Régine, disco pioneer and queen of nightclubs, dies at 92

French singer and actress Régine, who claimed the invention of the modern nightclub and once ran a nightclub empire from Paris to Los Angeles, died on Sunday at the age of 92, her granddaughter told the AFP.

Regine, born Regina Zylberberg in Belgium to Polish-Jewish parents, opened her first club in the Latin Quarter of Paris in the 1950s, replacing the jukebox, ubiquitous in dance halls at the time, with turntables and disc jockeys.

The new format, she often said, vindicated her claim to “the invention of the disco”.

She told AFP in 2015: “If you can’t dance, you can’t have sex.”

New discos spread to the jet set and Regine, who became known as the “Queen of the Night”, opened several other venues around the world, including “Regine’s” in New York in the 1970s, and d others in Miami, Rio de Janeiro and Los Angeles.

“Régine left us peacefully at 11 a.m. (09:00 GMT) on May 1,” said her granddaughter Daphne Rotcajg.

‘Closure hour’-

In a statement sent on behalf of Régine’s family, her comedian friend Pierre Palmade said, “The queen of the night is gone. Closing time after a long and beautiful career.”

Régine “has made the stars of the whole world dance in her nightclubs”, he added.

At its height, Régine’s disco empire included 22 establishments, and some 20,000 people had an exclusive membership card in the 1980s that gave them access to all of them.

Pop artist Andy Warhol, showbiz star Liza Minelli, Rothschild bankers and the Kennedys were among his clients.

Jerry C. Greiner