Becca Meets World

Random Thoughts by Becca

Posts tagged Nightlife

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Summer-Time in Chi

I recently had a conversation with someone about my life in Chicago.  We both agreed that Chicago is a great city, super affordable, tons to do, lots of young people, and the summers are awesome.  The person who I was speaking to explained to me that she had heard from so many people that summers in Chicago were the best, but no one had ever explained to her why.  Summer-time comes with vacations, warm weather, drinking on patios, and soaking up the sun on a beach or a friend’s pool.  However, you can enjoy doing this in most cities (except for Phoenix, you will melt and die).  What sets Chicago a part from cities like New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Austin, and Los Angeles (and so on, and so on)?  I am sure summer in all these cities are absolutely fabulous and fantastic, but I have come to especially appreciate summers in Chicago because it’s one of the only times of the year you can BE OUTSIDE and actually enjoy it!

Whether this is your first summer in Chicago (WELCOME, btw), you’re visiting friends in the Windy City, or you’ve lived here for years and just love trying new things, here are some things that Chicago Summers win at:

1) Cubs Games! (And White Sox games too, I guess…)  I can honestly tell you that I could not name 5 current players on the Cubs.  I also can honestly tell you that I’ve never sat through an entire game and watched the whole thing.  The best part about going to a Cubs game is sitting in the bleachers with your fellow drunk hecklers and enjoying an over-priced Bud Light.  The bleachers are definitely the best place to sit; there is sense of solidarity and unity in the bleachers.  Everyone gives the same level of f***s.  Going out in Wrigleyville after the game can be a bit of a mess, but being at Wrigley Field is a hoot!  I definitely suggest going to some afternoon games this summer.  Also, Groupon frequently posts deals with the roof tops near by where it’s a flat rate for your seat, food, and alcohol! #FTW! 

2) Music Festivals Galore! Between Lollapalooza, Pitchfork, Northcoast, Spring Awakening, and the neighborhood festivals, you could probably venture to a different music festival almost every weekend.  Some of these festivals bring in thousands and thousands of people and feature internationally acclaimed musicians such as Lady Gaga, Black Sabbath, Muse, Green Day, Black Keys, etc., while other festivals feature local musicians and are more low key.  No matter what kind of music you listen to or what your “scene” is, you’ll easily be able to find a place to enjoy some live music while you sip on craft or domestic beers and nom on local Chicago junk food. Last summer, I was feeling especially adventurous and tried to go to almost all the festivals for at least one day.  I have to say that was a little aggressive on my end.  I could actually write an entire blog entry on the music festivals in Chicago and my experience at them.  Here’s the SparksNotes version:

-Lolla is HUGE!  If you dig the line-up, it’s definitely worth the money.  I have gone the past two years and enjoyed myself.  It was a great way to welcome me to Chicago two summers ago, and Lady Gaga put on an A-MAZING show.  It can be over-whelming with the amount of people there, especially during the head-liners.  Definitely expect to wait in lines and crowds to leave the festival.  You will also probably spend at least $25 on Bud Light, and another $10 on food.  The food options at Lolla are actually really impressive.  Many of the restaurants in the city set-up booths at the festival, which is lovely for foodies such as myself.  Lolla is great, but even at the age of 23, I felt very old being there last summer (*ESPECIALLY AT THE PERRY’S TENT!*) 

(Being awkward at Perry’s)

-Pitchfork may as well be a hipster fashion show.  Last year it was unbearably hot at Pitchfork, so I could not fully enjoy myself at the shows.  I laid in the shade for most of the time I was there.  Pitchfork has amazing people watching.  The people watching at Lolla is mostly a parade of 18 year old girls wearing cut off shorts and the Forever21/ Urban Outfitters “Navajo Print” collection, and bros wearing basketball jerseys.  Pitchfork is Urban Outfitters meets thrift store meets DIY ripped tights.  Pitchfork is definitely more low key than Lolla but still features some fabulous bands.  This year I’m looking forward to seeing Sleigh Bells and Hot Chip on the one day I’m going! 

-Northcoast….so intense.  If you’re really into the electro scene, I’d definitely check it out.  I will warn you that it is a very young crowd, and it is a very drugged out crowd.  However, it that does not bother you, absolutely go to it.  Some really fun DJs and groups go to Northcoast every year, and tickets are very affordable.  

