Of all the legendary clubs in South OC, few have a history that echoes as loudly as The Boom Boom Room in Laguna Beach. The oldest gay bar in the Western United States found its home inside the Coast Inn (the city’s second oldest hotel built in 1927) off of PCH. Though we’ve detailed its infamous history lamented its demise for about a decade, tomorrow night—for one night only—the Boom is back in action.
Thanks to concerted efforts between the City of Laguna Beach and restaurateurs that include Mark DePalma, the club returns for New Year’s Eve and possibly celebrate the birth of a new chapter in its storied history if De Palma has anything to say about it.
“If I have an opportunity to put something together at the Boom and create something again that would be great,” De Palma says.
For the one night celebration on NYE from 8p.m.-2 a.m., the local restaurant will once again have a line around the block that represents a mix of first timers to the Boom and vets who’d been grinding and throwing back shots in the club for decades.
Fred Karger, a tireless advocate for saving the Boom Boom Room before its closure, once noted that “the Boom Boom Room represented the acceptance and openness of Laguna Beach long before it was acceptable to be gay.”
The Boom Boom Room closed in 2007 after a Beverly Hills billionaire purchased the Coast Inn. At the time, it needed (and still needs) revitalizing love, and the new owner hoped to create an upscale boutique hotel. Unfortunately those plans fell through and the property was put back on the market. In 2013, Laguna Beach locals, Marcella and Chris Dornin, stepped in to buy the Inn with plans to redevelop the property to its former glory, as well as creating a tribute to The Boom. The proposed 24-room hotel would include three restaurants, one of which would be rooftop based. The revitalization project continues to meet with snags, both with surrounding neighbors and the Laguna Beach Planning Commission.
“I hope all these issues will eventually be ironed out,” says DePalma. “Redevelopment of the property would give that whole area life again. But, at least we’ve got that life for one night.”
Though it might surprise some that a straight male restauranteur like De Palma has been at the helm of the Boom’s temporary resurrection, anyone who knows him is aware of his deep roots in the gay community as a restaurant owner and an advocate for AIDS research. Since losing his brother to the disease 25 years ago, De Palma and his wife have been generous donors to the AIDS Services Foundations (ASF) and dedicated volunteers for AIDS hospice care in Long Beach.
But his primary passion he says is hosting events that bring people from all walks of life together.
The Boom was friendly to anyone and everyone, and many a night would see as many straight people in the lively bar as gays. Tomorrow night’s cadre of male and female go-go dancers will definitely offer some equal opportunity ogling. In addition to the dance party with L.A.’s DJ Andrew Blunk, the event’s $40 cover includes includes tray-passed hors d’oeuvres provided by De Palma’s catering company, Catering By Marks and a champagne toast to usher in the New Year. A full bar will also be in play with premium and top-shelf brands for $10 drink tickets.
For DePalma, this new incarnation of the club is all about coming together to celebrate an icon that, if it ever fully revived, could really help make Laguna Beach nightlife great again.
“We’re not going after strictly gay, we’re not going after strictly straight. Because towards the end, the Boom was becoming a very mixed crowd,” De Palma says. “It’s not about gay, it’s not about straight, it’s about people coming together to have a good time.”
For full details and to RSVP for The Boom Boom Room’s NYE party click here