On the evening of December 26th, 2003 the Gay and Lesbian community of Greenville as well as all of Eastern North Carolina suffered a great loss. That Friday night, the show lights went out for the last time at The Paddock Club at 1008-B Dickinson Avenue in Greenville, NC. The Paddock Club served the community well for over 30 years, from July 1st, 1973 to December 26th, 2003 and was proud to be the oldest continuously operating GLBT nightclub in the state of North Carolina.
When William â€śBillâ€ť Brock changed The Paddock Club from a Country Western club to a gay club in July of 1973 it was a risky venture for him, but a great accomplishment for the Gay community. Up until that time, there was not a place nearby where the Gay community could gather to socialize and meet others with common interests without fear of recrimination. Even Bill could not have foreseen the success and respect the Paddock would develop not just in Greenville, but also across the entire state.
In 1978, The Paddock Club hosted the first annual Miss Greenville America Pageant so that local female impersonators could compete for the title of Miss North Carolina America, which was also held at The Paddock that year. The Miss North Carolina America Pageant has grown and moved on to Durham and then on to Charlotte, but the roots back in Greenville have never been forgotten. Miss Greenville is still one of the most coveted titles in the America system and the 25th Miss Greenville, Miss CC Dupree, was crowned this past June. The Miss Greenville Pageant has won the â€śMelissa Montgomery Best City Preliminary Awardâ€ť for sixteen years, which is all but three of the years the award has been given.
In addition to Bill there is another person who has been at the helm of The Paddock for 25 of the 30 years. Mr. Glen Haddock, the club manager and promoter for the Miss Greenville Pageant, has been a great friend to all and for many like a second father. Glen has worked tirelessly through the years to ensure that the tradition of excellence The Paddock is known for would continue as it did up until the very last night.
For those who were not fortunate enough to have visited The Paddock, it was a symbol for everything Greenville stood for. If you could look past the rough neighborhood, the potholes in the parking lot and the old and worn appearance, you could find some of the greatest and most supportive people anywhere in the state. Like any group of people, The Paddock had â€śclicks,â€ť but in no other bar we have seen would these groups intermingle with one another. Someone new to the bar would often be welcomed with open hearts to the true â€śGreenville Experienceâ€ť with a good time and a shoulder to cry on if needed. From far and wide people recognized that a good party was to be had in Greenville where we partied in â€śPaddock Club Style.â€ť
In the end, there were a number of factors that led to the closing of The Paddock, not the least of which was the advancing age and declining health of a man who for 30 years has carried the weight of the gay and lesbian community on his shoulders, The owner of The Paddock Club, Mr. Bill Brock. The club is also nearing the end of a multi-year lease on a building slated for demolition to make way for a road expansion.
On Friday night, December 26th, the final show of thousands was performed. Former Miss Greenvilleâ€™s Ebony Summers, Michelle Warren, and Lauren Scott as well as the current reigning CC Dupree led the club in an emotional display of support, the likes of which we hope never to have to witness again. Glen spoke to the audience with all the strength he could muster; reminding people that this is only one chapter of life ending and that others will open. Bar manager, Patrick Enderle, reiterated this point and encouraged those faithful to the end to remember the good times and keep the â€śfamilyâ€ť of Greenville alive. The teary eyed crowd responded as best it could although the mood was that of a funeral.
Although the club has closed and the Paddock family may be down, we are not out for the count. The friendships made will continue and we will carry the legacy of The Paddock Club forward with us wherever we may go. We may no longer gather on Friday and Saturday nights at 1008-B Dickinson Avenue, but in the end it is just a building and we will forever keep the legacy of The Paddock Club alive in our hearts.
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