Monthlong Event Series Highlighting LGBT Club Life in Newark to Open Oct. 11

Rutgers University-Newark and Yendor Productions to Honor Newark’s LGBT Club, Ballroom, and Nightlife Scenes with “Sanctuary”

A series of art, literary, and historical events this October aims to celebrate the historical role of Newark’s social spaces as sites of LGBT solidarity and sustenance, while also beginning an outreach to LGBT people and their supporters in every ward in Newark.                                                             

“Sanctuary: A History of Queer Club Spaces in Newark” is a collaboration between Rutgers University-Newark’s Queer Newark Oral History Project and the Newark-based visual and performing arts company Yendor Productions. Most events are free and all are open to the public.

“Sanctuary” begins with an art exhibit on the theme of club space as sanctuary, at 765 Broad St., Newark, 7th floor. The following week, on Thursday, Oct. 16 from 7- 9 p.m., Rutgers University-Newark will host “Out in Newark!  Queer Club Spaces as Sanctuary,” a panel discussion featuring some of Newark’s leading nightlife promoters and performers. The event will be held in the Paul Robeson Campus Center, located at 350 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.  Participants will include former patrons and employees of the iconic Club Zanzibar, a member of the House of Jourdan, the founders of B.L.I.S.S. Entertainment and Ms. Theresa Productions, two of Newark’s lesbian nightlife entertainment companies, as well as other legendary and contemporary Newark-based LGBT and allied influencers.  Panelists will share commentary and photographs showcasing the worlds they made inside their clubs, the care they took of one another during tragedies -- including the AIDS crisis -- and the impact that their creativity had on larger national trends of music, fashion, dance, and generational self-expression.  

On Friday, Oct. 17, “Sanctuary” presents spoken-word performers, including both new and established poets, who will perform at the Broad Street exhibit space at 7 p.m. On Sunday, Oct. 19, “Sanctuary” will host a tea party -- a special film screening, panel discussion, and day party -- in conjunction with the GET DOWN Campaign’s “No More Stigma” film series, from 3-9 p.m., also at the Broad Street exhibit space.

“Sanctuary” will culminate with “Fire and Ice: The FireBall Returns,” featuring dinner, awards, lip-syncing, dance, and live performance.  The FireBall will be held at the Robert Treat Hotel on Saturday, Oct. 25, from 5:30 p.m. to 3 a.m., as a benefit for Newark’s LGBTQ Community Center. Admission is $30. For ticket information, visit or contact James Credle at 973-919-9926 or

“’Sanctuary’ exemplifies the Queer Newark Oral History Project’s ongoing efforts to enable public, intergenerational discussions of LGBT life in Newark,” said Prof. Beryl Satter of the Federated Department of History at Rutgers University-Newark.  “Our city’s clubs, bars, parties, discos, and ballroom houses have long been sites of LGBT solidarity and sustenance. Sanctuary honors this history by using the story of queer club spaces to uncover and celebrate the remarkable resilience, caring and creativity of queer Newark residents.” 

According to Rodney Gilbert, Founder and CEO of Yendor Productions, “The ‘Sanctuary’ events of October 2014 will be the beginning of an outreach to LGBT people and their supporters in every ward in Newark.  We are an integral part of this city’s cultural fabric and we always have been.  ‘Sanctuary’ gives proof of that fact.  We need to show the truth of our past in order to have an inclusive and enriching future for all people in Newark.”