You can check out other bands and local musicians at the neighborhood festivals, such as Do-Division, Wicker Park Festival, West Town Fest, Green Fest, and so on.  Basically, you can see a different live band every weekend of the summer!

3) Taste of Chicago! I actually haven’t been to the Taste of Chicago since I was a little kid, but it brings it people from all across the city and state, so it must be pretty awesome.  Tons of restaurants in the city set up booths where you can sample some of their menu.  I’d definitely come to this ready to throw down some cash, because you can’t sample only one! 

4) Farmer’s Markets, EVERYWHERE! They are literally all over the city, including the Loop (great spot to go to on your lunch break).  Go find one.  Buy some flowers or some herbs, and a crepe. 

5) Gay Pride Parade! If you know me at all or have been following my blog, I think it’s pretty obvious that I am a gay man at heart. I also love and appreciate any excuse to bust out my neon spandex, raver rainbow beads, sequin fanny pack, and body glitter.  I had a great time at the parade this year, although I was only at the actual parade for about 10 minutes.  Seeing thousands of people gathered to support the gay community was extremely heartwarming and uplifting.  I’m glad that so many people came out to support the LGBT community, and show off some skin! 

(Rainbow nails was one of the proudest moments of my life!)

6) Patio Drinking/Day Drinking!  This may be my favorite part of the summer.  Before you’re quick to call me an alcoholic, let me explain.  I find it much more appealing to enjoy a beer or a refreshing cocktail on a nice summer afternoon than bro-out all night and be hung over on a hot, humid Sunday and waste the day.  There is actually nothing worse than being hung over when it’s 95 degrees and humid.  But, enjoying a summer time brew or some sangria on a patio or rooftop sounds about as good as it gets!  We are lucky that we live so close to many fabulous patios!  

Division Street has really blown up with the patio seating since we’ve moved here.  Great spots to enjoy a drink on a warm summer night or afternoon are Bangers and Lace, The Anthem, Moonshine, Prasino, Division Ale House, Easy Bar, The Boundary, Jerry’s, Janik’s, and so many more!  A really popular spot in Wicker Park to enjoy tacos and margs is Big Star (but no shocker there!).  I’d suggest trying that place out as a happy hour after work.  It’s less crowded right after work than it is later on in the evening.  It really is worth the wait though.  The tacos are amazing and the guac is a must-have.  

If you have friends with rooftops of backyards, GO TO THEM!  Offer to have a potluck and you can bring the chips and dip and make a lovely batch of sangria!  Summer BBQs, pool parties, and patio drinking is what makes summer awesome, regardless of what neighborhood you live in and if you’re wearing a bro tank or a fedora (or both!).

I hope everyone is having a wonderful summer, and taking advantage of everything that Chicago has to offer!  Next time someone asks you, “But why are Chicago summers THAT awesome??”, link them this post, and said, “NUFF SAID!”

Don’t forget to wear sunscreen! 

xoxo

Filed under summer chicago cubs baseball food music lollapalooza pitchfork northcoast hipsters bros patios day drinking rooftops nightlife wicker park summertime

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Sh*t People in Wicker Park Say

For the past couple months, Sh*t XYZ Says has been blowing up.  It all started with a man dressed as a young woman who impersonated typical young females with the help of Juliette Lewis in the YouTube sensation, Sh*t Girls Say.  I blogged that video as soon as I saw it, and said, this is going to blow up.  Who called it!?! 

Anyway, little did any of us know that for the next couple months, more videos would follow, such as Sh*t Gay Guys Say, Sh*t Black Girls Say, Sh*t Dudes Say, Sh*t Frat Guys Say, Sh*t Christians Say to Jews, Sh*t Jewish Girls Say, Sh*t No One Says, Sh*t People in L.A. Say, and the my most recent favorite Sh*t Chicagoean’s Say (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ofy5gNkKGOo).

After watching this video a couple times, my friends and I realized that although much of it was pretty spot on, the video really should have been called, “Sh*t People in Lincoln Park/ Wrigleyville Say”.  Coming from Wicker Park, I LOLed at the video of course, but if I were to make another Sh*t Someone Says video, it would be “Sh*t People in Wicker Park Say”.   So without further ado, here are is what Sh*t People in Wicker Park Say:

-OMG, every guy at this party looks like Where’s Waldo meets Lumberjack.

-Ew! I had to take the Red Line, it’s so gross.

-Do you know a place I can get prescriptionless glasses?

-Nice beanie!

