The report BELOW is dated September 16, 2007….. for news about the STICKY FUNGUS closure click on the link ABOVE
So Cheekees, formerly The Exchange and, more recently ‘Diamonds and Denims’ has shut for good…
Were they good memories? Was it a good club? How will ‘The Exchange’ be replaced?
I first got a very vague interest in “The Exchange” as it was then, when I heard that Quentin Tarantino had gone there one night in the 1990’s ( probably about 1994). Tarantino… in my town? In a club in my town? Wow!
But, like many, many townsfolk, I never quite made it actually into the club. Sorry.
Maybe it was the 1960 telephone exchange architecture that was to blame. Or the fact that you have two ways of getting to the front door- i.e. the ‘salubrious way’ across the rear of the rubbish-strewn Argos delivery yard and past the masonic hall or the ‘iffy way’ down a vomit-ridden dark and depressing alleyway near W H Smiths.
In fact I am convinced that a huge percentage of Staines-folk – if asked- would not even know that a nightclub has existed on this site. Let alone would have visited the place.
The Exchange has, in it’s time, been called “The crowning turd of Central Staines” and it has had a dismal reputation. It didn’t help that it was recently widely reported that a vulnerable man drowned in the river on his way home after a Friday evening at the nightclub (allegedly, this man may have been involved in an altercation outside the club.) The club was often rumoured to be a place where the staines chavs, louts and general neer-do-wells got together to drink alco-pops before a night of general aggression.
More recently the night-club entrepreneur Max Angliss (frankly he looked like a bit of a wise-guy to me) had tried to glam up the place by transforming it into a swanky lap-dancing club cum strip-club (hence the Diamonds and Denim moniker.) But he finally admitted defeat this week (September 6 2007) when the club went into liquidation.
Max Angliss has blamed Spelthorne Borough Council for the failure of his club by suggesting that the council should have created a taxi rank for the punters. Spelthorne retaliated by saying that cabs could stop anywhere they liked in Staines (thus hinting that, maybe, they didn’t like stopping near the nightclub.) And who can blame the cabbies? I have heard reliable accounts of minicab drivers being sworn at, verbally and physically attacked and short-changed etc. by clientele from the club. It is also rumoured that cab drivers needed to arm themselves for self-protection if they attended the club after dark.
For a while Hard-Fi’s songs about life in Staines – the drunken Friday nights at The Exchange included- had almost made the place ‘trendy’ in some kind of kooky, quaint nostalgic way. But there again, Hard-Fi have also written about the nearby Feltham Young Offenders’ Institution (‘Feltham Is Singing Out’ was inspired by Zahid Mubarek, an inmate murdered by his racist cellmate) and that has hardly done much for the popularity of the place!
Did Cheekees have a ‘romantic image’ at any time? Probably not. Even Richard Archer the Hard-Fi frontman said so; “Cheekees”, he once explained, “is Staines’ solitary nightclub, where the clientele goes from age 18 to 50, and on Saturday night you can set your watch by the moment where the DJ segues between Livin’ on a Prayer and Come On Eileen….As bad as it is there, you go out in Staines, you end up in Cheekees.”
Still, it wasn’t bad enough to put the band off of choosing Cheekees for their debut album’s launch party scheduled for July 7 2005- sadly cancelled due to a family bereavement.
So now what are we left with? Memories? Not really, I’m afraid. The Exchange was hardly in the same league as The Old Trout, Windsor (the extinct, but not forgotten local venue where the likes of Blur, Pop Will Eat Itself, Elastica and even Oasis played.) It won’t mean a thing to the oldies- unlike the Town Hall that featured in the feature film Gandhi and was ‘done-up’ by that nice man Kenneth Branagh and his (then) wife Emma Thompson in 1994.
But we still have the Hob (hobgoblin) which, fortunately is looking healthy. We have the rather nice Iguana (The Railway) at Egham [http://www.theiguanaegham.co.uk/]. We also have the very, very upmarket No 1 Club at Ascot [1 High Street, Ascot, Berkshire, SL5 7JF] and some reasonable (but chavvy) nightlife in Kingston and Reading (even Windsor) short train-rides away.
So, farewell then, Cheekees …
I’ll let Quentin know that there is no point being dropped off in Staines next time he is just passing through!