Janine Dunand

Managing director of Java Club, Geneva

"I remember when I was sitting on the steps of the Fusterie church during my Baroque times and thinking, “it’s incredible, it’s mine”. I was proud and moved."

My career path

I’m the managing director of Java Club, which I created from nothing in 2005. I was originally hired as a consultant to revamp the restaurants at the Noga Hilton Hotel (now the Grand Hotel Kempinski). I noticed this large section of the basement and, within two years, had transformed it into a bar. I designed it down to the last detail – the layout, the music, the staff, everything. They call me the Queen of the Night, which makes me laugh since I don’t drink, I don’t smoke and I lead a very organized life. Besides, most of the preparation happens during the day. That’s when I work with the club’s 40 staff members, whom I have to choose carefully, and then make sure they remain motivated, encouraging them to always do better and to come up with new ideas. You can’t do anything without a team. We also have theme nights, which entails looking for artists, drawing up contracts and booking well-known DJs. That requires a lot of prep work and back and forth with agents. My graphic designer is amazing, but I still have to go over the logos, send out invitations, stay on top of communications, and so on and so forth. I’m at the club three evenings a week.

My passion. It’s definitely people. I like being in contact with people, and seeing them and the sheer diversity of their lives and the paths they’ve taken – that’s the job I chose. Sometimes I don’t feel like going out, going to the club, but as soon as I get there, that special magic in the music and the lights kicks in, and we create new stories and meet new people. At night, everything is more intense.

My career path. I started out as a primary school teacher and also gave lessons in French and history to secondary school students who were studying for their end of school exams. I really enjoyed teaching. But I also went out on the town a lot with my husband, whom I married when I was very young. One night we were at a club (Midnight) and he told me that the owner wanted to sell it, so I encouraged him to buy it so that I could go dancing every night. That’s how it all started. Back then I was as thin as a stick because I was dancing all the time. It was also when FM radio came out. I knew Jean-François Acker, who created the Couleurs 3 radio station, and he would give me the latest records from the United States. After that there was the adventure of the Baroque club at Place de la Fusterie, which was a huge success for the ten years I was there. I started with five employees and by the end there were 50 of us. In 1994, I became the first person to get a DJ behind the bar, and now it’s the kids of the people who came to Baroque that come to Java Club. Today we’re well established, but we had some difficult years.

My parents were a great source of support. They helped me through university even though we came from a humble background. And my studies really broadened my horizons. Then there’s my husband, who’s older than me. He supported me, taught me about business and accounting, and introduced me to people to help me expand my social circle. You have to look around you and gain knowledge.

A downside or obstacle ? Even today, it’s twice as hard for women. People take us for idiots, so we have even more to prove and need to watch out for people trying to get one over on us. It’s frustrating. Of course, sometimes our feminine charm can be an advantage, but it’s still difficult. There aren’t many women doing what I do. I’d like to have a woman on my management team, but often her partner vetoes that idea, undoubtedly out of jealousy, since it’s still frowned upon for a woman to work in the nightlife industry.

I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished, getting so far on my own and fighting like a lioness to get here. I remember when I was sitting on the steps of the Fusterie church during my Baroque times and thinking, “it’s incredible, it’s mine”. I was proud and moved.

The Proust Questionnaire

This section is available only in the original language
Au-delà de votre profession

Lire, jardiner, dîner avec des ami-e-s, recevoir, voyager, aller au cinéma et je suis accro au sudoku ainsi qu’à mes deux chats.

Des personnes qui vous inspirent

Les hommes politiques, les gens intelligents, les écrivains, les journalistes, un concierge avec lequel je discutais beaucoup et des femmes comme Françoise Sagan ou Simone Veil, et toutes celles qui se battent courageusement partout dans le monde pour leurs droits.

Un livre & un film

Ça a débuté comme ça (Fabrice Lucchini) et Green Book (Peter Farelly)

Un objet

Un chat en porcelaine chinoise offert comme porte-bonheur.

Une couleur

Le bleu

Un rêve

L’éducation pour tout le monde, c’est ce qui sauverait la planète.