-Ugh, his jeans were skinnier than mine.

-I don’t drink Starbucks.

-Is this gluten free?

-I’m only smoking this cigarette to look cool.

-You’re going out in Lincoln Park?…ew

-I don’t shop at Urban Outfitters!  This is totally vintage.

-Ugh, the Bongo Room has a hour and a half wait…I guess we could grab coffee at Wormhole while we wait.

-The Red Line is soooo slow.

-You’re going to Wrigleyville?…ew

-I’m going to a concert tonight at the Double Door, you’ve probably never heard of the group.

-We ended up at Flat Iron after Debonair sucked.

-I love house parties.

-PBR!

-Do you have soy milk?

-Everyone’s moving to Logan Square!

-Wait, do you live in actual Wicker Park?  Or do you live in Ukrainian Village?  Bucktown?  West Town?

-You can get anywhere on the Ashland bus.

-The Brown Line is sooo slow.

-Nice mustache!

-There’s a hour wait to get on the hour and a half waiting list for Big Star, we should just get in the 45 minute line at Violet Hour while we wait.

-Ooh, they serve brunch too!

-Why are all the coffee shops always so crowded?

-I love talking to sexually ambiguous guys at bars.

-Do you go to Wicker Park fitness?

-We ended up at Evilolive….shit.

-He has a tattoo of the PBR logo, so cool.

-Well, this bar has a photobooth.

-I can’t tell if that’s a girl or a guy….

-Oh my god, I recognize that guy from Okcupid.

-Do you know Michael at Starbucks?

-It’s right by Six Corners.

-I got it at the Renegade Craft Fair!

-BYOB!

-That poor girl needs pants!

-That restaurant closed!  I guess they couldn’t hack it on Division.

-You don’t have a bike?…Ooh.

-I got this dress at a vintage boutique, definitely NOT Urban Outfitters.

-Does the Damen bus actually exist?

-I’d rather be shot than be seen on Hubbard Street.

-You’re going to Wrigleyville?  Have fun getting thrown up on.

-I can’t tell if he’s gay or not!

-I got another tattoo!

-I love carrying around canvas totes with weird animals on it.

-I love dive bars.

-Do you want to check out this new, underground DJ with me?

-Did you hear there’s a new restaurant opening?

-Bottomless mimosas!

-Everyone at this bar is wearing the same outfit.

-I won’t pay more than $5 for a beer.

-Is it on the Blue Line? Ok good, or else I’m not going.

-That’s so mainstream.

-I don’t have Facebook.

-Why is everyone moving to Wicker Park?! Go back to where you came from!

-You can only tell it’s a bar cause of the Old Style sign outside.

-I’m thinking about becoming a Vegan.

-I’m NOT a hipster, I just have hipster interests.

Maybe one day that will become an actual YouTube sensation!  A girl can dream…

Until next time…

Filed under chicago wicker park illinois lincoln park wrigleyville youtube shit girls say PBR Hipsters Bars Nightlife

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Clear Eyes, Full Hearts…Can’t Lose!

Some of you may be wondering how to make new friends, survive the weekly grind, let off some steam after work, and stay fit during the winter.  I have the answer.  Intramural sports!!!!  This Fall, my room mate, Liz, and I signed up for intramural dodgeball.  Actually, DJ DODGEBALL!  We were getting bored of our weekly routine and thought it would be entertaining, since neither of us have thrown a ball probably since Middle School.  Without knowing what to expect, we signed up through Chicago Sport and Social and started the epic journey to what is now known to the world as TEAM BLUE BALLS.

Every Monday evening, a very motley crew meets up around North and Clybourne to throw some balls around.  We all started as strangers, and have grown into a family, nay, an army of Blue Ballers who are bustin’ balls every Monday at the gym and every Friday at the bars.  Our team bonded instantly over beers and $1 tacos as Sullys.  We even made bro-tanks that say “Bustin Your Balls since 2011”.  Needless to say, our team is united and is always DTP. 

(Blue Ball does McGees Happy Hour in LP, taken to a whole new level.)

(Blue Balls does 80’s party)

(Blue Balls does Wise Fools)

Clearly since joining my dodgeball team, I have had no other social interaction.

Tonight is the last night of our Fall season.  We are currently in 2nd place in our division, and we are most likely going to the championship game tonight against our rivals…DODGE-ZILLA!!!!  I have never have the pleasure of playing this daunting team, but those who have have barely survived.  After numerous e-mails today with inspiring and terrifying words about dominating in dodgeball and being the underdog, I think we’re all ready to fight this battle tonight. 

