A brief history of The Ritz nightclub

Did you know that The Ritz in downtown San Jose’s SoFA District was once an X-rated theater? And also an alternative music dance club with “secret gay nights?”

The Ritz's marquee displaying "Lacuna Coil, The Birthday Massacre, Blind Channel, and Edge of Paradise."

The Ritz has gone through many different phases.

Ah, The Ritz. The lively nightclub is definitely a SoFA staple. But, did you know that pre-2015, the scene was much different inside?

The original building opened in 1948 as a garage, but was soon renamed “Gay Theatre,” serving as one of the city’s main movie theaters. In the 1970s, the theater took on a new persona — the X-rated Pussycat Theater.

The adult theater lived on until 1989, when F/X took over as part of an effort to revitalize downtown. The new nightclub held events ranging from alternative music dance parties to “secret gay nights” and costume parties. Even a then-unknown Gwen Stefani made an appearance.

F/X’s stint ended in 1995, then came the Usuals, Spy, Pete Escovedo’s Latin Jazz Club, and Angels. The venue closed for seven years after Angels, but then rose again as The Ritz we all know and love in 2015.

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