When James Brown died, he took a huge chunk of the funk/soul legacy with him. But Chicago's funk lovin' folks can rejoice. DJs here are blowing the dust off old soul and funk records to host monthly dance parties. Read up and mark your calendar, 'cause just like JB said, "you're gonna have a funky good time."
The godfather of Chicago soul nights, Danny's hosts two of the city's best soul and funk collectors: Courtland Green aka Supreme Court and Dante Carfagna, dubbed the 'Funk Archaeologist' by The Reader. The hardwood floors in this house-turned-bar literally shake when the artsy all-ages crowd (popularity for the party surged when Rolling Stone wrote about it a little over a year ago) starts dancing and downing the $3 beers. Soul night only happens the first Wednesday of the month, so if you need help remembering, heed the bartender's advice: "If you've just paid rent and it's Wednesday, it's probably going on."
Head to Lava Lounge on the third Monday of the month and play the Guess Who Sampled This Tune game. Resident DJs Zebo, Hess and Chump cater sets to Lava's hip-hop-loving younger twenty- and thirtysomething crowd, playing mostly funk and soul tracks that have been sampled by hip-hop artists. Expect to hear tunes from Isaac Hayes, Cymande and Parliament while you peruse the club's selection of 30 beers (to make it easy, just order the $3 Wittekirke special). The space is so small that even with a few people on the dance floor it feels like a crowded club on a Saturday night, so you'll have no excuse not to dance.
You don't usually find tapas and soul music under one roof, but the two mix perfectly with DJs Maker and Intel behind the decks and chef Ralph Steinberg in the kitchen at People Lounge. Consider this second Saturday of the month special the perfect primer, heavy on the soul (music, that is) and eclectic with the funk. Maker and Intel, both known for their work in the local hip-hop scene, bust out rarities and classic hits from artists like the Highlighter Band, mixed with occasional rock and hip-hop tracks, so if you’re not sure you’re up for a full night of soul, you’re still bound to hear something that will make you move. Though People lacks an actual dance floor, the dimly lit lounge offers excellent environs for getting to know that special someone over pistachio-crusted tilapia and Sly and the Family Stone.
A nostalgia-driven soundtrack defines the first Thursday night of the month at this Humboldt Park cafe. DJ Tony Chackal blends soul and funk with its '60's and '70's counterpart, psychedelic rock. Tunes range from artists like the Zombies to the Daktaris to the Rolling Stones, with a group of young Logan Square residents, chatting and chilling (there’s not a big dance vibe here) comprising most of the crowd. The large two-room bar and restaurant serves food late, so if you get hungry during your sounds of the '60's trip, a spicy buffalo chicken wrap and $3 Scrimshaw will help bring you down.
Though you'll find the same Supreme Court billed at Danny's Wednesday night, his third Friday of the month party here is more sit-down than bump-n-grind (and who wouldn't sit for tempting late-night eats like veggie dumplings?). You also won't find any drink specials; but considering the sleek-sophisticate vibe, prices are lower than you'd expect (about $4 for most beers and well cocktails). The music here is still filled with funky old dance tunes but with more recognizable favorites than you'll find at Danny’s. Kids in the their twenties and thirties rarely break out and dance, but the few dance sessions we witnessed happened during a Supreme Court set…just another great example of soul power.