Tokyo Jo's nightclub, Preston reliving the glory days of the North West's 'ultimate discotheque'

Tokyo Joes, top of Church Street, Preston, the centre of youth culture in the 90s and noughties
Tokyo Joes, top of Church Street, Preston, the centre of youth culture in the 90s and noughties
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It was the heart of Preston social life and changed the lives of many through the swinging 60s.

So successful was the Top Rank club, it returned for one-night only in the form of an all-singing all-dancing musical written and directed by my former drama teacher Pete Hartley and featuring yours truly in 2003.

For those of us who were lucky to be part of that great production (and it was a great show) we had a familiar connection, for the teenagers of Preston in the 90s and noughties the centre of youth culture, was its former home, Tokyo Jo's.

No Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, even the occasional Sunday night would be complete without your dancing shoes stuck to the floors of this 1,800 ‘state of the art’ capacity nightclub at the top of Church Street.

Times having moved on from those Saturday dance nights of the 60s, kissing was no longer banned on the dance floor, or anywhere else over three floors for that matter.

It was a place where love literally bloomed. In a world before Tinder, this worked out well for my best friend who met her husband there at 17, agreeing to a date as he had a car.

Friendships were made, broken and mended again in the toilets and Friday at college would be spent reliving the parts remembered from the night before. Good times.

Originally opening in August 1990, it was another 12 years before I first took my chance of making it past those neon lighted doors. I was 16.

The first task, convincing, pleading with dad it was entirely acceptable to let his daughter join friends from college in heading to the city pubs. The eldest always endures the worse of these battles.
Obviously I would be sensible, not drink (a lot) and return home at an agreed hour. He relented on the proviso I made the last No.19 bus home.

The day in college leading up to the first night was one of intense discussion of what to wear in order avoid the U-turn down Old Cock Yard and back again.

Who went at the front and on the inside of the queue would be vital to entry. It was decided wearing trousers opposed to skirts would work in our favour with the bouncers, a sign of sophistication demonstrating clearly we were of a legal age.... oh how I wish I had now kept those Topshop gold pants with diamante belt.

Metallic eyeshadow and bright pink cheeks, more fright night than glam rock.

My first taste of ‘Tokes’, costing a fiver, lasted a whole 45 minutes in order to make that late bus and avoid the wrath of dad. People were still queuing as I walked out. The shame.

But it was enough to convince me, it was worth breaking the curfew for and so it began first of many times falling in and out again of Preston’s, no, the North West’s ‘ultimate discoteque.’

What would it be like to relive those days now?

Well luck would have it former barman Brian Hudson is bringing it back – a Tokyo Joes reunion on April 18.

Still partial to a good boogie, not much else has changed except taste in drink and these days I prefer to go out in clothes and a coat.

Oh and a night out of the house to town now requires dad to play babysitter rather than taxi.

I think this is a night worth a Whatsapp chat of its very own - for those of us that know might see you there.

The Tokyo Jo’s Reunion will take place on Thursday, April 18, from 9pm to 4am. Follow the Facebook page for updates.