As the youngest female to own a collection of award-winning, culture-changing nightclubs in East London, Tava O’Halloran juggled a busy career, crippling failure, financial ruin, and bounced between both sides of the law, all while surviving new motherhood…

Queen of Clubs

Queen of Clubs

Being a working Mum is such an abstract concept. Like the moon and the sun, they are total opposites, but miraculously every day they make it work.

My role as a mother has never been conventional. As far as the love, infatuation and the immense learning curve I had with my baby, it has been beautifully 'normal', but my 'working mother' life has never been…

Nightclubs and babies don't mix: I owned my club and while I was pregnant I dreamt of being someone's employee. A secure job role and a fortnightly salary neatly deposited into my account. Sick days and holiday pay.

My pregnancy was a juggling act of vomiting into a bin next to my desk, repulsed by the smell of alcohol, and 24-hour 'morning sickness'. Working at night, in a crowded club; having to relieve my continually full, 3rd-trimester bladder as the person in the next cubicle is doing lines of coke, trying to hide the sharp sniff with a deep fake cough and a toilet flush. As my waters broke, I had to track down the M.I.A. venue manager as the club was due to open.

But the roller coaster really began with my beautiful baby on my hip. Baby verses nightclub. Together we dealt with an undercover investigation, international passport fraud, and police corruption. When my life's savings and the nightclub was ripped out from under me, and I couldn’t go on, my teething child still needed to be soothed through the night. When I negotiated with a lawyer to fight to keep my nightclub, she was pushed back and forth in her buggy for an afternoon nap in the noisy office. It was a balancing act of survival, sleep deprivation and negotiation in a cut-throat industry. Work not meant for innocent babies and raw, tender new mothers.

The thing I realised about being a working mother, regardless of the job, is that there is always compromise. Once I left the nightclub industry, I got a creative, but corporate role: glorious, regular pay and safety net sick days.

Somehow, though, it wasn't any easier. The unrealistic demands of doing a full-time job well and raising a young child didn't feel feasible. I longed for the days of my bub in a doorway bouncer as I nutted out the marketing plan, not FaceTiming with Nanny to say good night to my little lady because I had to work late to get the enormous job done. Being penalised for leaving to go to a Mothers’ Day concert while everyone else is having 'bonding' Friday work’s drinks. Being expected to work like you didn't have a little life that depended on you, regardless of doing the work within your contracted hours. It's the overtime, the above-and-beyond needed, and lack of flexibility that keeps females out of full-time, management roles.

Being a mother will always be my greatest job. I choose award assemblies, and school pick-up. I choose to take work projects around school hours. I choose not to earn the salary of my male counterparts because I have a young child that needs raising, and luckily I have a supportive husband to do this. Yes, it means you don’t get all the lovely perks like overseas trips and fancy handbags, but I can try and do THIS job well.

The resilience and strength that working mums need, blows my mind - and I only have one child?!? So I wrote our story down, about those roller-coaster days together, and the result is Queen of Clubs.

But I do wonder, how can we make it, so we don't have to choose?

Queen of Clubs by Tava O'Halloran (£13.99) is available now:

Come and join the Queen of Clubs virtual launch party via Instagram:@qocbook. #Can’t.Put.It.Down #QOCbook.

You can also access an exclusive club soundtrack here: The book trailer can be viewed here: