Where'd Everybody Go? ... a view of nightlife in Chicago
January 06, 2006 @ 4:37 PM
Chicagoans love to go out. Not fer nuthin'? But even in my clubby adolescence in back in New York I didn't hang out as much as I see Chicagoans do. There's a party every night, somewhere. In somebody's loft, in a back alley , and oh yeah! in clubs and bars scattered throughout every neighborhood. I can't complain too much, since I've managed to get paid to go out? But damn! In addition to the usual faves like Level and Sound-Bar, there are long running 'theme nights' that draw crods of the like minded from ever starata of the social scene to party like it's 1999 together. And yeah...there is a Prince night. I went to a couple of off the beaten path parties that caught my eye in November and came back to tell you all about it.
In honor of Madonna's newest release, Berlin added a second Madonna*rama night to their usual monthly schedule and invited all of Chicago to come on down. It was pretty cold on November 20th, and I was happy that Berlin is just steps from the red line entrance. I got there at about 10.30, but nothing was going on yet. The night started off slowly with people drifting in singly and in pairs, watching the 'Blonde Ambition' tour on monitors around the bar. By 11.30 the music was turned up and different monitors reflected different imagees of the Madgester- dark haired acolyte to dancing statues? Check. Curly mop top, torpedo bra, and potty mouth? Right over here...Purple leotard and Farrah Fawcett hair in London? We got that.
I pretty much stuck to the corners, not wanting to disturb the rising tide of Maddy love that was building on the dance floor. Newer hits like 'Hung Up' and 'Super Pop'were great? But the crowd jumped to oldies like 'Vogue' so quickly that it was insane! A voguing contest may have decided who would win the first Madonna prize package of the evening ( it was Mr. Hung Up- a hottie with a muscle shirt sparkling out the singles name in sequins.)? But these people didn't need an excuse to strike a pose. They were there for love. As I was leaving a pixie-ish blond exploded out of the crowd to corral her friend into dancing to 'Everybody', one of Madonna's earliest hits. The smile on her face was beatiful.
'In the Spirit' was a night of "hammond grooves and reggae" at Sonotheque on Chicago Avenue. I was actually drawn to this party because of the mod element, which was played up in a RedEye story on the mod fashion trend. I was expecting nattily dressed modsters, but soon after arriving realized that it was a crowd that was more about the music than any one particular look. I saw rockabilly types mixing with hipsters mingling with neo-souls slackers. It was all one. A few people tried out the dance floor, but Mod Chicago DJ Eric Colin and a guy wearing a brown velvet blazer were the best. The guy in the blazer was actually dancing with his hands in his pockets and making it look too easy and too cool...really, he looked doing it.
The night was little more laid back and cool than Madonna*rama. A tad more of a cerebral scene. It was less accesible than the Berlin night, but I liked it. It was good grown up fun and music that you never hear on the radio. Julie Christie's hedonistic 'Girl on a Motorbike' played til it's fiery end on the monitors and it was all good. When I talked to Eric, he mentioned that this night was more about drawing in new people and a larger audience for the music than perhaps a mod night at Neo might be. He told me that by working with Sonotheque he was hoping to bring the soul sound to more people, whether they were into the mod look or not. I think it's the kind of night that has to take a while to develop and grow by word of mouth. let's hope that happens!