Over the years I have amassed quite a collection of files containing reports of strange goings-on in nightclubs.
A case in point is the eerie doppelganger of a man named André who embarked on a hyperactive career as a serial womaniser at the California Club on Birkenhead’s Conway Street in the late 1960s.
Flamboyant playboy André, with his flashy Saville Row suits, perfectly styled long hair and gunslinger moustache and he continually had affairs with mostly married women who frequented the California Club.
When André was confronted by the enraged husbands of these women – almost a weekly occurrence – he claimed he had never set foot inside the California Club in his life and that a sinister impostor was trying to get him into trouble. André was not believed, and on one occasion when he was put in hospital by a jealous husband who broke his nose and fractured his rib, the “other” André continued his tricks, dining with the man’s wife at the Kingsland Restaurant on Borough Road on this occasion.
Witnesses at the restaurant - including a policeman who knew the betrayed husband - swore his wife was with André.
It soon became clear that André either had a twin brother he didn’t know about – or the impostor was someone who simply bore a strong likeness to him. In the end two wronged husbands teamed up and confronted the enigmatic philanderer in a cul de sac – and the lookalike ran into the shadows of the blind alley – then vanished into thin air, never to be seen again. Another supernatural mystery concerns the Birkenhead clubland of the Eighties – September 1986 to be precise.
A 20-year-old girl named Gina went to see a synth pop band called Scribble at Stairways Club, but the night was marred by three men in their twenties who kept “trying it on” with her.
They deliberately stood in front of Gina and pushed themselves up against her and one of them, a stocky man with curly hair and an unshaven face, kept asking Gina if she’d like to go home with him.
After an hour of being persecuted by the annoying trio, Gina and her friend Deborah sneaked out of the club and went to Rocky’s Nightclub on Argyle Street. The girls had only been at the club for ten minutes when a man who looked old enough to be Gina’s father approached her as she left the toilet. ‘Excuse me,’ said the man, who wore ridiculously wide trousers with turn-ups and a double breasted black jacket, ‘but if I may be so bold, would you like to accompany me to the Park Ballroom Club? Or are you with someone?’
‘You’re a bit old for me, aren’t you?’ asked a bemused Gina.
She noted that his short black hair was heavily oiled and parted in the centre, his skin was quite pale, and his dark brown eyes were very penetrating yet attractive – but she dismissed him as a potential boyfriend because he looked a bit too old – perhaps in his forties.
She smiled politely at the stranger and walked on, but he shouted after her, ‘Gina! I could take you to the Contact Club! My car’s outside!’
Gina slowly turned, and as the synth intro of Human League’s Don’t You Want Me Baby pounded across the dance floor, the girl asked the unfashionable man, ‘How did you know my name?’ He just smiled and made no reply, then turned and walked away. ‘Who’s he?’ Deborah asked her friend, and Gina shrugged and said, ‘We leave a bunch of pests in one club and meet another in this one.’
Fifteen minutes later in walked the three men who had pestered Gina at Stairways Club.
The bearded member of the unholy trinity – a man named Brian - came straight over to Gina, and he seized her, gripping her forearms with his hands. He said, ‘That song’s about us – the Boris Gardiner one – I Wanna Wake Up with You.’
‘You’ll wake up in hospital if you don’t get lost!’ Deborah shouted at Brian but he gave her the two-fingered salute and turned to face Gina again, who looked frightened. ‘How about it eh?’ ‘You’re hurting my arms,’ she said, and tried to free herself from Brian but he leaned forward and kissed her and Gina turned her face away. ‘Excuse me!’ came a well-spoken voice from somewhere.
Brian turned around, and then he saw a man in a dark old-fashioned suit standing there. Gina saw it was the man who’d asked her to accompany him earlier. Brian stood there, put his hands in his pockets, then looked the man up and down and said, ‘What do you want, Dad?’
Brian’s two associates laughed at the question, but the man threw a punch at Brian that knocked one of his front teeth out, and as Brian fell unconscious to his knees with his hands still in the pockets, the middle-aged man laid into the remaining two members of the trio, knocking both of them out.
The stranger, who was obviously well-versed in the noble art of pugilism, smiled at Gina – and then he vanished before her eyes. Gina and Deborah ran out of the club.
They later learned the ghost who had floored the three pests was known as “Knocker” – a boxer who died on the premises of the club long before it was Rocky’s.