The beginning of the difficult years (1981-1988)

In 1981, the Lydia had already been living for three years, its casino was closed and Kuniko had left in 1978 due to family pressure. The liner was only used as an annex to the nearby Lydia Playa hotel. 

The Japanese group Seibu finally threw in the towel that same year and put the hotel and the Lydia up for sale.

Another era began as the casinos in Roussillon were in the doldrums. The crisis is felt, only Roland Vonné and his wife Betty, still hold the course of the night thanks to the undeniable success of the night-club.

On February 25, 1981, after long negotiations that lasted a month and a half, the Moliflor group, a local company that already operated casinos, became the owner of Lydia SA.

The Lydia remains unchanged except that the casino, which is only seasonal, is concentrated on the ground floor with the ball games and the roulette. Roland Vonné is reappointed as manager of the discotheque, still named Lydia-club, but which receives a brand new decoration in antic Greek style.

The funnel becomes all white, just topped with a red border.

In 1983 the casino was expanded and roulette and baccarat were installed on the first deck. On the same level and on the front, in the place of the former snack-bar “Crésus“, a piano-bar was installed.

The visit of the upper decks is open, a museum of ship models is installed in the former restaurant “Isadora”. A store and a bar have been installed in the place of the former on-board infirmary in the rear superstructure.

                                        Copyright Xavier Cuvelier-Roy

May 1983, the Lydia will be used for the last time as a movie set before a long period. On board, some scenes of the movie “Poussière d’empire” will be shot. The shots barely managed to hide the already very degraded decks.

The image of the myth is already beginning to fade, but an unexpected event will shake the sky of the Barcarés.

On Tuesday, June 26, 1983, early in the morning just after the closing of the nightclub, a big “Bang” resounds. The Lydia has just been plasticized!

The firemen quickly on the spot control the fire. Mr. Florenza, the manager of the casino as well as Roland Vonné, can only notice the damage:

The discotheque is completely destroyed, as well as the room of the piano bar on the front. At first they think it’s an accident, but the investigation quickly turns to a criminal act.

One year later, the discotheque barely rebuilt, some bomber were arrested in the gardens of the Lydia by the SRPJ. They wanted to blow up the boat again! The operation had in fact been sponsored by the owner of a nightclub in Port-Leucate, “the Krypton”, which the Lydia was overshadowing.

After reconstruction, the “Lydia-club” now opens on two levels (ground floor and first deck). A large concrete cube now serves as an entrance and disfigures the line of the “sand liner”. This wart will remain twenty years!

Even if the party continues, the myth is no more. The casino accumulates deficits while slot machines are still prohibited in France.

Maintenance is now neglected and out of season the hull is covered with rust. The decks have long since spat out their oakum and all the topsides are taking on water. The lifeboats are deteriorating. The wood rots, the metal oxidizes.

Only its silhouette in the distance still impresses.

Bad time for the Lydia…

The rest of her story : HERE

                                                                                                                               Olivier Alba

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