When you walk out of your last class of the week and you have the weekend to relax and regroup, how are you going to spend it? You could sit in your apartment and study the weekend away or you could hit the town with your friends and check out one of Saint Joseph’s most exciting hot-spots, the all new Villa. When Saturday night rolls around, it’s time to put on your shiniest dress or your most colorful tie and head to The Villa.
Riding on the coattails of the closing of another alternative club, The Shaft, which closed down in late 2012, The Villa is a sophisticated rebirth of its predecessor. Located above the Buffalo Bar, this alternative nightclub, co-owned and operated by Western student Tyler Rhoad, can be found on Felix Street in downtown Saint Joseph. The club’s soft launch took place in October of 2012 and business has been booming ever since. It’s non-smoking, gay-friendly, and ideal for friends to get together to have a refined night on the town. On top of that, it’s a pursuit that is very close to its owner’s heart.
“Managing a club is how I imagine having children would be,” Rhoad said. “You are always on the run from one thing to the next.”
Open for people of all walks of life to find a place to call home, the Villa is a safe haven for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community of Saint Joseph and Rhoad is very proud of that.
“Being a business management student, I saw that there was a demand in our community for a GLBTQS (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning and Straight) club that’s high-end but still affordable and it was not being met,” Rhoad said. “What I would like others to know about the ‘alternative lifestyle’ is that we are not that much different from everyone else. We love who we love and live normal lives just like everyone else.”
Rhoad isn’t the only one keeping this new club afloat. He shares the responsibility of ownership with two others, Tracy Allen and Beth Siapnow. Beyond that, Rhoad has a staff behind him that loves what the club stands for just as much as he does.
“Not only is the Villa LGBT friendly, but it caters to a straight audience as well,” Villa waitress Robin Ussher said. “It is a nice escape where we can all unite, dance, and celebrate our differences over some cocktails.”
Taking a break from Western to own and operate The Villa, Rhoad is excited to eventually graduate. He has currently taken two semesters of school off to focus on the club full time but he only has about 35 credits left until graduation. For the time being, The Villa is taking up most of Rhoad’s time and he is adjusting to the stressful life of a business owner.
“The best part of having your own business is when people come up and experience it and have the time of their lives, knowing that you had a hand in it,” Rhoad said. “The most stressful thing, I would have to say, is keeping up with the booking of all the shows and getting all the PR done for them.”
When it comes down to it, The Villa is a hot ticket in St. Joseph and it’s the perfect place for you and your friends to feel at home, no matter what your sexual orientation may be. The club will host its grand opening on February 9 with a Mardi Gras-themed drag show. With sleek design, over the top drag shows, and a positive message to boot, The Villa is taking Saint Joseph by storm and when it’s done, there’ll be fog and glitter everywhere.
“Saint Joseph needs The Villa because it’s the only place where anyone can come and be accepted for who they are,” Rhoad said. “It can build bridges and show our similarities and not our differences.”