Saddam would've treasured it. Kim Jong-Il would leave inspired, and Fidel would float on cloud nine visiting Stay, the River North late-night lounge atop Manor
with a reclusive attitude and a no-photography policy. Owner Mike Bisbee (of RiNo
) defines Stay as an after-hours hangout where people's privacy is respected, where guests do as they please. And he's serious about the no-photo policy; personnel enforce it with an Iranian Republican Guard-type presence.
Big names in the Chicago scene (let's just say the owners of several well-known venues and a hair-salon chain that dominates Chicago's Northwest Side) seem appreciative of the seclusion, secured by a velvet rope and a ring of beautiful women. The remaining guest list includes exclusive partygoers with a passion for posh. A circumspect locale means an endemic crowd uninterrupted by invasive clubbers that time forgot, like people just now discovering Sound-bar and Wet.
However, the setting here focuses on even, natural tones versus shocking blues and electric greens. Smaller than most clubs, Stay fills fast – kudos for bringing out a full crowd on a nippy Tuesday night. Guests gather on dark leather couches beside Jenga-like walls, while others shuffle their feet on hardwood floors as a DJ drops top 40 hits. The remainder of the room gravitates toward a small bar possessed by modelesque bartenders mostly doling out vodka cocktails and Coronas (an average drink is $9).
Cover for gentlemen ranges from $10-$20, but expect a discount when barreling in with a gang of gals who never pay. While a few backward baseball hats and Chuck T's slide in, dressing stylish keeps doormen issues at bay. Noticeably out of season were the halfway unbuttoned-collared shirts; stick-straight hair down to the hips, baby-doll dresses, tan skin and Gotti-boy spikes still made the cut, at least on our visit.
Centerstage Reviewer: David-Anthony Gonzalez