, in 1976 on the ground floor of Delmonico’s. “Everyone said, ‘You’re crazy to open in New York; the whole place is going to go plop in the river,’” she said in 1999. “I am the one who saved this city from bankruptcy. I made it happy again.” Originally only letting in glitterati, Régine’s eventually admitted normies at a steep cover to hobnob with the likes of Andy Warhol, Brooke Shields, and Joan Collins. Mick Jagger was once turned away at the door for wearing sneakers.
Her clubs lost their glamour and edge in the ’80s, with competition from Studio 54 and a comparative lack of druggy atmosphere. “She wasn’t giving out Quaaludes to movie stars, she didn’t have bartenders with their shirts off,” Bob Collacello said in 1999. “She didn’t have what people wanted when the times changed.” She spent the last part of her life in Paris, managing a handful of clubs and continuing to perform.