The New Year brought with it not just a rash of parties, but also new club openings in Chicago. Here are some hot spots Windy City revelers are busy checking out as their operators vie to attract crowds.
Taking over the long-lived Bar Chicago space on Chicago’s mini-Vegas-strip of rowdy, bachelor-party-friendly bars east on Division Street in the Gold Coast is Detention Nightclub. Open until 4 a.m. Thursday and Friday and 5 a.m. Saturdays, the club is taking on a schoolhouse theme with easy-on-the-eye cocktail servers and dancers dressed in questionably-appropriate, midriff-baring schoolgirl outfits. Bar Chicago was known for both servers and patrons regularly dancing on the long, front bar and pouring shots from liquor bottles into the mouth much like Coyote Ugly; that form of entertainment continues with Detention. Elevated VIP levels with bottle service begets even more people watching and steel/metal accents with light brown, hardwood flooring reflects a dressed up school gymnasium.
Creating a speakeasy for the nightclub world, Managing Partner Leo Fronimos uses no guest lists, RSVPs or VIP sections in his latest venture, which echoes Studio 54’s glitz and glamour along with the hard-to-get-in appeal that former club Le Passage didn’t exactly show. Le Passage occupied the space for 14 years and closed in January to be renovated into the new concept by parent company Three Headed Productions. This Gold Coast club's opening night masquerade ball event was abuzz with talk of exclusivity; Chicago Bulls basketball player Derrick Rose was rumored to have been turned away at the door, but the club stringently refuted the claim. Next up, the club hosts prominent DJs Sasha, Danny V and singer Chris Brown and “the right connections” will be needed to get past the discerning velvet red rope. Those that do make it inside enjoy car service and endless bottle service pours. Management also plans to continue in the tradition of Le Passage as a destination for private events, between smaller intimate parties of 50 people up to larger gatherings of 350. Inside, old-world European-style décor in the form of pinks, purples, velvet and suede, along with tile floors and bright stones continue that “royal” appeal both in look and service at this space. privetchicago.com.
Angels & Kings at Hard Rock
Angels & Kings, a dark, urban, punk rock-inspired club part-owned by Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy, once made its name on Clark Street in the River North neighborhood, but now has moved to the ground-floor lobby of the Hard Rock Hotel off the Magnificent Mile in the loop. The boost in downtown traffic and physical space, which includes a new stage, is already helping the club recruit a new list of first-rate DJs, artists and bands. Wentz and his co-owners said they were looking to tone down the “velvet rope” feel for a more welcoming vibe toward Chicago residents and visitors alike. That may sound like code word for becoming “touristy” but just in the first couple months, the move seemed less like a sell-out and more like a simple branding ploy for the prolific Becker Ventures group. www.hardrockhotelchicago.com.
Somewhere -- “mid” between the West Loop and downtown Chicago in the city’s meatpacking district and “mid” between live music venue and DJ-focused nightclub -- there’s The Mid, an 800-person capacity club with bright magenta, purple and neon green lighting mixed with toned-down hardwood flooring, chocolate brown couches and beige-painted pillars. At the back, an elevated stage flanked by an exposed brick wall creates a lofty, warehouse feel as if a rock singer may jump up on stage, but instead its digitized rock by DJs House Arrest, Swing Shift and other versatile spinners outside of the usual R&B, straight-techno realm. Additional recent performers included Steve Aoki, the well-respected hybrid electronica and house spinner known for remixing popular modern rock hits, as well as DJs Nathan Scott and Gus Karas, with similar hybrid styles. The loft feel continues with the open, two-level space zeroing in on a center dance floor with bars and lounge seating off to the sides. www.themidchicago.com.