After months & month of building works, we opened! The excitment and nerves made it a blur. Back then social media wasn't what it is today. We had very few places to advertise this kind of venue. So things were slow to start with.
However the day of opening was here. We had matching polo shirts back then to make us look smart and professional... This didn't last as we decided that we wanted to just be us.
Day one - 13 people attended. It was a lovely day getting to know people. The very first customers N0.1 still attends today. He one of the nicest guys you could wish to know.
Day 2 - 8 people
Day 3 - 11 people
I remember Ollie standing at the end of the bar and saying what the fuck have we done. If we don't get more people this won't work.
So I did something. I cant say what. It wasn't anything illegal but lets just say it worked..
Numbers started to grow. We were 7 days a week then. We then started Naked Tuesday and things were getting there.
It was the help from the "Bears" that kicked us off with a really good bear day that made a huge difference to us in the first months prior to the roof disaster. They worked so hard helping us.
We will always be grateful to Rainbow massage who built us our very first website. He played a big role in TOUCH in the first few years.
March 2012 just as were gaining some momentum with numbers visiting the venue this happened.
Thankfully we were closed and no one was injured despite several rumours that circulated...
At first we didn't understand fully what it was or what had caused it. What was about to follow was the worst period of our lives.
After contacting the landlord we agreed we couldn't continue trading as we didn't know the extent of the structural damage to the building.
We then proceeded to try and get the landlord to repair it as thats what our lease stated, We also paid for buildings insurance, additionally we had our own insurance that should have covered us.
Needless to say the insurers and the landlord kept us hanging. Over the next 8 months we went to hell and back. It was the only time we felt like there was no way to turn.
The chance of loosing absolutely everything we had worked for was unbearable. Certain thoughts did go through my mind. But then you have a choice. End it all, Yes it was that bad. Or, fight like we never fought before.
So we fought. And boy didnt we make them pay!
This was a painfully long process and difficult to go into fully, but the long and short of it is this.
We won. The landlord went bust, The sub Tennant our landlord incurred significant costs, let's just say by the time they were free of the situation there wasn't much change out of a million. This was mainly due to multiple leases having to be brought out. to save them from certain liabilities. We didn't get it any money. But, then the administrators were left with the property.
So we told the administrators that if we leave they would lose the rental income, which we still had to pay throughout the whole process. Plus they would incur the business rates. We would also destroy everything we built. We were clever and when taking on the lease, we changed some clauses removing any obligation to reinstate anything as the building was an empty shell. This meant we could leave the property in whatever state we wanted.
So the administrators ask what we wanted. So we had all the repairs done to the structure and all the damaged areas reinstated. Additionally we demanded multiple years of free rent going forward. They agreed.
We then reopened to the busiest day we had ever had. The love and support was truly incredible. Heart warming!
We know it's just a simple 1960s block and beam building that no-one has ever given a dam about. But after all this we felt like it was ours, It was now a unbreakable bond. we put more effort into it than anyone ever did before. So when we found out it was going to auction obviously we want it.
However due to being low on money after what had happened we couldn't afford it without over stretching ourselves.
We got it eventually though! We now own the entire freehold. So...Never give up! You can't always see what's going to happen or understand why at the time, but the one thing we've learnt is everything thats going to happen will, you just have to make the best of it and keep going.
We always had steel determination to succeed, This situation made it even stronger.
We then enjoy several very successful years establishing ourselves. We launched Swindon Swingers! Then bloody Covid hit... Then Petrol crisis, Then energy etc... It has been tough. But we will continue to improve and expand. Over the next two years you're going to see the club evolve into something we hope you'll love.
Our passion and dreams have never been bigger. In some ways we feel like this is just the beginning. , )