Archive for the ‘Party’ Category

Attend A Warehouse Party


2015
08.02
Sponsored by Four Loko

Sponsored by Four Loko

Everyone in Chicago should attend a warehouse party once in their lifetime before they leave this magnificent city.  Warehouses parties are fun, chaotic, and great amusement!

This week’s party was a Lollapalooza Afterparty courtesy of Four Loko.  Four Loko if you recall was originally an alcoholic energy drink, but since they’ve been banned they’ve remade their formula to clock in at a dazzling 12.5% ABV.

We took an Uber to the secret party location which turned out to be Moonlight Studios on the near west side.  It was hidden and the Uber driver had a hard time finding it but the unmistakable line of people made sure we were in the right spot.  Once in the line we waited awhile with some people not knowing what was going on and some people ready to rock.

DJ WhooKid

DJ WhooKid

Once we got in, there were free sunglasses handed out, purple lights everywhere and a wicked sound system blasting out that bass.  Four Loko flew at high velocity as the bartenders worked furiously to dish out drinks to all attendees.  Knowing that the stage would crowd up once Wacka Flocka Flame showed up, I camped out in front of the stage way before anyone else had the same idea. DJ WhooKid opened it up and got the people moving in an opening set that was a perfect pre-game.

Wacka Flocka Flame

Wacka Flocka Flame

Waka Flocka was wicked, leading the rapping and people filling in all of the words I didn’t know.  Eventually he ran out into the crowd and started rapping right in the middle of everybody!

Not being a fan of live rap, this was by far one of the greatest shows I had ever witnessed – Waka Flocka is a terrific performer, dancing, rapping, getting the whole crowd amped up.  When the hot girls started dancing on stage he didn’t stop them, but he did spray everyone with some fine Andre sparkling wine and Four Loko!

The crowd rules

In the end the hot girls began to dance on stage then everybody and their mom bum rushed the stage.  Me being in the front, I then had to fight a deluge of people rolling up on the stage.  It was awesome, Wake Flocka pulled a mission accomplished and the night was a raging success.

Thanks, @fourloko for the bad ass party.  Nothing beats #lokonation !!!


The Great Chicago Fire Festival Recap


2014
10.05

The Great Chicago Fire Festival took place last night on an unseasonably cool night marked with the third earliest snowfall in Chicago history.  This artistic homage to the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 featured buildings on floating platforms and much anticipation for a flaming tour de force that fell flat in its execution.

Arriving to Wacker Ave. at 7pm, chaos reigned as onlookers gathered on the Lower Wacker Riverwalk and the various bridges.  Security and police tried to clear spectators from the bridges due to safety concerns as fireworks were scheduled to begin later in the evening but the police changed their mind.  This left me to fight my way down to Lower Wacker Drive where all of the prime viewing spots had already been taken.  People lined up precariously on stairwells and some resorted to standing on muddy slanted hills to try to get their vantage points.  A man with a lit up Home Run Inn Pizza placard walked around to pass out coupons to all passers and maneuvering through the endless sea of people soon became a fruitless endeavor.

Eventually we settled into a spot under Wabash Bridge only to notice that the bridges had not cleared with thousands of people still standing on them.  Was this a legitimate safety threat?  Had police and security lost all control of public safety?  All of this reminded me of the much maligned Looptopia circa 2007-2008 that was subject to the same public mass disorganization.

Eventually the PA systems turned on to announce the schedule of events and explain the backdrop of the event.  Students did help assemble these great looking floating platforms and there were various community leaders and political big wigs ready to help with the lighting of the everything.  Trendy music popped in and the narration of the history of the Chicago Fire made us remember those fateful Chicagoans who had to deal with a mean southeast wind that would set their city ablaze.

