Filed Under Entertainment

Dixie Club (site)

The establishment on East Douglas Alley was one of the first Black-owned clubs in Reno.

The Dixie Club, also called the Dixie Social Club, opened at 218 East Douglas Alley in the early 1930s. The first reference to it appears in the local newspapers in 1931. The establishment was known from the beginning to be patronized primarily by the Black community, at a time when the majority of Reno's casinos, clubs, restaurants, and lodgings did not welcome them. By 1932, it was owned by Lou LaCou and John Smith.

The club was located in an older brick building that fronted East Commercial Row, where the tracks of the Virginia & Truckee Railroad ran close by. As a result, patrons entered the Dixie Club at its south entrance on Douglas Alley.

Like many other clubs and taverns in Reno, the Dixie Club was frequently raided by federal officers during Prohibition. After repeal, it became a lively nightspot, offering "home cooked meals" including Southern fried chicken and Creole gumbo prepared by Lena Milton, who was well known as a cook for several local households, presumably white.

It was also known for its entertainment. Taking the stage was Frank Martin and his Rhythm Rockets, touted as "one of the best orchestras in Reno," featuring "Earl Brussard swinging at the trumpet and also Miss Mabel Hunter, the Queen of the Rumba," who was also known for her "famous Shako Dance."

The club went through several managers in the 1940s, including J.T. Needham, who also ran the nearby Black and Tan Club. It was licensed for poker, 21, slots, and craps from 1943 to 1949. Like many local businesses, the Dixie Club also sponsored a baseball team that played against other community and regional teams in the 1930s and 1940s.

In 1945, one of the club's dealers, William "Bill" Bailey, was stabbed by one of the club's patrons. Although severely wounded, Bailey recovered and went on to run the nearby Peavine Club and then Club Harlem, which was located next door to the Dixie Club.

In 1949, the Dixie Club's owner, Elmo Butler, passed away, and the popular spot never reopened.

Images

Dixie Club advertisement, 1937
Dixie Club advertisement, 1937 An advertisement in 1937 promotes the Dixie Club's music and food. Source: Reno Evening Gazette Date: January 13, 1937
Entertainment and Dining
Entertainment and Dining An advertisement for the Dixie Club in 1939 touts the house orchestra, Frank Martin and His Four Rhythm Rockets, as well as the house dining specialties, Southern fried chicken and Creole gumbo. Source: Reno Evening Gazette Date: November 18, 1939

Location

218 East Douglas Alley, Reno, Nevada

Metadata

Alicia Barber, “Dixie Club (site),” Reno Historical, accessed June 20, 2024, https://renohistorical.org/items/show/264.