History of Gay and Lesbian Life in Milwaukee, Wisconsin - Businesses - Bars and Clubs

Gary's Dance Club
Location: 219 S. 2nd Street


May 1975
August 1975

Bar/ social



Gary's Dance Club opened in spring of 1975, and remained open for about six months. This was the age of the disco craze, and the opening of the new bar, Gary's Dance Club, was all the talk at The Factory, which had been "King" of dance clubs in town for the previous few years. (The new Gary's location had previously held a bar called The Gallery Lounge from late 1974-early 1975.)

On August 23, 1975, the Milwaukee Journal reported that Gary's lost its liquor license because it discovered that James O'Connor (owner of the River Queen) owned 500 shares in Salle Enterprises, the liquor license holder. O'Connor's felony record (mail fraud in WI and conspiracy to transport stolen goods across state lines in LA) rendered him ineligible to be licensed himself, but also rendered the corporation ineligible to be licensed as long as he was a majority shareholder. As it turned out, he was the ONLY shareholder. Per the Milwaukee Sentinel, the City Attorney rendered Gary's license invalid on August 28, 1975. O'Connor, who lived at 225 E. St. Paul Ave (address of the Club Health Spa) refused to surrender the license to police, but the business closed anyway.

By December 1975, this location would re-open as Mister Z's. That was to be followed by Club Circus, then Circus-Circus, and eventually Club 219, a succession of highly successful and popular disco and dance clubs.


Advertisement, June 1975
(GPU News, June 1975, pg. 27)

Advertisement, July 1975
(GPU News, July 1975, pg. 40)

Credits: Web site concept, design and arrangement by Don Schwamb.
Main writeup by Don Schwamb;
Paragraph documenting loss of liquor license contributed by Michail Takach.
Last updated: May-2018.

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