NRG emerges in Squamish Women entrepreneurs do it all by themselves By Oona Woods A new crew is on the scene in Squamish with the opening of the NRG Cabaret. In the two months since its debut in Squish the club has already attracted a loyal following of over 250 people for its dance and live music nights. The club is located in the Chiefton Hotel, operating out of an old cabaret room. Open Wednesday to Saturday, from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m., the cool decor, trendy scene and funky ambience has answered a need for the 19 to 30 year old crowd looking for somewhere happening to go. So who supplied the energy for NRG? Was it a wealthy businessman with a chain of night clubs longer than his string of racehorses? Not at all. It's two women, Nicole Busby and Dale Arnet. The dynamic duo put the whole club together from scratch. This doesn't just mean turning down the dimmer switch, lighting candles and scattering a few throw cushions. They actually gutted the place, dry-walled, built all the tables, decorated and generally proved that sisters are doing it for themselves. "Not one contractor was used during the whole process," says Busby with understandable pride. "We gyp-rocked that whole wall, cut 2x4s, mudded floors, built the DJ booth, moved the bar out six feet and worked like dogs for three months. All of the art on the walls is from auctions. We shopped for a month and a half." "We did everything ourselves," adds Arnet. "That long bar table was from an auction. You should have seen it. It was hanging about eight feet out of the back of my van on the way back from Langley. We've been here every day since December. We even re-did the washrooms. All the walls have five coats of paint. It was so ugly before we didn't quite know what to do with it." "Yeah," agrees Busby. "There were these little cedar panels in the shape of trees, and painted plywood. We've had support from our friends and family. There's a story in every fixture. Everyone left their mark somewhere." Busby is from Nova Scotia and has been living in Squamish for the last few years. At only 28 years old she brings 15 years experience in the service industry with her. Arnet was born in Squamish and says the whole project has been incredible. "Five years ago I was a single mom on welfare with six kids. Now I have work that I love and time to spend with my family." When they met through work three years ago they decided to start a business together. They were both working service industry jobs at the time. Busby was seriously considering moving back to Nova Scotia because she needed a change and Arnet was sick and tired of working two jobs. They established a door-to-door flyer delivery service. Ultimately that created the financial platform for NRG. "I wanted the opportunity to work as hard at one job and still spend time with my kids." "I would always bitch that there was no where to go," says Busby. "You can go to Whistler but you can't drink and drive. I just wanted to dance. Now I can dance all the time." There was a lot of interest in the cabaret room of the Chiefton but no one caught the owner’s imagination as well as Arnet and Busby. "I was trying to find a reason to stay. Then one day a bunch of friends were sitting around talking about opening a club and someone mentioned the Chiefton room as a possible location," recalls Busby. "We actually made a 50 cent bet to phone the Chiefton and ask about the lease. About 100 people wanted the lease. We came and looked at it twice and then the third time they offered it to us. We didn't have a dime in the bank when we signed that five year lease. We didn't tell the owners that until the opening night. In fact we always say that we had five bucks to our name when we made that first swing of the hammer. It was pretty freaky there for a while... There are no rich backers and no rich parents. We just worked incredibly hard to get here." When they signed the lease they put their flyer business up for sale and also applied for personal loans. "The renos started in March and the loans came through in April," says Arnet. After working all hours of the day for months the opening night finally came. "We were so nervous," says Arnet. "I was still running around with a drill in my hand and people were coming in saying we'd never make it. Then 20 minutes before opening we went to the bathrooms to change and just hid. We closed our eyes and freaked. Then we came down and there were 100 people lined up." "It was the freakiest day of my life," adds Busby. The consistent crowds at NRG since its opening proves the women have found a niche in the Squamish market. But as two women have they had any crowd-control trouble? "I think it's almost better," says Arnet. "Women can control crowds really well. We can have 250 people in here and no trouble at all. We just walk around and talk to people. Men are more apt to calm down with women." "People love it," says Busby. "We're actually just big schmoozers. We love running around buying people drinks. We play good pool too and scam them on the tables." Busby says they have also stayed in touch with local police, in order to avoid any trouble. "The cops actually came out and shook our hands. We went to them before we opened and asked for troubleshooting advice. We asked them what they'd like to see. So we've put in flood lights out the back and we always go out at the end of the night. There's always a crowd of about 100 people. We're there making sure no fights break out. We go out there to make sure everyone's happy and okay. So every time the police have come by they see Dale and I. We just watch the room. But we have a good time too." Arnet summed it all up when she looked around the club they have created from scratch and said: "It just proves you can make you dreams come true." On Wednesdays the club has free pool, so you can test your mettle against the owners, Thursdays alternate between a live jam and DJs up from the city, while Friday and Saturday nights go off large with a big friendly dance party.