606 Club | 30y
Esther is originally from Birmingham but moved down to London to enroll in art college to study textiles. She dabbled in acting and was always drawn to music, in particular jazz funk, and her saxophone teacher worked in the 606 Club in Chelsea. As Esther puts it, ‘I’ve always dug my feet in and worked’, so she found a job in the club through her teacher in 1989, washing up initially before moving onto the floor.
The part-time nature of the job suited her well and everyone including the owner was an actor or a musician (or both) and shifts were juggled to fit it with each other’s schedule. She also relished the opportunity to work in one of the best jazz clubs in Europe, and still sings and plays the sax in gigs all over the country.
‘The standard of musicianship, whatever style it is, is always right up there’, Esther comments on the club that has been on Lots Road opposite the power station since 1988, but is named after its original location at number 606 King’s Road.
Something she’s noticed in her 30 years at the club is a change in work ethic. People (particularly the British workers) didn’t take the club work seriously, claiming that they were really a singer or a dancer, not a waiter. Esther used to have to reprimand them a little: ‘no - tonight, you’re a waiter!’. She’s seen a change in recent years, though, and young people seem to be a lot more on the ball during their shifts - perhaps as a result of parents pushing them a little more, she muses. She feels there’s been a recent change in people’s attitude to work and taking more pride in their jobs
The community spirit in the 606 is palpable, and several other team members have been there for decades as well. One of the club’s tag lines is ‘where characters hang out’, and that seems to extend to its staff as well. It used to be a lot wilder and Esther’s actually a little glad that it’s calmed down now; she remembers the days when the team would hang out after the night shift, jamming and drinking until 3 or 4 in the morning, and the boss would eventually have to tell them to leave as they just didn’t have the willpower otherwise. Once the licensing laws extended, though, there was no real need to open so late as the public had other options, and nights for the staff became shorter and a little more disciplined.
The walls are peppered with old photos of team members past and present, some taken by Esther herself, and it has the vibe of a second home to everyone who works there, with cheekiness and jokes tossed around with abundance. Long may it continue!