Article Originally Published: buffalorising.com | by Queenseyes | March 22, 2022
Buffalo’s longest-running nightclub is preparing for its next adventure. Club owner and operator Joe “Marcella” Guagliardo is packing up his things and leaving the Theatre District, where the club has been a longstanding alt institution for upwards of three decades. But as life would have it, in order to stay current (and open), Guagliardo will reinvent the club once more – at 106 Michigan Avenue (learn more).
To that end, Guagliardo says that he is as devoted as ever to Buffalo’s dance club scene, as well as to the performers and patrons who would be distraught to see the end of Marcella. Fortunately, there is no end in sight for Marcella – just a welcome rebirth that should allow Guagliardo to further broaden his horizons. Marcella is joining a host of other entertainment destinations in the Cobblestone District and Canalside, 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 will recount. He started by telling me the new nature of downtown Buffalo, which is rapidly changing.
“Our current location? There are apartments upstairs now, and the noise from the club doesn’t mix,” stated Guagliardo. “When I opened 27 years ago there was no one living down here. At one point, we were feeding off Chippewa, but now Chippewa is all restaurants and sports bars. Now everyone is complaining about the noise in the district. Unfortunately, when you have to lower the music, people leave. Thankfully I have now found a new location where that won’t be a problem (for now). It took me two years to find the location, which is perfect. This will be my final night club. It’s also going to be the best night club – better than the one that I did in Rochester, Buffalo, and Miami. I got to build this one from scratch. It’s going to have all of the ideas that were in my head, with two large rooms, two stages, a courtyard, a patio with a summer stage… and it’s going to be in the new entertainment district.”
Talking with Guagliardo, the excitement in his voice was earnest and palpable. I could envision this new dance party mecca that he is about to unleash in Buffalo. And if you think that you already know what Marcella is all about, 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 the shows, and have fun. It’s not like 1995 when there was a need for a gay club – because of apps like Grindr, gay clubs are hurting all over the place. In Miami there used to be 20 gay clubs. Now there are three. I’m gay and I love the gay community – Marcella will always have that history of being open. It’s one of the last remaining places of this nature. We have learned how to change with the times, or we wouldn’t be around anymore. This is going to be my last hurrah – it’s going to be fabulous… people are going to love it when they see what’s going on.”
Club Marcella might not swing as alt as it used to, but it still attracts one of the most diverse crowds in Buffalo, including 18 year olds (who get ‘braceleted’ at the door, are accompanied by an adult, and are closely monitored).
“All of my clubs have always been 18 years and older,” said Guagliardo. “Nothing fills a room like young energy. The younger people can’t drink and they don’t drink, and they respect that because they want to come back. They follow the rules. They also add so much to the club. It’s another reason that Marcella is so special.”
Once open, Club Marcella will be available for private parties, including birthdays, holiday parties, bar/bat mitzvahs, holiday parties, etc.
Club Marcella’s final day at its Theatre District location is Saturday, March 26, upon which time Guagliardo plans on throwing a send-off ‘rager.’
“I believed in Buffalo in 1995 and I believe in it even more today,” Guagliardo said. “This is not the end; it is the beginning of the next chapter. We are bringing a Miami-style night club to our great city and with our help, the Cobblestone District will continue to evolve as Buffalo’s premiere live entertainment district.”
Guagliardo will not be the only emotional one at the send-off party. Over the years, Marcella has amassed a solid contingent of followers who will be rallying behind Guagliardo and his club.
“March 26th will be quite emotional for me – I performed there opening night in July 1995 after winning a DJ contest in their club in Rochester,” said Christopher Moody aka Xotec. “I played a pretty popular live-air broadcast there in 1996, which was the start of my vocal house music popularity in WNY and Toronto. Other than traveling to play clubs, raves, and events locally and internationally, I have been performing at Marcella’s for almost 27 years, with some gaps in-between! I believe Charles Masters and I were both there opening night; we will be performing one more time (in the house room) for the final night at Pearl Saturday March 26th. I will probably be a weepy mess. I also met my ex-wife at Marcella’s (Erin), which resulted in two beautiful kids Rona and Regan (now 21 and 19). That’s why ‘Joey’ is considered my kids’ ‘godmother.’ Joey, Mike, Richard, and team have been a huge part of my life, as has Club Marcella. However, whether it’s Pearl/Main Street, or the new location (it’s going to blow minds), Marcella’s will always remain a huge part of my family.”
And that pretty much sums up what his family thinks about 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 get their ya-yas out. A place that is ever-evolving and overly stimulating. A place that we should all be thankful to (still) have in Buffalo.
“I’m an entertainer,” said Guagliardo. “Just think of the memories – the old friends. It’s 27 years of history in Downtown Buffalo. Now I want to create new memories… I’m ready to do it again!”
The new Club Marcella is set to open May of 2022.
Club Marcella, Western New York’s premiere 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 Theatre Place after 27 years in Buffalo’s Theatre District. Construction is already underway at Club Marcella’s new Cobblestone District location, which will open in May of 2022.
Doors will open at 9:30 p.m. with performances by Keke Valasquez-Lord and the cast of Life’s a Drag at 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 Live DJs Devious, Adam Barrett, and Kyle Carson. Club Marcella is open until 4 a.m. Patrons must be 18 or older.
Details on the closing night special event and new location will be available at www.clubmarcella.com.
Club Marcella is open at 9:30 pm this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.