Floating Building Platform

The anticipation of the setting of the fires was met with bemusement and prolong confusion as no fires were lighting up the buildings.  Music and the audio sounds of fires popping kept repeating on the loud speakers but it was clear that a certain element was missing:  fire.  Soon the crowd burst into chants of, “FIRE! FIRE! FIRE” which reminded me of Chicago Fire chants, but no capo to lead the cheering was to be found.  Eventually an announcement was made to admit defeat and capitulation as the gatherers were informed of the electrical malfunction and that now we would be setting the fires via manual mode which inevitably meant more delays.

At this point, the crowd began to thin out as disappointed onlookers were not willing to remain braving the cold for a partial glimpse of buildings on fire.  This gave me a much better vantage point to start shooting pictures, but there wasn’t much to shoot.  From Lower Wacker, you could see Marina City Tower residents gathered on their balconies trying to catch a view of the impending flames below, but the waiting continued.

At last - a fire?

At last - a fire?

Eventually the buildings were set ablaze with much cheering and applause.  The high winds did not help with the flames and we soon realized these buildings were fizzling out, much like the spirit of the event.  At this point, a vast majority of the people started fleeing the scene in an effort to avoid the inevitable public transportation logjam that would ensue.  An announcement soon proclaimed that the fireworks show was soon to begin!

Chicago Fire Fireworks!

Chicago Fire Fireworks!

At last, something to watch with awe and to think about.  Fireworks boomed from all bridges (with people still on them) and the greatest boom came from Michigan Avenue bridge which was just a bit too far out of site.  It was a fun fireworks show to watch and even more fun to take pictures of.  Execution here was great, but the lackluster never was blaze served as a great disappointment on a personal level.  Having been to a Red Moon event before, I was expecting flawless execution and an amazing show considering the $2M spent and considerable newspaper coverage.

The purpose of the event was to unite the city with its various communities being represented as well as to draw in people from all over the city to enjoy our seldom used Riverwalk.  I commend everyone who worked hard on the event and feel terrible that the inclement weather of the last few days resulted in less than perfect execution.  The idea was thought out and the considerable effort showed and I hope for more great city events in the future.

#75 – Crawfish Boil at Toon’s


2012
04.22
Toon's Crawfish Banner

Toon's Crawfish Banner

We’re talking crawfish boil here.  Just two months ago I had my first crawfish ever in Las Vegas and have been craving crawfish ever since.  In Vegas, they fly in their crawfish daily from the south.  When I visited California in March, lo and behold they had several crawfish restaurants serving boiled crawfish and boiled shrimp all day every day.  The search for Chicago crawfish boil revealed that only a few places have crawfish boils and you certainly can’t find any places serving up crawfish daily!

After hearing that Toon’s had regular crawfish boils, I made sure to find them on Facebook and find out when the next crawfish boil was.  Discovering the next crawfish boil would feature 700 pounds of crawfish, it was a no brainer to pop an event invite and round up some good company to go eat crawfish!

How to Have a Successful Crawfish Boil at Toons

1. Get there early – Arriving early to a crawfish boil make sure you get a nice seat at the best TVs and that you will be in striking distance of the crawfish right when they come out of giant vats boiling in the back.  Getting to the boil early also means that you will have a prime opportunity to drink more and secure seating for you and your closest friends.  Don’t be surprised if a stranger decides to sit by you – seating gets tight (and that’s not a bad thing)!

2. It’s all about the plastic tray – While there are paper baskets to carry your crawfish, arriving early also means first crack at the giants trays used for crawfish. You might be able to double down with two paper baskets to drag back your crawfish, but I think it’s more fun to load up a giant tray with steaming hot crawfish.

3. Bring $25 cash. For the price of $25 cash you will get a bracelet along with a drink ticket for your included serving of selected beer.  The bracelet entitles you to ALL YOU CAN EAT crawfish from when they start serving until they flat run out of crawfish.  You will definitely get your money’s worth if you obey rules 1, 2, & 3.

Toon's Crawfish Tray

Toon's Crawfish Tray

The crawfish came out at 1:30PM and the line was not too daunting as Toon’s kept serving up tray after tray of crawfish and every serving was more than generous.  To be honest, one tray would have made my money’s worth and I really enjoyed the corn and mushroom that came along with the delicious crawfish. My old roommate was annihilating his crawfish and @GourmetRambler made fun of me for eating slow also.

