When it comes to enjoying house music in Chicago, house heads generally become complacent, frequenting the same functions and keeping within their comfort zones. The wake-up call comes when political spats with no diplomatic conclusion seal the doors of their favorite haunts, putting an end to ceaseless nights of dancing and snapshots with the scene’s elite.
I learned this the hard way, after the demise of The Note’s “I Love House Music Wednesdays.” Soon after, Sonotheque and Friday’s at Zentra hit the fan; both boarded a one-way flight to a distant memory filed away alongside my most-desired Slick’s. For the last few years, I was clueless and often times felt displaced.
However, the interest for house music venues remains. Today’s followers and media outlets run hip to sure-shot pleasers like Berlin, Smart Bar and Green Dolphin. Blue Light, Evil Olive and Crocodile Lounge also gained ground in recent history. But if you’re more adventurous, try some media-ignored soirees in infrequently chartered areas.
The Dating Game
Sundays at this South Side affair, DJ Emanuel lends his promotional hands bringing in original acts from The Warehouse, Generator and Music Box days. An older crowd, reflective of the era and preferring classic/disco house, jokingly call it “No Babies Sundays.” Expect a line well before midnight when the space sees its capacity. For a more low-key version, come Wednesdays with resident Andre Hatchett.
Kit Kat Lounge and Supper Club
This lounge suits Chicago’s progressive right in the mix of Boystown. "We don't want to be known as a 'gay' lounge, but one where anyone can come. We’ve invented a place where you can listen to dance music, much like Green Dolphin, but in a lounge setting," says owner Edward Gisiger. That said, find a bit of everyone either cast on an outdoor patio or mingling inside within the South Beach backdrop. Save your requests and follow the flow of Junior Jack’s "See You Dancin'" via digital music system while perusing a menu of more than 100 martinis ($5 on Sundays and Tuesdays).
"Old-School Fridays" at this Logan Square Latin hotspot attract a spiffy and age-appropriate clientele. Heart-stopping gorgeous, the crowd respects the old-school notion of dolling up and dancing sensually with their partners versus solo, like elsewhere. Also unusual: DJs Choco and Payback's willingness to tap into the hip house subspecies; the crowd went wild for Reality’s "Yolanda." And at night's end, we were taken to the "Promised Land," an awesome and classic Chicago-based track.
Enthusiasts understand the black gay scene introduced the world to house eons ago. It only made sense finding and paying tribute to one of Chicago's last nightclubs fitting this bill. While the house music section of the Prop House stacks up short against the tin-packed hip-hop backend, the Friday night parties still reign as a place where older heads and younger ballroom boys sweep the floor with vogue impressions and look-at-me whirls accompanied by soulful tracks.
Growing tired of trekking to the city for dope sounds, suburban cats Gerardo Zavala and Danny Sauceda brought the beats to their neck of the jungle, offering "Get Deep Thursdays" at this Berwyn dive along old Route 66. For heads favoring versatility, the Irish pub flirts with underground classics, deep, Latin and "ghetto" house with a touch of techno, acid and down tempo. Past acts include Stacy Kidd, CZR and Rees Urban. The young crowd here seems less inclined with earning their tiger stripes by learning the history of house; instead, partygoers focus on dancing in train lines and funneling $3 UV cocktails.
While house music categorizes as dance music, not everyone dances. This Boystown bar works for followers opting for a sit-down establishment without forfeiting the boom. Make sure you’re comfortable with the nearly naked male entertainment. House plays throughout the week, be it on $1 drink Sundays or Thursdays when renowned local Michael Serafini throws down.
Other places worth checking out
For banging music and a heavy weekday crowd, come Tuesdays for resident Mike Dunn; also named 2009 “DJ of the Year” by 5 Magazine.
Restaurant serving Filipino and Japanese plates by day, place to be seen at night on "Don’t Sweat It" first Thursdays. Situated on the Northwest Side, visitors comprise mostly well-offs in the 25-35 brackets wrapping up their meals ready to burn calories on a cleared-out dining room floor.