I can’t wait to take down some dodgeballers tonight!  For my fellow Blue Ballers, just remember the wise words of Coach Taylor…

Clear Eyes, Full Hearts…CAN’T LOSE!!!

Filed under Dodgeball sports chicago intramural sports team bonding social nightlife

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Chillin in the Hood

When you’re a 20-something living in a big city, a very important talent to learn is finding new and cheap ways to drink. As stated in an earlier post, I love our neighborhood because there are numerous hole-in-the-wall bars that are laid-back and cheap.  I love discovering new ones, and it’s even more exciting when they have DAILY DRINK SPECIALS! Whether it’s a week night Happy Hour to catch up with your room mates that you see every day, or a weekend when you want to let loose and meet new people, Wicker Park is an up-and-coming hot-spot of real and fake dive-bars, lounges, and even some dance clubs.  This entry will be the first of many of my reviews of local bars and restaurants.

            One of our favorite spots to go to is Rainbo Club on the corner of Division and and Damen.  From the outside, it seems like a total dive.  However, when you walk in, you are bombarded with locals covered with tattoos and showing off their goods in their skinny jeans.  This place is known for harboring local artists and musicians.  The art on the walls changes frequently and is always something worth looking at.  In the back there’s a photobooth that’s either broken or has a long line of people waiting to see how many people they can fit in it (I think our record is 5).  There is also a Harley Davidson-themed pinball machine, and four cozy booths.  Most importantly, the drinks are cheap!  A draft of a good-quality beer (e.g. Pointe Pale Ale) and well-drinks are $3, and nicer beers (e.g. Two Brothers) are $4.  There is also a large selection of bottled beers.  I recommend going to this bar on a week night if you’re looking to grab a beer and catch up with some friends.  Week nights are usually more relaxed at Rainbo, while during the weekends, you’ll be lucky to find a space to stand.  I give this bar 4.5 stars for the cool ambiance, cheap drinks, and great people-watching.  

            Another local dive is Gold Star Bar on Division and Wood.  You can spot this place from down the block because of its bright sign.  This bar has cheap drinks, a pool table, and always an interesting crowd.  This bar is definitely less hipster and more of a diverse group of patrons.  The first time I went here was when Mary and I decided to go on our own personal Wicker Park bar crawl.  We were easily the youngest there and the only females.  The crowd is always different, with a vast range in age and intoxication level.  I would recommend going to Gold Star on a week night for a quick drink and game of pool, or a weekend to meet some other dive-bar enthusiasts.  I give this bar 4 “Gold” stars (haha).

            Division Ale House on Division and Damen is more of an Irish Pub than a dive-bar, but we love it all the same because of its daily drink specials, food, and board games.  Go to their website to check out their daily drink specials (http://divisionalehouse.com/wordpress/?page_id=678).  The last time we ventured to this bar, we ended up playing Jenga, which was a failure because playing Jenga while drinking is probably not the best tactic, and Connect Four.  Beer + Board games are always a good combination in my book. Division Ale House is also one of the only bars I know of in the neighborhood that has…wait for it…BEER TOWERS!!!  DAH (shortening the name) is a great spot to go to with a big group because you can get your beer tower and play drinking games (they have decks of cards behind the bar). I give this bar 4 stars. 

(Bro-ing out at DAH…what we do best)

            Next-door from Division Ale House is Easy Bar.  Easy Bar should be a lot cooler/ more fun than it is.  It has pool, two bar areas, and even a place where you can dance in the back.  However, in the couple times I have been there, it hasn’t been that fantastic.  Maybe I am being too picky.  But, after Yelping this place for inspiration on this entry, I came across a review that said it perfectly, “it’s a little bit of lincoln park in wicker park:  it’s flat-screen tvs meet jukebox, ex-sorority girls meet quasi-hipster photography types, a bud light washed down with a pbr.  aside from an opportunity for social observation, on weekends i am largely indifferent” (from Amy X in Chicago, IL).  A good thing about Easy Bar is that it does have daily specials (http://www.easybarchicago.com/easybar.html).  I also give Easy Bar 3 stars because it’s not “easy” to have fun there.  

