Buffalo’s oldest nightclub is gearing up for its next adventure. Owner and Operator of Club Joe “Marcella” Guagliardo packs up his things and leaves the theater district, where the club has been a longtime alternative institution for more than three decades. But as life would have it, in order to stay current (and open), Guagliardo will reinvent the club once again – at 106 Michigan Avenue (learn more).
To this end, Guagliardo says he’s more dedicated than ever to Buffalo’s dance club scene, as well as the performers and patrons who would be upset to see Marcella end. Fortunately, there is no end in sight for Marcella – just a welcome rebirth that should allow Guagliardo to further broaden his horizons. Marcella joins a host of other entertainment destinations in the Cobblestone and Canalside neighborhood, directly across from the Seneca Niagara Casino.
When I spoke to Guagliardo about the big transition, he had some pretty interesting things to say, some of which I’m going to relate. He started by telling me about the new, rapidly changing nature of downtown Buffalo.
“Our current location? There are apartments upstairs now, and the noise from the club doesn’t mix,” Guagliardo said. “When I opened 27 years ago, there was no one here. At one time we were feeding off Chippewa, but now Chippewa it’s all restaurants and sports bars. Now everyone complains about the noise in the neighborhood. Unfortunately, when you have to turn the music down, people leave. Fortunately, I have now found a new location where this will not be a problem (for now). He m It took two years to find the location, which is perfect. This will be my last nightclub. It will also be the best nightclub – better than the ones I’ve been to in Miami, Rochester and Buffalo. I have to build this one from scratch. It’s going to have all the ideas I had in mind, with two big rooms, two stages, a courtyard, a patio… and it’s going to be in the new entertainment district.
Talk with Guagliardo, the excitement in his voice was serious and palpable. I could imagine this new dance party mecca he’s about to unleash in Buffalo. And if you think you already know what Marcella is, guess again.
“We started as a gay club, and now we welcome everyone”, Guagliardo explained. “Marcella has become a place where everyone – gay, straight (and otherwise) – comes to dance, watch shows and have fun. It’s not like 1995 when there was a need for a gay club – thanks to apps like Grindr, gay clubs are suffering everywhere. In Miami, there were 20 gay clubs. Now there are three. I’m gay and I love the gay community – Marcella will always have this story of being open. It is one of the last remaining places of this nature. We have learned to change over time, otherwise we wouldn’t be here. This is going to be my last hurrah – it’s going to be fabulous… people are going to love it when they see what happens.
Club Marcella may not be as alt as it used to be, but it still draws one of Buffalo’s most diverse crowds, including 18-year-olds (who get “brazed” at the door, are accompanied by an adult and are closely supervised).
“All my clubs have always been 18+,” said Guagliardo. “Nothing fills a room like young energy. The younger ones can’t drink and they respect that because they want to come back. They respect the rules. They also bring a lot to the club. That’s another reason why Marcella is so special.
Once open, Club Marcella will be available for private parties, including birthday parties, holiday parties, bar/bat mitzvahs, holiday parties, etc.
The last day of Club Marcella in its theater district is Saturday, March 26, date on which Guagliardo plans to launch a farewell ‘rager’.
“I believed in Buffalo in 1995 and I believe in it even more now,” Guagliardo said. “It’s not the end; it’s the start of the next chapter. We’re bringing a Miami-style nightclub to our great city and with our help, the Cobblestone District will continue to evolve as a premier entertainment district. live from Buffalo.
Guagliardo will not be the only one moved at the farewell party. Over the years, Marcella has amassed a strong contingent of followers who will rally behind Guagliardo and his club.
“March 26 will be very emotional for me – I played opening night there in July 1995 after winning a DJ contest at their club in Rochester,” said Christopher Moody aka Xotec. “I played a fairly popular live show there in 1996, which was the start of my vocal house music popularity at WNY and Toronto. In addition to traveling to play clubs, raves and local events and I’ve been performing at Marcella’s for nearly 27 years, with a few gaps in between! I believe Charles Masters and I were both there on opening night; we’ll be performing one more time from home) for the last night at Pearl on Saturday March 26. Probably going to me a weepy mess I also met my ex-wife at Marcella’s (Erin’s) which gave birth to two beautiful children Rona and Regan (now 21 and 19) That’s why “Joey” is considered my children’s “godmother.” Joey, Mike, Richard and the team have been a big part of my life, as has Club Marcella. However, whether it’s Pearl/Main Street, or the new location (it’s going to blow your mind), Marcella will stay still has a big part of my family.”
And that pretty much sums up what his family Think of him. Guagliardo has created a home for so many people over the years – a place where they feel most happy and accepted. A place where they can dance and pull out their ya-yas. A place in constant evolution and too stimulating. A place we should all be grateful to have (again) in Buffalo.
“I am an artist”, said Guagliardo. “Just think of the memories – the old friends. It’s 27 years of history in downtown Buffalo. Now I want to make new memories…I’m ready to start again!
The new Club Marcella is expected to open in May 2022.
Club Marcella, Western New York’s premier live entertainment venue, will celebrate the end of an era on Saturday March 26, 2022. Club Marcella will host “One. Final. Night. Closing Party.” at its historic current location inside Theater Place after 27 years in Buffalo’s theater district. Construction is already underway at Club Marcella’s new Cobblestone District site, which will open in May 2022.
The doors will open at 9:30 p.m. with performances by Keke Valasquez-Lord and the cast of Life’s a Drag on a special midnight show. Legendary Buffalo DJs Chris “Xotec” Moody and Charles Masters, who both performed at Club Marcella on its opening night in 1995, will make special appearances. Music will also be provided by DJs Live Devious, Adam Barrett and Kyle Carson. Club Marcella is open until 4 am. Guests must be at least 18 years old.
Details on the closing night special event and new location will be available at www.clubmarcella.com.
Club Marcella is open at 9:30 p.m. this Thursday, Friday and Saturday.