A couple of weeks ago, I posted my recollections about my first time dressed up as Allison in public. I noted that the night out was at Club 5, a long-standing LGBT nightclub here in Madison. I noted that the current owner of the club, now known as FIVE Nightclub, had announced that it would close its doors the final weekend of April, notably citing “a spirit crushing rent” (their words) as a factor.
Needless to say, for all FIVE Nightclub meant to the LGBT community in Madison and Wisconsin, the news of the club’s impending closure led to many people offering their thoughts, recollections, and well wishes to club ownership. The outpouring got the notice of FIVE’s landlords, who negotiated a new plan with ownership to allow FIVE to stay open. While a new loan was secured, there was still a little bit left out of reach, and that’s why, with management’s blessing, a GoFundMe campaign was started to fund that last mile of finances. Needless to say, the outpouring of emotion from FIVE’s fans led to an outpouring of cash to the campaign, either via direct donations or through other means (club cover charges, tips to performers, t-shirts, etc.). As the campaign’s page notes, if a bunch of homophobes could come together and save a pizza parlor in Indiana, so, too, could the gay community unite and save a respected, open-minded club in Wisconsin.
Was the campaign to help save FIVE successful? Yes, indeed! Last Saturday (April 25), the night before FIVE was to have closed its doors to the public forever, club owner Dave Eick emotionally and happily announced to the assembled crowd at the club that the campaign reached its $40,000 goal, thanks to a pretty big surge in the previous 24 hours. The video of the happy moment is below courtesy of Our Lives Madison‘s Facebook feed (or click this link if the video below doesn’t work for you here). Be forewarned, though, that since it’s at a crowded bar on a Saturday night, the crowd noise in the background is pretty loud. If loud noises aren’t your thing, here’s a thank you Dave Eick shared to his Facebook followers.
With FIVE now remaining open, I must confess that I never got the chance to visit FIVE again during what would have been its final two weeks as I had been hoping to do. Thankfully, the fear of FIVE’s closure is now longer a possibility, meaning I will still have the chance to go back there someday soon, without guilt and, since it’s a welcoming club, without any fear or prejudice. I’m not sure when that will be, but I can’t wait.
While one club here in Madison will remain open, another club will still be closing. Inferno Nightclub (“Not Your Average Night”), which is located on the east side (just a stone’s throw from the eastern shores of Lake Mendota), will close its doors on Saturday, May 2. Inferno has been known for music and concerts, most notably though not exclusively of the electronica and thrasher rock genres. Though not specifically catering to the LGBTQ community, Inferno has had a reputation of being LGBTQ-friendly (crossdressers and otherwise), especially through its hosting of burlesque events, themed costumed nights, and, if it’s (*ahem*) your type of thing, “Leather + Lace” nights. To get a sense of the vibe inside Inferno, this Isthmus article from 2012 features an image from one of its parties. Better yet (and if you’re ready for a video that’s not safe for work), this promo video shows some L+L scenes.
After 19 years in business, however, Inferno’s ownership has decided to close the club. No high rent concerns or fundraising drives to save the club here; just a message from the club’s owner, Alistar Loveless, stating he’s just “looking forward to what life will slap me across the face with next,” as he says in the video below. His message is a pretty simple and quite classy “thank you” to everyone who supported Inferno the past 18-1/2 years (“It’s been a refuge [for some]… a second home, a creative home”). It’s also a pretty funny farewell if you stay for the outtakes in the last 2 minutes or so (he busts a pretty cool move, too). Though I admit I’ve never been to Inferno (kinky stuff has never been my thing, sorry), I bet it has been one classy dive for those who frequented it all these years. Best of luck to Mr. Loveless and his staff on their next endeavors.