About a year ago, the future of Flagstaff’s iconic Museum Club looked uncertain. The taxidermy shop turned honky tonk spot, turned bar and dancehall had just closed its doors--a move that occurred almost overnight and to the shock of its longtime patrons. But, it was Dru Douthit who, in December 2017 swooped in and purchased the bar with a transition so seamless it’s easy to forget the place closed at all.
“When I reopened it I wanted to keep it the same,” Douthit said. “I tried to go back to doing local and regional music every weekend and bringing in the bigger acts, too.”
Originally known as “The Zoo,” the building itself was finished in 1931, when Dean Eldredge opened it as a museum and taxidermy shop. When he passed away it was converted into a honky tonk bar. It remained a country music dance hall through the 50s and 60s when then owners Don and Thorna Scott brought in the likes of Wynn Stewart and Willie Nelson.
Cut a couple of owners ahead and the establishment remains a mainstay along Route 66.
Part of Douthit’s commitment to the Museum Club legacy was in maintaining one of its defining features: Dance.
Every Tuesday the bar plays host to intermediate and advanced line dance lessons. Thursdays are reserved for beginning line dancing courses, which often draw up to 50 people or more, Douthit said. And on weekends as well as during the week, the bar hosts live music; Local bands as well as national and regional acts.
Wednesdays play host to the popular event known as Dimes where patrons can purchase beer for ten cents and dance the night away.
“Dimes is a lot of fun,” said Douthit, who attended the event for the first time in 2007 as an NAU student. It was Douthit’s time spent at the Museum Club during his student years led him to purchase it.
It’s near impossible to walk into the Museum Club on any given night and not find people on the dance floor--about 500 square feet in size according to Douthit’s estimation and made of all original hardwood.
“It’s such a historic warm atmosphere and we try to promote safe fun--really is what [the Museum Club’s] charm comes down to for me; the historic feel, the warmth.”