The Jimani Lounge sits on the edge of the French Quarter just a bock away from Canal Street at the corner of Chartres Street and Iberrville.
Today the Jimani Lounge owns all three floors. However, in 1973 a separate business, the Upstairs Lounge, was on the second floor. To get to the only entrance, it was necessary to walk up a rickety set of wooden stairs. On June 24, about 60 members of the Metropolitan Community Church were there to hang out and listen to music. The MCC was the first gay church in the United States. They were celebrating the conclusion of the Gay Pride Week celebration.
According to the Jimani Lounge website, on June 24, 1973 at about 8:00 pm the downstairs buzzer announced that someone’s cab had arrived, but no one had called a cab. When the patrons opened the door, they were engulfed in flames. Wood and iron bars blocked any escapes through the windows.
The fire was so ferocious that 28 people died on the scene in the 16-minute fire. A gay man named Rodger Dale Nunez who had been thrown out of the bar earlier that night was the suspect. He was arrested and held in a psychiatric hospital. After a successful escape, he was never detained again by the New Orleans police. He continued to hustle in the French Quarter, although witnesses claimed he confessed to setting the fire at least four times.
It is not surprising given the violent deaths of so many people that paranormal investigators would assume any haunting would be related to this event. New Orleans though has many secrets and it was up to the Paranormal Society of New Orleans to unearth older and even more mysterious events.