@GettinHanked and @atick7 arrived next but sat elsewhere in the bar to enjoy their crawfish. @leyla_a missed out on the mud bugs since she compares crawfish to cockroaches and ordered pulled turkey instead. @TheAW1 and his friend Norman arrived much later and @girlinacity got there by crawfish o’clock.  Whilst waiting for a batch of crawfish, I got a chance to check out the back operations to see where the crawfish were all coming from.

Danny Beck - Mastermind of Toon's Crawfish Boil

Danny Beck - Mastermind of Toon's Crawfish Boil

With 700 pounds of crawfish and a bush of blue crab cooking up it was great to be able to take a look at the hard work going in the back while everyone was inside drinking and waiting for the next batch.  There were three or four giant vats to cook up crawfish, jambalaya, and crab, and kids were playing with live crawfish in a shallow plastic pool.  Two people were eating on top of a dumpster, and Danny let me know there were 150 pounds of crawfish left and that all of the crawfish were flown in fresh from the bayou.

Are you ready for a bushel of blue crab?

Are you ready for a bushel of blue crab?

B.S. Brass Brand: some serious brass Dixieland

B.S. Brass Brand: some serious brass Dixieland

Danny also let me know that the band was about to play in an hour. When B.S. Brass Band took stage, I think this is where Toon’s elevated this from a feeding frenzy to an all out party.  The music was some straight up Dixieland jazz blasting out some ripe music. Given that I had been sitting by the juke all day, the new music was loud and I was loving every minute of it.  You can always tell it’s a great party when you run into people you just don’t expect, I ran into a kid from my high school who I hadn’t seen in ages and ran into @cpbelser outside.  @cpbelser let me know that Toon’s crawfish boil is the closest you’ll find to a real southern crawfish boil out in the city and I was happy that my first crawfish boil was in the right spot.

If you’ve got a hankering for crawfish boil, find out when the next crawfish boil is at Toon’s and head on over!


#10 – Chicago’s Best Street Fest: West Fest


2011
07.13
@djjohnsimmons

@djjohnsimmons

If you’ve ever been to Chicago in the summertime, you know our streets and calendars get stacked with an endless array of neighborhood street fests that combine local shopping, food and of course, live music. You’ll find West Fest in the second week of July between Wood and Damen on Chicago Avenue. Like most street fests, you’ll have to pay your $5 suggested donation that benefits the West Town Chamber of Commerce and roll through past the barricades to get your hand marked.

Once inside, you’re free to roam to the rock stage on one end or the DJ staged on the other. In between, you’ll find food vendors, boutiques, and even a few bar patios on the way east. An endless stream of people with dogs, kids, and friends inevitably means you will run into people (whether you want to or not). Most years I try to check out both stages and some of the vendors but this year I got to West Fest and the music was slammin’ so I just had to rush past all the vendors and check out @djjohnsimmons at the turntables.

I first heard John “Break It Down” Simmons at a Halloween party a few years back. I was sleepy and ready to go home but at about 3am, I heard the music kick it up three notches and had to get my dance on. I looked over and saw the wizard at work spinning the hot tracks and keeping people on their feet. The hardest working man in Chicago, you’ll find him spinning his craft all over the city on any given night.

West Fest

@SmallbarDst at West Fest

West Fest transcends your local neighborhood street fest, it is an experience and it is the city’s best street festival of the year. Why is West best so spectacular? Just like going to a great party, you know you’ll run into friends you hadn’t planned on seeing. Every year I run into friends I haven’t seen in ages and this year was no different. Another trend I’ve noticed the past few years at West Fest is that if my friends get too tired and all go home, all I have to do is walk twenty feet and I’ll run into another friend I didn’t expect to see! That’s when you know you and everybody else is in the right place and the right time.

