As The Chapel at The Abbey prepares to mark its first birthday next week, it is an opportunity to look back at the venue’s 21-year history as a nightclub and some interesting backstory to the business at the location before that!

Here are some fun facts you may not know—or may have forgotten—about The Chapel at The Abbey.

  • According to the City of West Hollywood, the first building on the location was built in 1947–relatively new compared to other historical buildings in town.
  • In 2017, The Chapel at The Abbey was named Best New Gay Bar by LA Weekly in the Best of LA Issue. 
  • Before opening as The Chapel in 2016, the venue was most recently known as Here Lounge.
  • Here Lounge was opened in 2001 by the owners of New York City’s g lounge.
  • Here Lounge was the first of three New York bar imports to West Hollywood. The other two: Don’t Tell Mamma and Flaming Saddles.
  • California’s Alcoholic Beverages Commission suspended Here Lounge’s license for a month in 2013 for violations of the entertainment and employee attire regulations in a sting that also hit other nearby gay and lesbian establishments including Micky’s.
  • Before it was Here Lounge, The Chapel was called The Firehouse from 1996-2000.
  • The Firehouse was owned by nightlife impresarios April LaRue, Victor Vargas and Josh Wells.
  • Before becoming The Firehouse, the location hosted a retail store called “Just Sweats” which sold, you guessed it, just sweats

Now here’s where the story gets interesting…….

Just Sweats became the backdrop for a long-unsolved Insurance fraud/murder scam involving a hustler from the Rose Tattoo, Studio 54, a Glendale doctor who founded one of the nation’s first HMOs and more. Take the time to read the full story as its lessons still could apply today in West Hollywood.

Although we don’t have any photos of what Just Sweats or The Firehouse looked like, here are some images of Here Lounge:

And for the record, this is what The Chapel at The Abbey looks like now…

(Photo credit: The Chapel at The Abbey)

Want to know more about the history of West Hollywood’s LGBT nightclubs? Read our histories of The Abbey, of Revolver and of Flaming Saddles.

Have a memory of Here Lounge, The Firehouse or Just Sweats you want to share? Drop them in the comments!