Issue:  Vol. 47 / No. 38 / 21 September 2017
 

Effort on to save Boom Boom Room

NEWS


The Boom Boom Room is located inside the Coast Inn in Laguna Beach.
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The campaign to save the famous Boom Boom Room, a Southern California gay club for the past 60 years, is gathering some steam.

The "Save the Boom" campaign announced recently that it has garnered the support of Los Angeles City Council member Bill Rosendahl, the first openly gay man elected to city council.

The grassroots campaign to save the Boom Boom Room, a historic dance club located inside the Coast Inn in Laguna Beach, started this year after a gay city resident read in a newspaper that it was going to be sold to a billionaire from Beverly Hills who reportedly wanted to make it into an 11-room hotel and restaurant.

"Last fall when I read that, I began talking to some of the gay business owners in town," said Fred Karger, founder of the Save the Boom campaign. "They were the first ones to explain to me that if the Boom were to close that it could be the end of gay life in Laguna," Karger explained.

Karger lamented the possible loss of the establishment, which got its name from its early patrons who were servicemembers. According to Karger's Web site it became a major destination for Southern California's gay community beginning in the 1950s.

"It really is the cornerstone of gay life in Laguna, and if it were to close then Laguna Beach could easily go the way of Santa Barbara. That beautiful beach town 90 miles north of Los Angeles used to have three gay bars. Slowly they all closed and the gay community left along with them. Now there is not one gay bar in Santa Barbara and not much in the way of gay residents and visitors," said Karger.

Karger said he decided to get involved and started the grassroots effort to help convince city leaders to help work with the property owner to keep the Boom a gay club.

According to a Los Angeles Times article the new property owner, Steven Udvar-Hazy, has not provided details of plans for the building

"We don't have many landmarks in our civil rights movement, so our clubs and bars which have long been our gathering points really take on that landmark status," Karger said.

Rosendahl said he was happy to help.

"I have been going to Laguna Beach since 1981," stated Rosendahl. "I want to continue to come back to the Laguna I know and love just as I have been doing for the past 25 years. This club and hotel are an integral part of the community and they should be there for future generations," he said.

He added that he hoped Laguna Beach officials would support the effort to save the club.

"Laguna has always been a special place to me for a lot of reasons. It is known worldwide as a wonderful, compassionate city that has embraced diversity for over 100 years. I hope that Laguna Beach city leaders will help us in our campaign," Rosendahl said.

The Boom Boom Room is steeped in history. It is said to be the oldest continuously operating gay bar in the western United States and is viewed as a landmark by the gay community.

"I started going to the Boom Boom Room in the mid-1970s right after moving to Southern California," stated Karger. "Laguna Beach was always a welcoming place to visit 30 years ago and remains so today. I have made many friends there and it truly is an oasis of tolerance and understanding in the middle of Orange County."

Karger noted that Laguna Beach has long had a large, active gay community and said the city is supportive.

Meanwhile, Rosendahl is serving in his first term on the LA City Council – he was elected in 2005. He joins former Laguna Beach City Council member and three-time mayor, Robert F. Genty as co-chair of the Save The Boom effort.

"I am so pleased to serve with Bill Rosendahl," said Gentry. "He is a bold, courageous and decisive leader and I am honored to serve side by side with him to help preserve this landmark. I am hopeful that we can help create a public private partnership with the city, the property owner, and the gay community to preserve not only this building but gay life in Laguna Beach."

Gentry served on the Laguna Beach City Council from 1982 to 1994 and was the first openly gay mayor in the United States.

Karger said he is currently in the midst of a summer-long petition drive to get 5,000 signatures from residents and visitors who want to save the landmark. More information on the Boom Boom Room and the campaign to save it can be viewed at www.savetheboom.com.






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