May 3, 2010 at 11:33 am EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Death of patron forces nightclub's early closing

Town Danceboutique, a gay D.C. nightclub, closed about two hours early at 1 a.m. Sunday after a patron collapsed on the dance floor and was pronounced dead a short time later.

Town co-owner Ed Bailey said paramedics, who arrived on the scene within minutes after the club called 911, indicated the man suffered a heart attack and was in cardiac arrest. Bailey noted that one of the paramedics found heart medication in the man’s pocket.

Deputy D.C. Police Chief Diane Groomes said a 59-year-old man fell to the floor and hit his head. She said the cause of death was undermined, pending an autopsy that the D.C. Medical Examiner’s office was to conduct.

“We have to see if I was drug related [or] health related to determine the cause of death,” she told the Washington Blade in an e-mail. “At this time, we do not believe foul play was involved.”

Groomes said members of the department’s Gay & Lesbian Liaison Unit were at the scene and assisted in processing. She noted that police routinely close businesses open to the public, such as nightclubs, after a death occurs as part of a standard procedure to enable police to conduct a death investigation.

Bailey said he made the decision to close the club for the night before police approached him, saying he wanted to give authorities a chance to “do what they need to do.”

He said he issued a statement by e-mail to the club’s customer list explaining what happened, saying the club decided to close early “due to this horrible event.”

The statement also says that paramedics did all they could to save the man’s life. “Our thoughts are with him and his family,” it says.

Town, one of the city’s largest dance clubs that caters to the LGBT community, is located at Eighth Street and Florida Avenue, N.W.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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