Ten years is longer than many Fresno nightclubs make it. That’s a mark The Express — a gay/lesbian-centered club on Blackstone Avenue under Highway 180 — recently hit. But it won’t make it 11 years. Not under its current regime anyway.
The Express’ ownership used New Year’s Day to announce that its club would be closing this week. On Facebook, the news was met with sadness from customers saying things like: “With no Express there’s no more gay nightlife in my eyes.”
No exact closing date was given, but the club is expected to announce a few more events before week’s end. From the announcement by Lee Morris and Steve McBride:
As we complete our 10th year in business as the operators of the historic Express Nightclub, it is with great sadness that we must call it quits. Our decision is based on a combination of a bad economy and too many nightclubs catering to our targeted customer base. We have supported the club through this time with all of our personal financial resources, and there is just nothing left to give. We have resisted the temptation to broaden our customer base, instead focusing on traditional LGBT culture and activities. It unfortunately didn’t work. Although we have held many successful events since the remodeling, it just isn’t enough to allow us to continue the operation.
When we made the decision in November 2002 to form a new nightclub in this historic location, it wasn’t done with the idea that we would make a lot of money. We thought that something in our community’s entertainment was lacking, and wanted to take a shot at providing what we thought was needed. Our friendly bartenders have provided quality beverages at competitive prices, and our DJ’s have always been dedicated and skilled entertainers. The Xotica Show by DivaX is the longest running successful weekly event in our local nightlife. We brought Club Papi events to Fresno. Our Sunday barbecue and “Half Price” nights were popular social events for many years.
The announcement goes on to say The Express will be for sale, which leaves the possibility of new life for the club.
We will be listing the Express Nightclub for sale immediately. This is a turnkey operation, complete with a liquor license, all bar equipment, sound equipment, light shows, and furniture.
At GayFresno.com, blogger Brooke offers some perspective:
It was so nice being in a place and feeling comfortable being yourself… especially somewhere local. Lee (the owner) has always donated money towards LGBT events. He has always been a big supporter of Gay Fresno and Gay Central Valley. It saddens me that we are losing such a huge person to our community and dare I say historic part of our local LGBT culture. I’ll never forget the great times had there when there really were no other options.
Club Legends and North Tower Circle are among the other gay/lesbian nightclubs in Fresno. GayFresno.com has a more complete list. Ten years ago, a loss such as this would have been crippling for the local LGBT community. It’s a testament to The Express and its legacy that in 2013, Fresno’s gay nightclub scene has as many remaining options as it does.
[photos: The Express]