Beginning the evening of July 4th, Ignite Murfreesboro will orient itself toward the LGBT customer, a move that both the owner and promoter anticipate will soon expand to become Murfreesboro's first full-time LGBT bar and nightclub.

“I’ve got five hundred ideas popping off every second,” Club Promoter Mark Gunn told Out & About earlier this week. It’s easy to believe him. He was brought in by Ignite Murfreesboro approximately three weeks ago to help shape the young establishment’s vision of LGBT-friendly programming. Since then, he has spearheaded Ignite’s ongoing LGBT Thursdays event. On June 28 Gunn announced via Facebook that Ignite will become a full time LGBT bar and club starting on July 1st.

Club owner Troy Janes is less specific about when the transition will be complete. “In building an empire you have to move one step at a time,” he told O&A. Throughout July his 4700 square foot venue will certainly be taking steps in that direction, beginning with an LGBT 4th of July celebration and debuting LGBT-friendly "Glow in the Dark" Fridays.

Janes might be familiar to some members of Murfreesboro’s LGBT community for a string of drag shows at Bongo Johnny’s, a bar he owned in the 1990s. “We were doing drag shows in 1998,” he said. “I’m not sure if anyone else was doing [drag shows in Murfreesboro] at that time.” He laughed. “It was considered pretty racy.” No stranger to the bar and restaurant business, Janes has been in the industry for eighteen years. “I’ve been kicked in the face and I’ve learned some lessons,” said the club owner.

Promoter Mark Gunn cites famed Nashville LGBT venue The Connection, which shut its doors in 2005, among others as inspirations for Ignite Murfreesboro. According to him, the success of Ignite Murfreesboro will be contingent upon the support of the local LGBT community. “We have to have their support before we move forward,” Janes agreed. Both men sound optimistic. “People are talking,” Gunn told O&A. “There’s nothing like this in Murfreesboro. The staff is 100% on board. The gay and lesbian community will support it -- we just have to get the word out.”

“What I like about the [LGBT] community,” Janes says, speaking generally, “is how they support each other. It’s phenomenal. It restores your faith in humanity.”

The word that Gunn and Janes are currently trying to spread includes information about Ignite Murfreesboro affordable cover ($10), drink specials, a fully-lit parking lot and a strict “no haters” policy. “I take care of my customers,” Janes said. “We have great security, and no one who has been drinking is going to be getting behind the wheel of a car.”

In the future, Gunn, Janes and Ignite Murfreesboro dream of LGBT band and singer-songwriter nights, hard-body contests, indoor-outdoor foam parties, and big name drag performers joining Natalie Page and her cast on stage. While he’s mum on the details, Gunn tells us that talks with drag performers from across the country are already taking place. “There’s nothing like this in Murfreesboro,” he said.

Troy Janes said he’s “baffled” that the city of over a hundred thousand people has never had a gay bar. “We have a chance to make history. It’s about time, in 2014, for Murfreesboro’s [LGBT community] to have a club. This could be bigger than we ever thought it could be.”

Mark Gunn puts it another way. “We’re going to invade the club with homosexuals.” 

See accompanying photo gallery: Murfreesboro bar eyes LGBT conversion beyond Thursday, Friday nights




This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

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