Leather and Lace: The Inferno's final event, planned for Saturday, May 2, sold out quickly.
As patrons of FIVE Nightclub celebrate a successful crowdfunding effort to keep one of Madison’s few gay clubs open, Madisonians are saying goodbye to another staple club this weekend, Inferno Nightclub. For two decades, Inferno has left its mark as a club that catered to alternative entertainment. The club will close its doors on May 2 after a final “Leather and Lace” event that sold out quickly.
"In all honesty, Inferno was the place where a lot of us grew up," says DJ Eurotic, aka Matt Fanale, the club’s spokesperson, in a statement released to the press. "It’s where we found our voices. It’s where we made lifelong friends."
Fanale spent nearly 18 years working for the club, which is located on Commercial Drive in the village of Maple Bluff. He reminisces about packed performances in many genres, from comedy to burlesque and spoken word. He credits his lifetime of memories to club owner, Apollo Marquez.
“[He] turned what was once a lovably grungy dive into a ridiculously respectable venue, hosting club nights for every left-of-mainstream style imaginable over the years, from breakcore to dancehall to jungle and techno,” Fanale wrote. “There was a time when a lot of local venues wouldn’t book strange alternative acts. Apollo did.”
In the statement, Marques wrote that Maple Bluff’s laws have made it difficult for Inferno to compete with downtown venues. Maple Bluff has laws regarding alcohol sales that differ from Madison’s. The village allows liquor stores to stay open past 9 p.m., but does not allow a nightclub to host audiences that include ages 18-21, like many Madison clubs.
"It's all still very surreal for me, and in the end it all came to a close very quickly; [but] it's time to move on to the next thing," Marques wrote. "This building was built in 1939 and has had its share of previous owners take from it and not give back. Numerous hours of work have been stuck into the property, but it still needs a lot more. Time to move on."
The building housing the Inferno may be demolished as part of a proposed redevelopment for the Lakewood Plaza Shopping Center on Sherman Avenue.
Marquez could not be reached for comment.