(CelebrityAccess) — Rachelle Zylberberg, who is credited with launching the first discotheque and later went on to earn the appellation Queen of the Night with a chain of high end nightclubs in Europe and the U.S., has died. She was 92.
According to the New York Times, Instagram by her friend the French actor and comedian Pierre Palmade. He did not share a location or cause of death for his late friend.
Born in depression era Belgium, Zylberberg, adopting nom du guerre of Régine, opened her first nightclub, Chez Régine, in Paris in 1957. Music at the club was first provided by a jukebox but she later added two turntables to the mix to reduce downtime between songs.
“When the music stopped, you could hear snogging in the corners,” she told the BBC, using British slang for kissing and necking. “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.”
By the 1970s, she was ruling over a nightlife empire that included 23 clubs from Middle East to North America, where Régine’s in Manhattan was the most famous nightclub of its era.
However, amid changing tastes, including the rise of clubs such as Studio 54 and the arrival of the acid house scene in the late 1980s and early 1990s led to a decline in her business.
By the late 1990s, Régine oversaw just a handful of clubs in Paris, along with a club in Istanbul and a restaurant in Paris, the New York Times reported.
In 2015, she published “Mes Nuits, Mes Rencontres” (My Nights, My Encounters”), a collection of photographs and stories from her time as a club operator.
She was married briefly to Leon Rothcage and had a son with him before they divorced. She later married Roger Choukroun but they divorced in 2004. Her son died in 2006 and it is unclear if she has survivors.