It was nearly 20 years ago that I walked into the Groucho club for the first time. I knew a little about its history and had heard some stories about the goings-on there.
Nothing really prepared me for my first contact with one of the most influential front of house characters in this great city of London.
Bernie Katz, aka The Prince of Soho, who stalked, screamed and mostly sashayed his way through the club on a nightly basis. The only man to give me a full-on smacker of a kiss every time he saw me, I really wasn’t alone in receiving this joyful greeting, but he made you feel it was all about you.
Bernie could spot you locked in a dull conversation from any floor, and swoop to rescue you. Equally, he was able to hook you up with exactly the right person, should you be on your own and needing company.
As for the dance moves, well, I was privileged and honoured to have shared a floor with him from time to time and marvelled at his ability to move like no one I have ever seen.
A flat atmospheric room was as much an anathema to Bernie as it was a challenge to fix. Kick open the door, demand attention and dominate. Not that he needed to demand, as those incredible suits did it before he opened his mouth, as did his unique aura.
I have met and worked with some great characters, but Bernie was the pick of the bunch.
London will forever be a quieter and less interesting place now.
However, St Peter and the angels are about to understand how to party.
Bernie, thank you for the best of times.