Lucky Horseshoe Lounge dancer Cody Laughlin died June 15 at his home. The cause of death is currently unknown. He was 26.
Laughlin was born Dec. 30, 1993, in Chicago and graduated early from Northside College Prep in 2011. Shortly after graduating, Laughlin started working for Jarvis Lighting. When Laughlin left Jarvis in 2018, he was a shipping and logistics manager. For the past two years, Laughlin was a Lucky Horseshoe Lounge dancer.
Outside of his work life, Laughlin spent time riding his beloved Kawasaki motorcycle. He also loved Cher and his favorite material was mesh. A foodie, it was said that he frequently told friends he would "get a tummy and bigger thighs" from being such a voracious eater.
Laughlin is survived by his mother, Kathy ( nee Skupien ) Laughlin; sister Jessica ( Solomon ) Rigsby; aunt Marianne ( Joe ) Janesku; uncle Mike ( Sue ) Skupien; cousins Michelene, Kelsey, Brian, Amy and Erin; nieces Alini, Coco, Selah and Saria; chosen family members Nya and Anita Corkill; and countless friends.
"Cody and I met when we were 12 years old, and were best friends ever since," said longtime friend Lauren Strandberg. "He was an absolute gem, a beam of pure love and light that brightened every life that was lucky enough to cross paths with his. Cody had the kindest heart, the silliest sense of humor and the most diverse set of interests. The world is dimmer without him."
"Cody was an ageless soul, who could only spread laughter and joy," said another longtime friend, Rachel Hermes. "He lived by his own rules, and never let anyone get him down. Cody loved all animals and to explore everywhere. He was so open-minded. Cheers forever Cody."
"I met Cody five years ago through my friends Antony Morgano and Ken Ballard," said John Michael Colgin, another friend. "Cody was Peter Pan incarnate, but with a thong. His entrances to Ken's apartment felt like waking up in Oz and realizing everything before was in black and white. Cody was Oz forged into a Gaytastic daredevil. He entered every door like a party. So it made sense that he wanted to be a dancer at the Lucky Horseshoe. Cody's audition was 6:30 p.m. on a Wednesday. He gathered us before to act as his audience plants with dollar bills in our hands. Of course, he got the job.
"Hanging out with him was like playing a video game with infinite experience points, like you were cheating life. I miss introducing him to people as my friend and I am sorry some people will never meet Cody. He was a true Boystown original and he created community everywhere he went."
Yet another friend, Anthony Morgano, said, "Loving Cody and being his friend was a lot like riding on the back of his motorcycle. Even before he finally acquired his motorcycle, Cody's innermost self was always zooming down life's highway straddling a rumbling beast. The world felt more exhilarating and alive and flew by in a blur of sound and color and joy. 'Hold on tight,' he would exclaim.
"Even when you would go so fast that a part of your being was scared, wrapping your arms around him and leaning in made you feel safe and right and free and you would scream together at the top of your lungs and feel more alive than any other ride, or night out, or afternoon at the beach. I do not think I will ever hear the roar of a motorcycle, or pop of a cork, the sound of cackling laughter or Cher's crooning voice, without looking up expectantly, feeling the wind rushing through my hair and hearing his voice echoing all around, 'Hold on tight.'"
The Lucky Horseshoe posted this message on its Facebook page.
"It is with great sadness we inform you that our dancer Cody Laughlin has recently passed away. Our thoughts and condolences go out to his friends and family. He will be missed. The Lucky Horseshoe will host a memorial celebration of his life at a future date to be determined when the bar is able to accommodate an appropriate capacity for this event."
A celebration of Laughlin's life took place June 20 at the Corkill residence at 1135 S. Rose Ave., in Park Ridge. The memorial was held outdoors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Corkills asking that attendees bring masks.