Mélange Dance Company Presents: The UpStairs Lounge

Friday-Sunday, June 21-23, 2024
8:00PM Performance
Sliding Scale: $10-75
*none turned away for lack of funds, no pressure*

“Until the 12th of never, I’ll still be loving you.” The songs that once played on the Jukebox at the UpStairs Lounge hold memories made by the eclectic humans who sought refuge at this safe haven for the gay community in 1970’s New Orleans. In 1973, an arsonist set fire to the lounge, claiming the lives of 32 patrons while injuring many others, becoming the largest mass murder of gay people in 20th century America. Though they were largely forgotten by the public and city officials in the tragedy’s aftermath due to ignorance and hate, we choose to remember them, as the beautifully gay people they were. Mélange Dance Company is honored to present The UpStairs Lounge at The Marigny Opera House to commemorate the 51st anniversary of the arson and uplift the stories of the patrons who gave UpStairs life and a legacy that lives on, featuring live music for the first time!

Become swept away into the dimly lit quirky three room bar with red flocked wallpaper and kitschy decor, and enter a world where the UpStairs Lounge patrons were free to live, love, and even worship freely. It was a place where up those stairs into a hidden oasis, they could dance and hold one another without fear of arrest. Immersion of dynamic choreography, theatrical storytelling, projection, set decor, and live music reveal multifaceted stories of a queer community who did what they had to, to survive, and how they found joy and love in a world that saw them as criminals. Meet Buddy Rasmussen, the heart of the lounge, who went from military discharge to tending bar UpStairs, and heroically leading many to safety during the fire. His partner was Adam, who was shy and intellectual, loved performing at the back theater of the lounge, yet struggled internally. John and Jane, a loving husband and wife whose love endured in an atypical relationship. Reggie and Regina, heart achingly poignant, and timeless love story that persists against all odds. Longtime loves Mitch and Hourace and new connections Larry Raybourne and Leon Maples, old pals like Luther and Jeanne are among winding stories that unfold to become fatefully intertwined on that night. The tiny tricycle races, drag for charity performances, Metropolitan Community Church gatherings, Sunday Beer Busts, and wild times live on through the souls who united in song nightly, proudly singing United We Stand, words we can all live by. Join us as we honor the UpStairs Lounge patrons with caution and care, celebrate their lives, and reflect on their legacy, and how their stories will guide ours. Until the 12th of never, and that’s a long, long time.

Choreography and Conceptualization: Monica Ordoñez

Aaron Brewer
Adrienne Simmons
Alexa Erck Lambert
Cade Garafola
Clinton Parfait
Eddie Lockwood
Edward Spots
Elijah Krieger
Jakki Kalogridis
Jay Canova
Joel Hochman
Joel Sunsin
Julia Lemann
Justice Hues
Kristina Ganssle
Lauren Saizan
Sophia Rose
Ti Louis
Ty Robins

Musical Director: Ian Orr
Music performed and arranged by: The Orrchestra
Ian Orr – vocals, bass
Nick Hatcher – keyboard, sound design
Michael Donahoe – guitar, vocals
Nicholas Yetter – piano
Tanner Guss – drums, percussion
Sarah Mahoney – vocals
Rayshaughn Armant – vocals

Costumes: Jennifer Johnson

The UpStairs Lounge is supported by the generosity of the New Orleans Tourism and Cultural Fund and also in part by the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, in cooperation with the Louisiana State Arts Council, as administered by the RAC. Funding has also been provided by the National Endowment of the Arts.

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Friday - Sunday Jun 21 - 23 2024


8:00 pm
Advance Donations / Tickets