AP NEWS

Club Royal to return after fire: Manager

July 13, 2018 GMT

Club Royal may have burned down almost to the ground, but it will be back, the manager promises.

Ryan Wesley, the club’s general manager, went on Facebook on Wednesday to post news of the fire shortly after it started around 1 p.m at 9439 Lima Road.

“I’m completely devastated,” Wesley wrote on Facebook. “The bar is at a complete loss. We have lost our home, our safe place. These people became my family.”

Wesley told The Journal Gazette on Thursday he has no idea what caused the fire. The Fort Wayne Fire Department said the investigation was ongoing. The club was unoccupied at the time.

A video posted on Wesley’s page shows the fire started in the back of the irregularly-shaped structure. Not only was the building destroyed, but Wesley was particularly saddened by the loss suffered by three drag queens who regularly performed at the LGBTQ club.

The “house queens” : Jazmine Divine, Diamonique Marcus and Seven : lost all of their professional belongings which included makeup, costumes and hair, Wesley said. A GoFundMe page was immediately set up at J.D.S. Drag Donations and money has been coming in, he said.

“I couldn’t personally put a price on their belongings. I feel the LGBTQ community is a little bit on its own, if there is someone outside that would like to help these people,” Wesley said.

Before Club Royal opened in February, there was only one other gay club, After Dark, on the south side of Fort Wayne, Wesley said. He described his dance club as “kind of a melting pot that just brought everybody together,” including straight visitors.

Prior to Club Royal, the building was home to Le Bleu Diamond, a strip club where a shooting death took place in April of last year.

It’s unclear when the club will be able to reopen. The owner, who wished to remain anonymous, has retained Wesley to work to reopen it and is “dealing with insurance,” Wesley said

“I wish I could give Fort Wayne a definite answer,” Wesley said. “Hopefully, we’re able to find a place to throw our gay pride event July 27 and 28.” He is hoping to provide a venue for the three house queens to perform, he added. 

jduffy@jg.net