History of Gay and Lesbian Life in Wisconsin - Businesses - Bars and Clubs

Planet Circus/ Club Circus/
Circus/ Circus-Circus
Location: 219 S. 2nd St., Milwaukee WI


July 1976
July-Aug 1979

Male/ Female
Dance/ disco/ bar

View the Images page.



The Planet Circus began advertising in July 1976 as "Milwaukee's Newest and Finest Disco". It was the boom disco years, and patrons of the Factory were both excited and skeptical about the opening of another disco/ dance club. This same location had in the previous 12 months held 2 other bars, another disco dance bar called Gary's Dance Club from June to August 1976, then Mister Z's. This venture was that of two men, George Prentice and Jim Seeboth.

But Circus was here to stay, and was a smash success (although there were frequent name adjustments, to variations of "Circus": from Planet Circus, it became Club Circus, Circus-Circus, and simply Circus).

The August 1976 issue of the local "GLIB Guide" describes the business as follows: "Near to the Oregon House, a new disco called Circus-Circus is also open for business. What was formerly Gary's and Mr. Z's has enlarged the bar slightly and improved the decor. Female disc-jockeys are also featured." The Guide in the same issue sums it up: "Lively nightly crowd jams newly-refurbished den. Young. Disco your body up; lounge down; drinks in the middle."

In October 1978 the bar took out a 2-page advertisement explaining a transfer in ownership: George Prentice and Jim Seeboth had sold the business to managers Mike and Rick, and it would re-open on Wed. November 1st as "Club Circus".

Club Circus advertised for about 6 months, but after an ad in the July-August issue of "Milwaukee Calendar", the bar stopped advertising and disappeared from LGBT bar media.

(Starting in August 1980, a new bar "Trash" began advertising in the same location, and that bar quickly morphed into "Club 219". See the Club 219 page for information about this bar's later years.)


Recollections: The following are recollections of others who have been kind enough to submit their personal memories to the webmaster. You are welcome to do the same!

      Circus - Was off and on popular dance bar. Remember guys doing line dances to songs like The Hustle and Ease On Down The Road.
                                      - R Chris

Article and Photos
(Gay Business Guide, 1977, pg. 10)
(Gay Business Guide, 1977, pg. 11)
Interior photo
(front bar, from entrance, facing west- stairs to dance floor in background, door down to lower lounge at far right)
(Gay Business Guide, 1977)
Interior photo
(front bar, facing southeast; womens room door to far left)
(Gay Business Guide, 1977)
Interior photo
(dance floor, from SW corner, main bar down steps in background)
(Gay Business Guide, 1977)
Interior photo
(dance floor, facing bar at west end)
(Gay Business Guide, 1977)

Advertisement in Oct. 1978
explaining ownership change
(Milw. Calendar vol 1 no. 18, pgs. 10-11)

Tea Dance advert., 1990

Closeup of entrance

Customer card #376, c1977

Customer card #1361, c1977

Temporary Membership card #975
for new 'Club Circus', Dec. 1978

Credits: web site concept, contents, design and arrangement by Don Schwamb.
Last updated: May-2023.

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