@blucu hard at work

@blucu hard at work

There’s a simple rule with West Fest – when the sun goes down the crowds roll in and everyone is dancing! Some friends of mine booked early (ahem ahem @haterface @allaboutkelli @cassidycody @funnybunnytoes) and missed out on the best part of West Fest. As the crowds start gathering up, you best lock yourself a spot to either sit back and relax or get up and get your dance on. Luckily, I ran into some old friends and had a seat on the patio of Tecalitan.

West Fest Crowd

West Fest Crowd

With Chicago legend Derrick Carter bringing the people off the curb and onto the street to dance, I had to get off of the patio and make my way to the front. Using light taps to get my way through, I found the quickest path curbside wading through an endless sea of people and empty bottles of water. Pushing through, eventually I made it all the way to the front speaker at full blast. Knowing full well the price of getting to the front was going to be eating some decibels, I slicked my way across and got all the way to the front to see and hear one of Chicago’s world class DJ’s giving it all to the hometown faithful. Nothing says Chicago more than house music outdoors at the best street fest all year. Take it from @blucu:

Derrick Carter

Derrick Carter

#11 – Turtle Races at Big Joe’s


2011
01.20
Big Joe's 2 & 6

Big Joe's 2 & 6

Big Joe’s 2 & 6 in Lincoln square hosts one of Chicago’s most unique events: Friday Night Turtle Races! Yes, you’ve heard right – turtle races in the bar! I don’t know who came up with turtle races, but Big Joe’s takes it to a whole other level with some All-American fun. What are the turtle races? How do these turtle races work? Well let me just tell you!

Rule #1: Buy Beer to Receive Tickets

Did someone say $8 pitchers?

Did someone say $8 pitchers?

Big Joe’s features pitchers of Bud, Bud Light, PBR, and MGD for a mere $8. For a few dollars more you can fill up with good old Stella Artois and the like. With every drink, the bartenders will give you a big strip of tickets and tables across the bar have all of their strips lined up ready to go.

Rule #2: Keep Your Tickets!

Tickets, please!

Tickets, please!

Tickets are not to be thrown out since there are six races during the course of the night and then a special race at the end of the night with all of the winners. The winner of the seventh race gets entered into a raffle for a free trip to Las Vegas. Six races with six turtle jockeys means thirty-six people will be chosen. I have yet to go to the turtle races and not had a friend or myself step up to be a turtle jockey.

Step 3: Wait for the Emcee to Call Your Number!

The Man with the Turtle Hat

The Man with the Turtle Hat

With thirty-six turtle jockeys needed, the raffle tickets are called one by one for each race. All raffle tickets are placed into a giant green bucket and numbers are read as they’re drawn. If the number called is not claimed, the crowd erupts in cheer as the holder of the ticket with the number that is closest but still under (Price is Right-style) is now the turtle jockey.

Step 4: Pick your turtle!

Pick Your Turtle

Pick Your Turtle

Everyone’s who’s ever gone to the turtle races knows that Yolanda is the slowest %#@%#!’n’ turtle in the world! Given this knowledge, Big Joe’s will have you randomly select from the tupperware to figure out which turtle you will be jockeying. There’s Lola, Lucky Dan, Swifter, Doozy, and Yolanda. Each turtle has its own personality and you’ll have to watch the races to find your favorite.

Step 5: Let the Races Begin!

Let the Turtle Races Begin!

Let the Turtle Races Begin!

Turtles begin in the center of the ring with a cake lid covering them. The winner of the turtle race is the first turtle to get to the edge of the table. Usually the turtles will quickly move out of the orange ring (except Yolanda, who is stubborn as a mule) and then the waiting game begins! The kicker here is that the first turtle out wins you a t-shirt and gets you into the winner’s bracket for the final race. On the flip side, the last turtle out also wins you a free drink so there is still a reason to go wild for every turtle race.

So there you have it, turtle racing a true piece of Americana right in Lincoln Square on 1818 West Foster Avenue. Big Joe’s Turtle Races are a spectacle to see and every person should stop in once just to get a feel for them. Everybody’s a winner when it’s turtle racing night!