"I refused to go to the hotel. Absolutely not. It was the Loreto Abbey Dalkey whispering in my ear," laughs Síona Ryan, recalling her date with Prince in Dublin in 1995.
The chocolatier, who runs her company CocoFan from her Wicklow kitchen, was in charge of the VIP room at The Pod nightclub in Dublin when she caught the eye of the diminutive rock star.
Prince and his entourage had gone into the club on a quiet Thursday evening to scope it out before the after-party to his show at The Point was held there. Ryan says she walked up to him and asked him would he like a drink, much to the horror of his posse.
“He had a pina colada, appropriately,” she tells Róisín Ingle, on the latest Róisín Meets podcast.
Her boldness must have left an impression, because soon afterwards Ryan got word from her boss, The Pod owner John Reynolds, that her company had been requested.
Chaperone in tow at Reynolds’s insistence, Ryan was led on a merry dance across Dublin, in and out of venues and cars, through VIP areas and out again, until eventually she was met by Prince in his limo, where they had their date.
At the time Prince had dropped his name and was going through his phase of being represented by a symbol, which meant Ryan didn’t know how to address him.
“I kept saying to him, ‘It’s not equal to have a conversation with somebody when you know my name and I don’t know what to call you’, and he said, ‘You can call me baby’,” she laughs.
“I hadn’t thought about this for years until he died … what’s interesting is that I didn’t think it was that wild at the time and that gives you a sense of what Dublin was like then … just full of all sorts of things happening all the time,” she says.
Ministry of Sound
Ryan's career took her to London next, where she worked as the "bitch on the door" at the massive Ministry of Sound nightclub, picking and choosing who would get in that night. That job led to her getting involved in the club's record label and signing Las Vegas band The Killers.
Ryan also speaks about learning how to make chocolates, a process which began when her late mother became so ill that she no longer had an appetite and eating became all about getting the “maximum joy from small portions”.
To listen to Róisín Ingle quiz Síona Ryan about Prince, her club career, signing The Killers and her journey towards creating her chocolate brand CocoFan, go to www.irishtimes.com/podcasts