Former staff reflect on life at Blue Gene’s

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With news that both Blue Gene’s and Vibe Entertainment Complex are scheduled to close in late September, Church Street is left with two fewer community businesses. That particular block has over the years been witness to a number of LGBT organizations that have arrived to great fanfare and then, in time, closed up shop. Once popular destinations such as OutLoud! bookstore, Club Blu (Vibe’s previous incarnation), and—predating every LGBT outpost on Church—World’s End are the most notable.

Former staff from Blue Gene’s took the time to reflect upon their personal experience working on Church Street.

 

Benji Brown was the most recent general manager at Blue Gene’s.

When I first walked into Blue Gene's about 3 years ago, it never struck me as a place I would visit again. Honestly, I only visited Blue Gene's one other time before I started working here. Even though I have only worked here a short 6 months and I feel like I was able to contribute to the bar in a positive way. It didn't take long for me to realize the way Blue Gene's and Vibe has impacted the LGBTQ community and all I wanted to do was build on the positive of bringing their support to not only the gay community but the entire community of Nashville and its surrounding areas. I wanted Blue Gene's to continue to be a safe haven where even before you sat down at the bar, I knew what you wanted to drink… If you wanted a lime or not… tall glass or short glass. It's the small details that really set us apart from the normal Nashville gay bar. I'm extremely happy to have been a small part in Blue Gene's history and am saddened that we are closing. However, as the saying goes… "Everything happens for a reason."  Thank you all for the time, hugs, and evenings you spent here with us.

 

Steve Mogck has hosted karaoke at Blue Gene’s, back in it’s original location, when Vibe was known as simply “Blu,” since the very beginning in 2004.

Twelve years ago I was hired by Will and Mike to run a Karaoke show on Weds nights at "Blu" which is now known as Vibe. I was still working at the Chute at the time. Gene Sessa started Bartending at Blu and worked it out with Will and Mike to open Blue Genes next door, and move Karaoke over there. After the Chute closed, My nights went from 1 to 4, which I really appreciated. So many wonderful people that I met at the Chute as well as The Connection and other bars found a new Karaoke home in Blue Genes. Mama Jean, our official unconditionally loving Karaoke Mama followed us over and cheered us on. So many friendships have been forged over the years that I will cherish for a lifetime. Many thx to Mike, Will, and my co-workers for their support and friendship. We've been a great team and I will truly miss so much about this wonderfully, crazy job that I've been collectively doing for 23 years in Nashville.

 

Michael McFaden tended bar at Blue Gene’s off and on since 2006 when Blue Gene’s opened.

I started tending bar at Blue Genes in July of 2006, about one month after the bar first opened. This past July, on the eve of my birthday, I retired. And now, barely two months later, Blue Genes is closing. A ten-year career sandwiched between almost perfect bookends.

I guess, my favorite memory of Blue Genes will always be the people. Yeah, there were a few whack-jobs (like the homeless guy who refused to leave and then urinated on our leather couch), but on the whole, some wonderful patrons came through our doors.

Patrons who became good friends over the years. Although my crowd changed substantially throughout the decade, I am proud to say that I still had some of the same regulars that I had on day one.

The popularity of Blue Genes waxed and waned, and then waxed and waned again. It was sort of like the tide going in and out. I am aware that, at least in regards to smoking, we were a bit of a dinosaur. A lot of people stayed away because of that issue. But I would argue that just as many people came there because we offered a haven for those who enjoyed their nicotine. I, myself, have never been a smoker. But I have long argued that taverns have been the domain of smokers since taverns first existed. It was sort of a point of honor with me to serve in one of Nashville’s last smoking establishments.

In the end, I was truly touched by the friendship and support shown to me throughout the years, which culminated in a huge party during my final weekend. People came from as far away as Knoxville and Montgomery, AL to surprise me on my last day. The bar was packed with revelers, all wishing me well as I moved on. Little did anyone know then that, a mere two months later, Blue Genes, itself, would be moving on. But moving on to where? I know I’m not alone in hoping that this is not the end.

 

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