From the mods of the Sixties, through punk and rave to student nights and cheesy disco, one Brighton venue has spanned every swing in popular tastes.

As the old Event II prepares to reopen as the city's first superclub, Ben Parsons looks back at a tumultuous 42 years for the building.

Everyone knows where Margaret Thatcher was in the early hours of October 12, 1984.

But few people will be aware that just hours before the IRA bombed the Grand Hotel in Brighton the Iron Lady was letting her hair down at a popular Brighton nightclub.

The Top Rank Suite had been playing host to the Conservative Agents' Ball as part of the party's autumn conference.

Mrs Thatcher may have been the leader of the country.

But to many young Brightonians she was nowhere near as important as the steady stream of stars who kept the Top Rank Suite packed with music-lovers year in, year out.

The venue is about to reopen as superclub Oceana, with a range of bars and dancefloors promising customers a chance to tour the world in one night.

And when it opens on Thursday it will not be the first time the venue has revolutionised Brighton's nightlife.

The Top Rank Suite opened in 1965 as part of a nationwide chain.

Big band jazz was still in the mainstream, with Syd Dean and his band backing solo singers.

Bonny Manzi, 76, from Patcham, was a jazz promoter who put on acts including the Glenn Miller Band and the Temperance Seven at the Top Rank Suite.

He said: "It was quite a successful place, quite popular. It was the big band era.

"Syd Dean was the grandfather of ballroom. He was the one in those days. It was lovely - that's what you'd call entertainment."

As styles and tastes changed, rhythm and blues began to compete with the more staid big band sound.

Regulars remember sitting out the waltzes and two-steps and waiting for the disc jockeys to come on and play Tamla Motown records.

Mod Alan Morris - known as King Jerry - was the inspiration for the character of Ace Face in Quadrophenia, the film about the heyday of mid- 1960s mod culture.

Now 65, he has fond memories of the Top Rank Suite.

He said: "Everybody went there - it was the place to go. It was mod stuff, then it went over to hippie stuff. The bands were absolutely brilliant."

With popularity came the roughand- ready reputation which still plagues West Street today.

Mr Morris said: "You used to get trouble from the out-of-towners. I've seen punch-ups, fights, everything there."

Regular Kathy Hemestretch, 50, of Elm Drive, Hove, said: "It had a chequered past - lots of punch-ups and that sort of thing.

"But it was a great, great place.

They used to put on all the acts.

"I went down there from the age of 11 or 12 because it used to be open on Saturday mornings in the 1960s.

"Then when I got older we used to go down on a Tuesday night and a Sunday night."

From the late 1970s the Top Rank Suite entered its heyday, drawing the country's biggest names to its stage.

Pat Shevlin moved to Brighton as the venue's deputy manager in 1980.

The 50-year-old remembers a succession of acts from the punk and new wave acts like the Undertones, Public Image Ltd, Joy Division and Killing Joke, to the reggae music of Aswad and Toots and the Maytalls, to Eighties chart-toppers Adam and the Ants, UltraVox, Culture Club, Annie Lennox, Kid Creole and Level 42.

Herbie Hancock, Curtis Mayfield, Robert Plant, James Brown and U2 are some of the names from the pop music pantheon to entertain the Brighton crowds at the Top Rank Suite. Mr Shevlin said: "It was quite some venue." He remembers James Brown cancelling a show which had attracted interest from far and wide.

He said: "James Brown was an interesting one. He was scheduled to appear and we had ticket enquiries from all over the country.

"People were coming up from Exeter for the show.

"But at the last moment the Rolling Stones began a tour in America and he left to do that. We had 24 hours' notice."

The singer lined up another date but the public were sceptical about the booking. Mr Shevlin said: "He came back three months later. As I recall nobody believed he was going to turn up, and we only had 1,100 there out of a 2,000 capacity.

"He turned up in mid-afternoon with his minister, a physician and his bodyguards.

"There was only one of our handymen there and a glass collector who I don't think had even heard of James Brown.

"They went off in their limousine and had a meal in Preston Street."

Fashions changed, but Mr Shevlin and King Jerry still promote regular soul nights at the greyhound stadium in Hove.

When party conferences came to town the Top Rank Suite was the number one destination - with Mrs Thatcher and then Labour leader Michael Foot gracing the hall with their presence over the years.

The venue had its first refurbishment in 1990 and was renamed the Event.

After another refit in 1996 it was renamed the Event II.

The club moved with the times as it approached the millennium.

Primal Scream, Robbie Williams, The Chemical Brothers, Embrace and Ice T are among the more acts to play at the venue more recently.

Some bands have provoked notoriety with their performances.

Members of The Stranglers were arrested after an altercation with a police sergeant at their 1978 gig.

Rave act The Orb incurred the wrath of Iranian doormen when they used samples of a reading from the Koran at a 1992 gig.

General manager Tony Buck became the Top Rank Suite's general manager in 1975. The Argus reported last month how he has overtaken Peter Stringfellow as the longestserving nightclub manager in Britain.

He has seen styles come and go but he knows the fundamentals of the business remain the same.

He said: "You change with the different music cycles, but I think it's still the culture of the British public that people want to go out and enjoy themselves on an evening.

"They want comfortable surroundings.

"They want to go a place that is well managed and well controlled."

Did you dance the night away at the Top Rank Suite, Event or Event II? Did you meet your future spouse there? Leave your memories below