In the sixteen months that Ruby Deluxe has been open, it has made its mark amongst the other bars dotting Raeigh’s Fayetteville Street for its attitude toward potential clientele: anyone is welcome to walk through the doors of this bustling night spot, as long as they meet two requirements – a $10 membership fee, and the ability not to be a jerk.
Okay, the jerk part is subjective.
What Ruby actually offers to its patrons is an atmosphere of inclusiveness that reaches far outside the frat-bro-type parties ringing in the New Year in other clubs around town. Catering to a progressive clientele that would scoff at someone shocked by gay dance nights or drag shows, it’s not a gay-friendly bar so much as just a friendly bar.
It’s precisely this nuanced attitude that Breniecia Reuben – better known to fans around the Triangle as DJ Luxe Posh – says is the club’s most important attribute. Gone are the days when events like Saturday’s ViZ Queer Dance Party and New Year’s Eve Celebration could only be held in a city’s “Rainbow District,” as Reuben points out; the party’s title is more a description of the artists being played than an indicator of who will be invited onto the dance floor.
“All it means is that we’ll be playing a lot of music that is queer-friendly, and a lot of the artists that we play identify as queer,” Reuben explains. “It’s funny, because it pretty much ends up that we play basically any artist that anyone requests, but it’s supposed to be a sign that it won’t be the typical gay club playlist. It’s not a gay party, it’s just gay-focused. I’m straight, but I’m still playing the show.”
The atmosphere at Ruby on any given weekend is a welcome change from what the young DJ has seen both inside and outside of many nightclubs around the Triangle. While mentioning a recent trip with friends to a buzzed-about new hotspot on Glenwood South, she recounts how the club used their ‘no athletic wear’ dress code to stop a male member of her entourage who happened to be wearing sneakers from entering the establishment. Reuben says she looked around the venue to find that other men inside were wearing athletic shoes.
She says it’s just another example of the dichotomy that can be found within her line of work: some clubs in Raleigh are happy to book a black female DJ to play, while seemingly trying to bar black customers from entering their establishments.
“Ruby is my favorite bar to DJ at in the Triangle, just because the owners and staff there have worked so hard to make it a safe place for everyone in Raleigh,” Reuben says. “I love all of the other bars in Raleigh, but they are just different. I’ve DJed some places in Raleigh where frat guys would throw glasses of wine at me for playing songs that they didn’t like. Sometimes people feel like paying a cover gives them the right to yell terrible things at me or harass my friends, but Ruby is all-inclusive. There are plenty of places in Raleigh that just aren’t comfortable for people like me to hang out in. Ruby does a good job of attempting to make a place for every type of person to be comfortable when they’ve never had a place to be comfortable together.”
Reuben has seen her share of hostilities while DJing in the Triangle over the past eight years. From lugging her PA system and turntable into strangers’ living rooms for small parties, to playing private functions at Raleigh country clubs that had only recently began admitting black members, the young performer quickly learned that female DJs can’t take performance opportunities for granted.
“I’m lucky enough that, when I started out, there were a ton of female-friendly clubs in Chapel Hill that gave me a chance,” Reuben says. “The venue would give you a stage to play, but you had to create your own party, so the first shows I helped create were Lady DJ parties. Chapel Hill and Durham clubs have a lot of female DJs play shows, but that’s something that Raleigh has always lacked.
“There are so many people in the Triangle that make good music, and so many of us are women. I’ve seen people make comments where they try to defend themselves by saying, ‘Oh, there’s just not enough good female talent around here.’ If you really believe that, it’s on you to foster that community by helping people out. I’ve finally reached a point where I don’t expect some of these guys to change. When I see a show that is being advertised with only male DJs, I’ve started making a point of not attending. I’m just not going to waste my time on promoters who are clearly misogynistic.”
What: ViZ Queer Dance Party: New Year’s Eve Celebration, with DJs Luxe Posh & DNLTMS
When: 10 p.m. Saturday
Where: Ruby Deluxe, 414 Fayetteville St., Raleigh
Cost: No cover ($10 membership fee)
Info: 919-666-6969 or facebook.com/RubyDeluxeRaleigh