By Braeden Pelton
With more and more young people coming out as members of the LGBTQ+ community, safe spaces for these groups are becoming a necessity. Luckily, Bux Dhyne (she/they), a 41-year-old queer citizen of Grand Rapids has a solution. Dhyne is working hard to bring a new queer dry bar and entertainment venue to West Michigan, called Joule’s Molly House.
What is Joule’s Molly House?
Seeing how there isn’t a proper scene for the younger queer people due to all of the alcohol and drugs, Dhyne plans to open Joules as a proper club, just no alcohol. Between the addiction problem in the LGBTQ+ community and most places not allowing kids under 21 in, there isn’t a social scene dedicated to them.
“I want it to be this solid place for if you’re struggling with your parents (with) coming out, you can come hang out at Joule’s and have a place,” Dhyne said.
People can come in to play tabletop games, hang out with a group, or participate in any events the club has planned. Joule’s also plans to work with organizations like The Red Project, AYA Youth Collective, and Be Nice, in order to give back to the community. Read more about the Joule’s Molly House story on their website here.
What is up with the name?
When seeing a business establishment being made for a younger audience, most people don’t feel comfortable with a name that has a known drug in it. A joule is a measurement of energy and a molly house was a term for an 18th century gay bar (fitting of the victorian mad science theme).
“This is an electrically charged queer space.” Dhyne said.
Is there a theme?
Joule’s Molly House won’t be going with a traditional club look.
“We are doing this Horror, Sci-fi, Victorian inspired interior.” Dhyne said.
On the inside, the theme put together will give the appearance of a sort of mad scientist’s lab. They’ve been rolling around the idea of serving some drinks in beakers. The look includes having trinkets line the walls, hidden doors, and using vintage pieces of Uranium glass to shine under a black light to glow.
What’s on the menu?
Food wise, the club won’t be cooking, instead there will be snack food available like Pop Tarts, cookie dough, dried fruit, popcorn, and more. Vendors for their snack products are to be determined. As for drinks they will be serving pop, mocktails and drinks made with Schuil Coffee.
“They’re Grand Rapids based, and family owned, and I absolutely adore their products.” Dhyne said.
Some of the coffee will be fused with pop to make menu items like the “Cherry Dandy” or “Orange you Glad.” For the full extent of their products available at public events, you can visit the Joule’s menu page.
Will there be live performances?
The Molly House will offer a variety of live shows and events, along with acting as a traditional coffee house and club.
“I want to do more DJ nights and dancing,” Dhyne said,
There will be spoken word, open mics, drag performances, and karaoke. In addition, for those staying for the adult part of the night, they plan to bring in Burlesque shows.
What will the hours be?
Currently the plan is for the club to be open 3 p.m to 3 a.m Tuesday through Sunday. At the start of the day, they’ll be open for ages 16 and up, with a happy hour for high school age students until 5 p.m. There may be some flexibility for kids under 16 if they have a parent with them. From 11 p.m and forward the club will become 18+, with the more mature performances taking place.
Do you know what the pay will be?
With this being a dry bar, Dhyne mentioned being worried about the staff not being tipped as much so she wants to pay closer to a living wage. Part-time work will pay $13.50 an hour and full-time positions will pay $15 an hour before tips.
What is this Wooden Nickel Project?
At each event they are giving out a wooden coin with the Joule’s logo on one side, and free coffee on the other. The plan is to distribute 1,000 out to the community before opening, when they do open you can bring these in for a free drink. After they open you can buy 10 of them for $2.00 and pass them throughout the community.
“It’s something small that I can do for the community,” Dhyne said.
How close is Joule’s to opening?
The goal started at around $30,000, but at the moment, Joule’s has about $10,000 saved. But that was with basic fundraising when no one knew about Joule’s yet. With more and more people learning about the project, many more people will show up to support.
“We will be applying for a business loan, in fact in the next couple weeks I’ll be finished with the application.” Dhnye said.
The loan will be for around $50,000 but they’ll need more in order to renovate and design their space. They’re expecting to receive anywhere between $20,000 and $30,000 from their upcoming events.
Do you have an Ideal Location?
There are a couple of locations, some on the West Side, in Heartside, and in Creston, which are towards the top of their list.
“It depends on the loan and how much we get,” Dhyne said.
What has been difficult?
Opening a new business has been hard for many people during the pandemic. Finding an ideal location, having enough money, and most importantly making sure the community truly wants this are all huge needs. Dhyne admits to second guessing themself and having to go back and remember the community wants this.
As mentioned prior, a lot of the spaces that go above and beyond are way too expensive to rent, so this project really needs financial support from the community.
“I don’t have big deep pockets that I can just pull from, and open this place with,” Dhyne said.
Having a partner by their side to tag in has been extremely helpful for them. It took them a while to learn to share the responsibility with their partner, Alex, but now he is able to provide the much needed support for Dhyne.
Are there any other local spaces like this?
Grand Rapids has places like Rumors, but they’re still nothing alcohol-free. Hamburger Mary’s just closed indefinitely. Steel Cat, Kava Kasa, and Creston Brewery are all queer friendly but with those three there’s still problems.
“None of them are specifically queer-oriented” Dhyne said.
And those all still have alcohol. Our own Grand Rapids Pride Center is available to the younger groups, but that’s more of an outreach and community building effort.
How can the community help or get involved?
Joule’s will continue to hold pop-up public events, with one coming in the next couple of months. You can find these events on their Facebook page, Instagram, Twitter, or website. Merch is sold on their website too, and Patronicity is available to donate to if the swag isn’t your thing. Profits made go back into making Joule’s a reality. You can also volunteer to help with their events or even perform in one of their open mic nights by signing up here or contacting Dhyne with questions at email@example.com.