The New Yorker with a real love of Norwich
PUBLISHED: 09:15 07 December 2011
Tributes are been flooding in following the death of Hy Kurzner - our very own "Mr Clubland."
He was the American we took to our hearts and a man who helped to turn Norwich into the clubbing capital of East Anglia.
Even if you never met him, the chances are you will know the name – Hy Kurzner, who died at the weekend, aged 78.
He was a colourful character and a passionate man who devoted much of his life to making sure others had a good, and safe, time.
He was the New Yorker who arrived in Norwich in the mid- 1970s and built his leisure empire at the birth of the disco boom.
Happy Hy was a blast of fresh air on a night scene which had gone rather stale following the end of the swinging 60s.
Thousands of us danced the nights away at Hy’s and Boswells and met up at Pizza One and Pancakes Too – it was Hy who transformed ancient and rather dull Tombland into the beating, glitzy heart of the Norwich night scene.
Who remembers that armour-plated glass floor which kept in tune with the music, made thousands of patterns of light, and had a life of its own?
In 1983 it was the only fixed floor of its kind in the whole the UK.
But there was far more to Hy than dancing dance floors. He was part of the fabric of city life for four decades – involved in so many different organisations.
And he helped so many different charities. A lot of people have a lot to thank him for.
“I love it,” he once said. “It is the best-run city around, somehow they maintain a balance of new and old; they encourage growth without destroying the tradition.”
“I’ve kicked around an awful lot, and Norwich is home. That’s the first time I have been able to say that,” said the former American journalist who covered the Vietnam War and travelled the world before settling down in these parts.
Hy also led a campaign to make Norwich a safer city.
He was concerned about the violence he saw and worked closely with the police to make Norwich a place where people could have a good time without fear of being involved in trouble.
He was chairman of the Norwich club liaison committee calling for licensing, tighter regulations and proper training for club door staff.
Hy said back in 1989: “At present the basic requirement for employing a security man is that the company have a suit that fits him.”
He helped to lay the foundations for the night scene which now attracts thousands of people every week, pumps an enormous amount of money into the city and provides work for so many people.
Our thoughts are with his wife Valerie, daughters Emma and Karen and their children.
And on behalf of the people of Norwich I would like to say – thanks Hy. You made a difference.