The Ghosts of the Jimani

Restless Souls still haunt this tragic location

The Jimani Bar was once the location of the Upstairs Lounge. In 1973, someone set fire to this club, which was popular with the LGBT community, killing 32 people. As you can imagine, a place that was sight to such tragedy is no stranger to ghosts and hauntings. Patrons of the bar and employees who work here have encounters with the ghosts of those who died in the fire 42 years ago.

On our Killers and Thrillers Ghost Tour, we spend some time at the Jimani Lounge, educating people about this tragedy in New Orleans’ history. We also talk about the paranormal happenings which still happen to this day. The ghosts and voices of those people who died in this horrific fire are still being seen and heard. Maybe they want to make sure that they are not forgotten.

The Fire at the Upstairs Lounge

On June 24th 1973, over 50 people gathered in the Upstairs Lounge, a well known Gay Bar in the French Quarter of New Orleans. At 7:56pm a fire was discovered burning the stairwell leading up to the Club. Blocking everyone’s main escpae route, the fire quickly spread throughout the Upstairs Lounge. A number of people were able to escpae, but 32 others were not soo lucky. Cramming their bodies near the windows on the Chartres Street side of the building, these indviduals desperately tried to squeeze through the bars protecting the windows. Perhaps the most chilling photograph to come from the aftermath is above. It shows the body of Reverend Bill Larson, essentially burned to the building.

In the early 70’s, the attitudes of many New Orleanians was simply ‘They got what they deserved”. Even the investigation into the fire was never really pursued. A man by the name of Rodger Dale Nunez was suspected of setting the blaze, but was never convicted. He committed suicide in 1974. To this day, the murders at the Upstairs Lounge represent the deadliest fire in New Orleans’ history, and most of the most violent and deadly attacks on the LGBT community in United States History.

The Ghosts of the Jimani

It should come as no surprise that many people have experienced paranormal activites at the location of this mass murder. Today, the Jimani Sports Bar occupies the building which once was home to the Upstairs Lounge. We even start the Killers and Thrillers Tour there because of the paranormal activity which happens here.

Many people have had encounters with the ghosts that now haunted the Jimani Bar and the 3rd floor of the building. While I have not personally investigated the Jimani there have been numerous other paranormal groups who have spent time trying to make contact with the ghosts of those who died in the fire of 1973.

More than anything else, numerous EVPs have been recorded, voices from those who died in the fire. Those voices have told paranormal investigators everything from their name, to the fact that they feel forgotten and that they want people to never forget what happen at the Upstairs Lounge. There is even one story about a full bodied apparition which has been seen walking the 2nd floor, in the kitchen area of the Jimani. While this is rare, it goes to show that there are ghosts still haunting what once was the Upstairs Lounge.

The story about the Jimani and the Upstairs Lounge, and those who died there is a very emotional story. While on our tours we have had numerous people become very upset and emotional upon hearing the story about this haunted location. It is hard not to get upset. Anytime there is unnecessary death it touches you on an emotional level. To hear how the victims of this fire were treated really speaks to you. Simply knowing that many of the victims of the fire remained unclaimed, their families too afraid to come forward and claim their bodies out of fear that they’ll be known as someone who had a gay son, is an incredibly heartwrenching story. Nobody deserves to be simply discarded because of their sexual preference.

To hear the whole story about the fire at the Upstairs Lounge, and the ghosts which remain there until this day, join our Killers and Thrillers Tour. You’ll hear the rest of the story. Any visitor coming to New Orleans should know about this horrific event in New Orleans’ history. If this isn’t your kind of ghost story, check out our other New Orleans Ghost Tours