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Club gets a new lease on life, retro style

SALLY KIDSON
Last updated 13:00 21/11/2012
Club STD
COLIN SMITH/Fairfax NZ
THEATRICAL COLOUR: Co-owner Gail Little in the entrance way of Club Paradox in Bridge Street that used to be the Phat Club.

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A new club featuring music and theatre is opening at the site of Nelson's defunct Phat Club.

Nelson woman Gail Little bought the Phat Club in June and hopes to open the new venue, Club Paradox, as soon as it gets a liquor licence.

Ms Little said she wanted to create a venue that was "not another sports bar". As part of that, theatre and school groups will be able to book the club during the week for theatre events.

She said she was downgrading the liquor licence to a tavern licence to enable all-ages events to be held there.

"I don't want just a nightclub. I want to be able to do theatre events where children are allowed to come with their parents."

Ms Little said live music would still be a large part of what the club was offering. She had already received inquiries from touring bands, due to a lack of similar venues in Nelson.

"We've already got people queuing up to play here."

The Phat Club was known for hosting a range of music genres, and the new club would continue that tradition, she said.

It will be is a family affair, with Ms Little's partner and their sons running the venue. Currently, their sons and friends run the Burger Bar, which is part of the Phat Club building.

Ms Little said there had already been gigs at the venue, and a band had filmed a music video there.

Nelson punk band Gripper had held a CD release party, and YouTube sensation, Christchurch-based Make Believe, had held an all-ages gig.

Ms Little said the Phat Club had a lot of history and memorabilia that was still in the venue, and a lot of that would stay. For example the green room behind the stage was covered in posters and graffiti.

Wigs and retro items in the entrance form a colourful welcome. Ms Little said the clothing and wigs were there for people to put on and have fun with.

Among the retro items she purchased were two vintage Santas from the old Farmers building in Auckland, and two mannequins from the 1950s, which their previous owner said had been to anti-nuclear protests.

"I'm trying to make it more theatrical - when we have theme nights, people can dress up. I'm collecting 70s clothing, wigs and mannequins."

Ms Little previously ran mathematics tutoring business Numberworks in Richmond and Nelson. She sold that and bought and did up its premises, before selling those buildings to help fund her purchase of the Phat Club building.

She said she saw the building on Trade Me and decided it would make the perfect next venture to embark on. "I love old buildings."

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Phat Club owners Dave White and Selena Coombes closed the venue in January 2011 after running into financial difficulties, after making losses on their Summer Six festival. The couple's annual four-night Phat New Year party near Inangahua had also left them in the red.

Fittingly, Club Paradox has a special licence to host a Phat Party reunion on the 10th anniversary of the Phat Club's opening, on December 15.

An all-ages Rockquest gig is planned for December 14.

- Nelson

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