At times your frenzied social schedule can take a toll. Your “usual” has lost its usual potency, your companions’ amusing sparkle is fading, and your feet hurt. At such times it helps to have a hideout.
Let me state outright,
The Hideout is not an establishment that everyone will enjoy. Located on a stretch of Wabansia off North Elston, surrounded by industrial buildings and city trucks sits a nondescript shanty-like house. Enter the low-ceilinged, tight-fitting front room and you will find the best kind of bar – a few favorite beers on tap, nice bartenders, and best of all, no pretense. Sure there are some hipsters floating about, but they blend in with union workers, vintage dressers, and nondescript folks just grabbing a brew. The demeanor is lighthearted and laid back; not too cool or too anything else.
I first arrive at The Hideout to experience The Interview Show, one of a series of regular events and concerts hosted there. On the first Friday of each month, guests from all walks of culture, business, politics, and community submit to an interview by Mark Bazer. Bazer, a columnist for the RedEye and the Tribune.com, keeps the conversations fresh and comical for the two hour show.
Fashionistas have flocked to Hideout for my first time at The Interview Show, a demographic I gather is typically underrepresented here. They want to see Tavi Gevinson, the fourteen year old fashion blogger. I hesitate to use oft-repeated descriptions of Tavi including “wunderkind” “phenom” and “sensation,” but her unique insight has become much appreciated by fashion fans, including myself. I have been following Tavi’s website for over two years, and her blend of intelligence and idealism combined with the youthful vulnerability that make her site more significant than “just clothes” is even more enchanting in person. While Tavi waxes poetic on the nostalgia of the 1990’s fashion (particularly Courney Love as muse), Bazer challenges, “I don’t know, I was there – you should have seen my dorm room.” Ones early teen years are not anyone’s most comfortable, but to recount those moments of experimentation (we are talking clothes here) online for all to see, takes balls. Tavi admits she doesn’t like to go back and read old posts. While the fashionistas bombard Tavi after the show and her image at New York Fashion Week a few weeks later appears everywhere, she describes the teenagers who yell from their car as she walks home from school, making fun of her blue wig.
Tonight’s other guests are equally interesting. Bethany McLean describes her latest book about America’s recent financial meltdown in compelling yet understandable terms. City Provisions founder, Cleetus Friedman, talks about the growth of his venture, completely convincing me to sign up for a Farm Dinner sometime this summer. Archer Prewett of The Sea and Cake chats about his latest projects and plays some new solo jams, so new they have not yet been named. Finally, the show is closed out by a rousing performance by Jazz-Gospel group, Come Sunday.
Just when I needed one, The Interview Show has become my new favorite monthly ritual. On tap for this month’s edition are Avenues Chef Curtis Duffy, Patrick Sansone and John Stirrat of The Autumn Defense, General Director of the Chicago Opera Theater, Brian Dickie, and comedienne Beth Stelling. The Interview Show takes place in the rear performance space of the joint. It’s roomier than the front area, but seats are limited so remember to arrive early.
The next time I visit it is considerably quieter, although a Motown dance party rages on in the next room. Throughout the evening I glance over to watch the thinning crowd of revelers break it down. A full-figured songstress claps and grooves at the bar. It would appear some sort of wool hat match-off appears to be taking place, and I observe the competing styles that fill the room as their owners unknowingly imbibe. I doubt that it is ever very quiet, but a good place to sip and chat nonetheless. When it’s time to leave, a friend and I pile into his car and a third-party thrusts herself into his backseat. “You’re not Maggie,” she accuses. “Where is Maggie?” No. We are not. It seems innocent enough, but we lock the doors after sending her on her way, the streetlights are a little dimmer in this secluded corner.
Bootleggers, blue-collar regulars, and a stream of bands of varying degrees of fame have kept this hideout in operation since the 1930’s. As their website states, “It’s not for everyone, but for every one!” So now that you know where to find me…please don’t come looking.
1354 West Wabansia Ave.
Chicago IL, 60642