Explore the Main Club

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By Felicity Bosk

 

Tower Ave. is home to many of Superior’s bars. Perhaps the most famous of which is the Main Club. It was opened in July of 1997 in a building built in 1926. It is a gay bar and far from Superior’s first. It is owned and operated by Bob Jansen.

Bob Jansen standing behind the bar. Photo by Felicity Bosk | Explore Superior

Bob Jansen standing behind the bar. Photo by Felicity Bosk | Explore Superior

The original Main Bar was located in North Superior. The evening before opening people were inside setting up when the police came. They took away their liquor license because people were in the bar after hours. It took six months of working with the mayor and a city counselor to get their liquor license back and reopen the Main Bar.

In the space the Main Club now occupies, there was originally a meat market. It has been several bars over the years: The Red Door, Circus Circus, Bunny Waterhouse, Frankenstein, and Popeyes. Popeyes was sold to Jansen in 1997 after the Main Bar burnt down.

“I taught at St. Scholastica but they fired me because I was gay,” said Jansen. “I got a year’s salary in the settlement and I decided to open a bar with it. I didn’t feel that another college would hire me. I wanted to open a bar where things were positive.”

Jansen defined a gay bar as “a place where you feel comfortable with being gay and that the décor and the people are accepting and understanding, and they’ll support the community.”

When the Main Club was opening, a lot of people were upset. Mary Gudowski, who had owned Popeyes said “people were mad the gay bar was moving downtown. I had people coming in absolutely swearing at me about a gay bar moving in downtown. No body seemed cared anymore after it opened.”

Jansen has seen less people come to the Main Club in recent years because people are able to meet other people of their sexual orientation online instead of going to certain bars. Also with marriage being equal in the United States, people find themselves comfortable going to any bar.

Jansen talked about the other gay bars that have existed around Superior. at The Douglas, Jansen said “they had a payphone that you didn’t answer. It would ring three times and it wouldn’t ring, then ring twice. Then you could answer. It was a code so the phone would only be picked up if they were familiar with the people and the code.”

At another bar called Molly’s, “Molly would put up sign that said no body contact. Women could dance with women, women could dance with men, but men couldn’t dance with men. If you did her sister would hit to separate them with a cane because they were afraid the cops would come and something would happen.”

At the Main Bar they had a patio next to the bar that people would jump over the fence of if they saw people they knew. “Now it is much more acceptable to be gay, and the internet has changed everything in life and the gay community,” said Jansen.

Bob Jansen standing behind his bar at the Main Club. Photo by Felicity Bosk | Explore Superior

Bob Jansen standing behind his bar at the Main Club. Photo by Felicity Bosk | Explore Superior

When asked his favorite thing about owning a bar Jansen said its the scotch. “I don’t like gin and I don’t like vodka, I like scotch. When you own a bar you get a discount on your drinks.” When asked about the future of the Main Club he said “I don’t know. The bar is for sale, been listed on the real estate for two years.” When asked why he wants to retire he said “I’m tired. I’ve fought the battle for over 30 years. I’m finished with my time. New young people need to fight the establishment.”

The bar is for sale through Re/Max 1, and is listed at $275,000 for 3425 square footage.

 




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