Chicago is no stranger to dance music or a good party. We basically invented House music and remember that Soul Train started here. So why is it that time and time again, outside of major dance parties on major weekends, my friends constantly debate and hem and haw about where to go simply to shake off the week and dance their asses off? There's no lack of dance nights or dance music played at great bars in this town so, with a few exceptions, why is it you're not dancing?
Recently I put the question to some of Chicago's finest gays for debate, and was not surprised at the answers. So what do you want in a dance night? What will get you out of the house? Here are a few thoughts.
-Sound As obvious as this may appear, sound is important and often ignored when bars toss together a dance area or club night. Many will splurge on lighting, bathrooms or video while cutting corners on a truly great sound system. Some bars get it right. Robb Stone, artist and door veteran says, "Queen at Smart Bar has it. Of course, Smart Bar is legendary, with its sound system and ubiquitous sunken dance floor". In this day and age, when everyone has a home theater in their own living room, being surrounded by high-quality sound is not just an experience, but a given. If you're not taken in by the music at all times, you lose interest, and lose your groove.
-Substances Not to confuse large scale "circuit" style parties with club nights, many nights and bars are (usually wrongly) associated with party drugs. More often than not, the majority of complaints come from feeling alienated by a drug culture. I've found often when DJing, this is a false perception. That said, if clubs cracked down a bit on the crackiness, you'd slowly see a rise in drink sales. However, once a club has the drug taint on it, it's hard to change perceptions. See Big Chicks for a good example: No drug perception, just a good dance party.
-Old School Taking it back is the key. Not too far back, but just enough. Disco nights are something everyone's asked about, but no one seems to want to attend. The reason? The folks who remember disco won't go out anymore. I've tried. Trust me. But we can take it back to a more '90s way of thinking as Circuit Mom has done in the past few years with his newly legendary Revolution nights. He wants to see us take that to club level. He says, "In going out to dance, there is a clear division of audience that would only come together if there was a Shelter or Cairo rebirth. Two rooms, two styles, two crowds commingling and everyone has the sound they want."
-Finally, you You can talk a blue streak about how there's nowhere to go dance in this town, but a good party takes good people who love good music. Get out and show that. Go to a dance night. Try something new regardless of if you think your friends are there, or if you're getting laid. Just go have a twirl for fun, for you, for Chicago, birthplace of House.