Dayton after dark

A tour of Dayton’s Proudest digs

By Tim Smith

Dayton has long been noted for its support of the LGBTQ culture, and was named “Queerest City” by The Advocate. The variety of nightlife and entertainment in town seems to back up that claim.

Club Masque at 34 N. Jefferson St. has been in business since Christmas Day, 2004. Charles Penird, director of operations, notes that their customer base is diverse.

“Our clientele truly reflects our motto—not for everyone, everyone welcome,” he says. “We have men and women of differing ages, backgrounds and orientations, all coming to Masque to let their inhibitions go and express themselves on a weekly basis.”

Like most nightspots, Club Masque has carved out its own niche that gives the customers what they want and keeps them coming back.

“Honestly, our drag shows are our biggest draw, as we strive to bring the best in female and male impersonation from across the country,” he says. “Second to that would have to be collaborations with area DJ/event producers like Tony Desaro, etc. who bring in huge crowds on our second floor.”

Getting the club up and running initially proved to be a challenge.

“As with any new venue, of course there was some opposition from the public,” Penird says, “but Masque stayed true to its mission—provide the customer with an experience they won’t soon forget and allow them to be who they are without judgment—above all, to have fun. When Masque opened we truly were the new era in Dayton gay nightlife. We’ve always set the bar and will continue to do so.”

“We’d like customers to take away a sense of belonging, a sense of community, a sense of pride, and the realization that one building can bring so many different groups of people under one roof to have fun and truly be accepted for who they are,” he says.

Club Masque has big plans for Pride weekend.

“Every Pride festival, Masque is open to the general public from noon until 6 p.m. with no cover charge,” he says. “We have a live DJ and entertainment on our main stage to give you a break from the festivities outside. For guests 18-plus we have our huge celebration featuring our production cast girls, all of our hosts and hostesses and this year, special guest from RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 8, Chi Chi DeVayne.”

For more information, visit

Down the street at 20 N. Jefferson St. is M.J.’s, which has been operating since 2007.

“Generally speaking, our clientele is primarily men, singles and couples,” says Entertainment Director Alexis O’Hara. “But we are definitely a club for everyone and all are welcome!

“We strive to provide something for everyone,” she continues. “Great cocktails and drink specials daily, live entertainment, game nights, karaoke, and more. We recently opened a full service kitchen serving sandwiches, wings, nachos, dips and desserts.

“We have a dedicated fan base for our Thursday and Sunday Karaoke nights,” she continues. “Our weekends bring entertainers from across the country. Special events include theme party nights, pageants and fundraisers for many local charities.”

A little known fact is that the club is named after its two owners, Matt Ross and Jerid Martel. O’Hara notes that the community was receptive when the club opened.

“We don’t feel as though there was resistance,” she says. “It only took a short while for our guests to realize we are a family and welcome everyone with a smile and a cold beverage!”

Pride weekend will bring some special happenings to M.J.’s.

“We will be open at 8:30 a.m. on Dayton Pride Day, serving our annual Pride Breakfast starting at 9 a.m.,” O’Hara says. “We will have a float in the Pride Parade at noon, followed by entertainment all day long at the club, and a BBQ lunch from 2-4 p.m. Our evening will consist of an Ohio Gay Pride Royalty show, male dancers, and our cast show with special guest from Cincinnati, Miss Penny Tration.”

More information can be found at

Dayton’s own Rubi Girls have been entertaining audiences for three decades. A popular attraction at clubs and concert venues, they use their appearances to raise money for AIDS research.

“I think our success over the past 30 years has come from several things,” says spokesperson Tim Farquhar. “One, we are charity driven, and I think people really like having a good time and doing good all at the same time. Two, we keep it fresh by always working on the newest news story or making fun of who the press is picking on. And finally, I think a lot of it has to do with how our personalities blend on and off stage.”

The group performs in other cities but they’ve found the hometown climate to be the most accommodating.

“Dayton has been beyond our wildest imagination with support and open arms,” Farquhar says. “We still get taken aback by how wonderful Dayton treats us.”

Rubi Girls is scheduled to be the opening act for the Dayton Pride weekend.

“We most certainly do have something extra special for the great folks of Dayton to kick off Pride,” Farquhar notes.

For more information and a schedule of upcoming appearances, visit
Tim Smith is an award-winning, bestselling author. Reach Dayton City Paper freelance writer Tim Smith at

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Tim Smith is an award-winning, bestselling author. Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Smith at

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