“She came home one day and said it was closed,” Tracey adds. “She was really gutted. Me and [my husband] David had a chat and thought ‘let’s give it a shot’, because the Guild Hall had shut down and there was nothing like it in Preston for tribute acts
“That’s how it all started,” she said.
Having thrown open its doors in October last year with a Scream Night celebrating Halloween featuring live horror actors, Riva Showbar is a new club and events venue in the heart of Preston city centre.
The establishment is geared towards offering something which the owners say the city is lacking: something just that little bit different.
Dead set on creating a bustling live music scene, the club is prepping itself to host a wide range of tribute acts in the coming months from across the spectrum of musical genres.
On top of that, they regularly host Riva’s Got Talent competition nights, pantomimes, plays, and even boxing and wrestling.
“With the Guild Hall closing, we thought it would be good to offer somewhere for people over the age of 25 to go,” said David Billington, Tracey’s husband.
“We’ve been concentrating on tribute acts and we’re in conversations with a few named acts, too.
“We do a wide range of things at the club - we have to in order to survive,” David added. “A lot of places in Preston are closing at incredible speed, especially live music venues, so there aren’t many around anymore.
“We’re adaptable because we’ve got a huge space which we’ve been painting and doing up, and over the next six months we’ll be making even more improvements,” explained David, who regularly DJs at the club. “We realised there were no live music venues in Preston big enough to cope with proper named acts.
“Preston is missing out on a lot of good entertainment. There’s definitely a market there, so my wife asked if we should go for it and I said ‘why not?’”
Why not indeed.
Also offering use of large function rooms catering for a whole range of events, conferences, and weddings as well as private parties, Riva Showbar is located on Tithebarn Street and is a sprawling 26,000-square foot establishment.
And as a long-term local DJ, David is confident that it’s the kind of place which can be successful.
“I’ve DJed around Preston for years but everything’s geared for youngsters,” said Preston-born David, 57. “I love DJing; I used to be a nurse and then the hospital closed down so I went into entertainment funnily enough. We ended up taking a big ‘70s and ‘80s show all around England, going to all the football clubs.
“Over Christmas and New Year recently we did a few parties and now in the new year we’ve got a few dinner dances as well as exhibitions,” he continued. “We also run a monthly kids’ fun-house with inflatables.
“Ticket sales are going well now - the tribute groups are some of the best in the country, some serious names. Hopefully when we’ve got the first named event off we’ll be away.
“We want people to know we’re here: we’re right opposite the bus station in the town centre,” said David. “We’re getting the word out.”
Tracey is similarly confident.
“We’ve got stuck in: we’ve got a Motown night coming up and people are going mad for it,” she said. “There’s a market for it: people have always said it’s something Preston needs. And because we’re not actually in the centre of town, people have said they feel safe where we are. It’s their own thing.
“We’ve got a few regulars already, which is great,” she added. “I love it; it’s a great thing to be a part of.”