Your Reunion Team
Paul Marks Joined the team back in 1989 and stayed with the company until 2007. During his time at Dukes he entertained thousands of customers every Saturday , spear heading some major promotions as the clubs Entertainments Manager and was part of one of the first Fly on the wall documentary series called The Club...there is some intersting footage on Utube :)
Paul comments 'Dukes Experience and Tots 2000 was my favourite time in the business, The Team were amazing to work with, the customers loved the atmosphere and with recognition within the industry as two of the best clubs in the country it was a truely magical era'
Some of my favourite moments 'Creating Boogie Wonderland in 1998, FunkyTown in 99 and sending Mark Priest on the mission of Malibu every Saturday'
Roll on the next reunion
Dukes Experience back at the end of 1988 was interviewing a new DJ to join the team, he was from Hollywood nightclubs in Romford and Ipswich and his name,Pete Ferrant
Pete joined the "iconic central Essex super-club" on January 1st 1989.
Pete worked with the entire team for a whole 12 years as one of the main resident DJ's ( as well a resident DJ at their sister super-club in Southend Essex called Tots)
At Dukes, Pete played to all the crowds, on all the nights throughout the week, including the Christmas festive parties and New Year's Eve.
Part of the festive season was the "Infamous" Christmas Lunch time session held at the venue the last Friday before people broke up from work in the town and they were not only FULL but some of the funniest people getting ready for their festive break with various guest appearences live on stage including "Judge Dread"
He also worked with some of the biggest DJ's and Personal Appearances from all around the world all through his 12 years as resident DJ.
When we called Pete and asked him to join us fro the BIGGEST reunion on 25/11/17 at The Chelmsford City Race Course, he said "that would be an honour to be a part of it and see all the customers again and I'd love to do it"
Working at Dukes Experience was an absolute privilege. My era was 1987 to 1994, which meant I worked on the last night of the old Dukes and helped to set things in motion for the relaunch of “DUKES EXPERIENCE in 1990.
It was quite simply the best club in which I’ve ever worked and when I think back at the fun we had, I miss it terribly. Since leaving Dukes my career took a different turn working on Radio. Essex FM approached me in 1996 which helped to launch 21 years on the airwaves across Essex. I’m currently working on the Drivetime show on the hit music channel for Essex, Radio Essex, which takes up most of my time.
I had a call from James Hall who used to be a part of the management team at Dukes about an idea he’d had. Then, James along with Paul Ryan, Pete Ferrant, Paul Marks and myself met up. It was the first time we had seen each other for over 20 years and as we spoke about our memories the excitement started to build and we all just knew we had to deliver the first proper Dukes Experience Reunion.
Join us for what is going to be the night of the year!!!
James started his career st Dukes as Deputy Manager to Paul Ryan at the start of the 90's. After 4 years at the venue he left to become a General Manager with Luminar Leisure before joining Juliana's in London.
He then left the UK to work first in Dubai and then Singapore for several years working mostly in five-star hotels. Eventually, he returned to the UK again working for several years with large nightclub operators before opening his own venues in Essex and Norfolk.
Today James is managing Fiction in Romford and developing new entertainment ideas and concepts.
Having been born at an early age I blinked twice and found myself as an Area Manager for a Supermarket company as a proper job, and as a hobby DJ’ing at TOTS Southend from 1977 to 1983 with Barry Elson on a Tuesday for the Jazz Funk session, and as back up DJ on a Saturday with Dick De Vigne.
Dukes Chelmsford opened in April 1983 and I was the General Manager there till 1990 and again when it changed to Dukes Experience, and I finally left there in 1997 – so many mad and happy memories with great colleagues and customers – what a wonderful way to spend those years of my life! In 1993 I was awarded National Nightclub Manager of the Year by the British Entertainment and Discotheque Association – lucky boy! In 1994 I was a member of the Arctic Challenge 94 team and was the 346th person in history to reach the geographic North Pole and helped raise £100,000 for the NSPCC in the process – what a trip that was!!
I then worked for Luminar Leisure till 2010. Luminar were a corporate company with over 350 late night licensed businesses around the UK, and I ended up as Area Operations Manager responsible for twenty odd nightclubs in the South East of England along with two restaurants, a Chicago Rock Café and nightclub on Jersey. You may have heard of a few of these venues – Liquid and Envy, Romford - Liquid, Envy, Jaks and New York New York at ‘Bas Vegas’ Basildon - The Hippodrome, Leicester Square, London – Air and Breathe, Dartford - The Hippodrome Colchester – Batchwood Hall, St Albans – Liquid and Envy, Maidstone etc. etc.
At the ripe old age of 58 I decided that the magic of the last 27 years had somewhat faded, so I said goodbye to mirror balls and mannequins and bought the good old Green Man public house and restaurant at Herongate, near Brentwood. Three fantastic years later with trade having doubled from when we started there we decided that seven days a week and no time for the family was taking its toll and we sold the business within three days of putting it on the market!! Should have gone down that route thirty years before! We had a fantastic beer garden and BBQ area that were solid during the summer months – had beer festivals that brought the area to a standstill and met some fantastic people who will be friends for life.
I am now the Head of Purchasing for Directa UK Ltd who are an industrial consumable supplier providing essentials for industry all over the world – the office is ten minutes from home, I don’t work nights or weekends anymore and we actually close down for Christmas – it took me two years to adjust to working behind a desk for the first time in my life!!
Married to the lovely Jackie for forty years - three wonderful children, Natasha, Stacey and Lewis and we now have three grandchildren – blimey, how old do I feel now!!
I have been a member of the Essex Harley Chapter for 25 years and still tour the UK and Europe on the bike – and enjoy every mile!
Being involved with the Dukes Reunion has been a great reminder of great times, and we are all looking forward to this night of pure nostalgia on the 25th November – look forward to seeing you there. Paul Ryan xx