What’s a guy gotta do to get a drink around here?

A husband and wife take on Dayton’s ‘Fruit Loop’

By Wu W.A.N.G.

Photo: Masque boasts one of the best sound systems in the Gem City; Photo credit: Wu W.A.N.G.

What’s happening on Jefferson and Third Streets? Dayton’s Gay club district has a “seee-cret.” The intersection of the two streets is affectionately known as the “Fruit Loop” because of the four distinct nightspots in that area catering to the LBGT crowd. Dance clubs Masque and MJ’s along with two bars – The Right Corner and The Stage Door – are all within walking distance, so bouncing between them is a snap. My wife and I set off to find out what our experience might be spending Saturday making the LBGT-friendly Fruit Loop crawl.

We found parking on Jefferson, then walked to the Stage Door, our first stop. It was late in the evening; the place was about as loud and exciting as a mouse chewing on his own fingernails. As we walked inside the dimly-lit hole-in-the wall, we felt we had located the bar where the ghosts of drinkers past might show up. We sampled a drink called a girl-scout cookie while we talked with Wayne, owner of the bar. He runs his place like it was an offshoot of his living room, so everyone knows him and feels comfortable enough to give him “sneak-up hugs” from behind. The few guys sitting in the bar were either in conversation with someone or were just staring into their drinks, sitting alone. Wayne told us that Stage Door is the bar that guys come to for a strong, stiff drink before continuing their night elsewhere, or it’s the last-call destination. He’s a dedicated guy and spends most of his free time keeping the Stage Door as a place where people relax and have a good drink. We decided one drink was it and left.

Next, we found MJ’s with its rear entrance adjacent to Masque. We had never been there, but even after only one drink, it was tough to locate. We were greeted by Bruce, the manager, who gave us a club tour. One side of the place is a bar, mostly. There’s a small dance space and elevated DJ booth. The other side is a narrow space, ideal for dancing. MJ’s had a more mixed, casual crowd. There were women mixing with women and men mixing with other men. The club gave off a very friendly vibe. People were all smiles as we saddled up to the bar, so we ordered another girl-scout cookie. Dancing men – one using a whip as a prop – were wearing just a bit more than leather straps strategically placed as to not offer too much junk exposure. Yeah, they did what they do – and the people paying attention were all smiles. DJ Miss Hill was playing dance music to help with the male dance revue. My wife was getting the random “Hi girl!” and smiles from the guys along with the shoulder-touch greeting. As for me, I felt I was getting the “Hmm, what is this all about?” glance a few times from the men. The crowd skewed a bit older, but MJ’s had the mid-range energy feel for a Saturday night. Bruce gave us the tour of the smoking area on the back patio. This boasts a super view of Dayton, and you get to enjoy watching the large video screen on display at Masque. He noted that his clientele likes to be able to shuttle between his club and Masque. We talked with guys standing outside having a smoke, finished our drinks and then Bruce walked us out a private exit to find our third stop, The Right Corner.

This place is a city bar, nothing fancy. A pool table guards a popcorn machine. The place was lightly busy, and here, a nice guy offered us a birthday cake. We talked with two guys while sitting outside on the patio facing Jefferson Street. My wife was getting all of the attention from these guys who feel comfortable enough to share an outdoor table with us while having a drink. No joke, the conversation turned to make-up products. They were fun people who made us both laugh and we felt safe having a locked parking lot surrounding the patio.

After finishing another girl-scout cookie, it was 2 a.m., and we still had not made our last stop on the Fruit Loop. No worries, there was no problem getting in at Club Masque, though security was tight. Inside the club, loud music was coming from upstairs and less-loud music was heard on the main floor. Both levels had different excitement to offer, but smoking on the outdoor patio had to be the most social spot. We got chatted up by a few guys, plus a few girls this time. One guy standing next to my wife declared that she looked amazing, and also like Madonna! But actually, he took a fancy toward me and even offered to give her sex tips on how to keep a straight man happy. Back inside we met Luke, the club’s owner, who welcomed us to his club. We grabbed some last call drinks and dashed up to the second floor to finish the night. I challenge anyone to experience the Fruit Loop and not have a great time and hey, change it up, do it in reverse.

Reach DCP freelance writer Wu W.A.N.G. at WuW.A.N.G.@DaytonCityPaper.com

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