            Another bar on Division that I have ventured to is Fifty/50 which was rated the Best Sports Bar in America, and I don’t know why.  Probably because there are tons of TVs on all three floors, the “best wings in Chicago”, a plethora of bros, and hot waitresses.  Apparently Vince Vaughn has been spotted there from time to time, which would give me a good enough reason to go there.  The drinks are pricier, but they do have “Beer Cocktails” which are fabulous and over-priced, as well as awesome food. At Fifty/50 it always feels like a Friday or Saturday night, for better or for worse.  It’s very loud and plays pretty obnoxious music, like the Black Eyed Peas and Pitbull, but on the weekends, WOOOO! I would recommend going here to grab dinner and watch a game.   I give this sports bar 4 stars because the food is delicious and beer cocktails are a great option for female bros such as ourselves.

            There are tons of other bars on Division and around this area, but I will move on more towards the Damen stop on the Blue Line, also known as “The Crotch”.  The Crotch is in the heart of Wicker Park and is crawling with Hipsters.  The bars around here are not as divey, but there are worth checking out.  

            A favorite spots of ours is Violet Hour, which is a modern Speak-Easy on Damen right by the El stop across from Big Star.  I would recommend hitting this place on a week night to avoid the crazy line that goes down the block.  The cocktails at Violet Hour are all $12, but are worth the money.  It is cozy, dimly lit, and has a really sexy ambiance. This place is perfect for a Girls Night Out, a date, or in our case, a great place to go celebrate a new job offer!  My favorite drink there is Romeo and Juliet.  Beware though, after two drinks you’ll be stumbling to the 7-11 next-door for some drunchies (drunk munchies).  I give Violet Hour 5 stars, but only go when you’re willing to throw down the money.

            One of the only dance clubs in Wicker Park that I have been or know about is Debonair Social Club on Milwaukee Ave.  Although this club plays some great Top 40 remixes (right up Mary’s alley), I have yet to have a great time there.  This place has tons of potential.  It has a really cool set up, and cool lighting on the dance floor, but the crowd is not that great.  You’ve got your pretentious wanna-be hipsters complaining in the corner that Katy Perry is being played while sipping their PBRs, the drunk ex-sorority girls dancing unnecessarily provocatively, bros trying to figure out how to dance with these girls, and us.  We’re the ones trying to buy drinks at the bar, realizing that it’s a $10 minimum on your card, and the ATMs are always broken.  This never leads to anything good.  The best part of my nights at Debonair are chatting up the ladies working in the women’s bathroom about how annoying everyone is and giving them a $3 tip for a lollipop. I always leave this place thinking how it wasn’t worth the money or the hangover.  I give this place 2.5 stars because given the right night or group of friends with you, it could be a lot of fun.  

(I wonder who these people can be…notice the hot shirtless man on the left)

            The last bar I am going to write about is the Flat Iron, which is a late-night bar next to Debonair.  The Flat Iron has a punk rock vibe to it.  There are pool tables, a good amount of seating, and two bars.  The drinks are decently priced, but nothing special.  I would suggest going here if it’s past 2 am, and you’re looking for a place to grab a drink and do some people watching.  It draws in an interesting crowd because it is late-night and the vibe it has.  The walls are covered with bizarre, animal murals.  The crowd there ranges from Hipsters, punks, and people who are in desperate need of a drink because Debonair sucked that bad.  I’ve only been there a couple times, but I would definitely go back.  The cool art in the walls and the people watching make it a bar worth checking out.  I give this place 3.5 stars.  

(Enter at your own risk…)

            I hope this gives you all a brief summary of some of local Wicker Park Watering Holes where we have been spending our nights the past 8 months.  If you’re ever in our neighborhood and want a grab a beer, hopefully this will give you a good idea of where you could go.  There are countless other places that we haven’t tried yet.  Next time you’re venturing out in Wicker Park, shout me a holler and we’d be more than happy to explore new and cheap places to drink!  Until next time…

Filed under Wicker Park bars drinking beer nightlife chicago drink deals hipsters fun happy hour

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Black Wednesday

So apparently tonight, “Black Wednesday”, is the biggest night to go out among college students and people still living in their glory days, such as myself.  It’s the only Wednesday of the year that you are 100% positive you can rage cage and not have to worry about going to class or work the next day.  College students everywhere return home to party with their high school friends or new friends from college from their hometown. 

What I always found funny about going out around Thanksgiving at home is that everyone from my high school felt that they had to prove something.  Like, “Hey, remember me??? I was suchhhh a LLOOSSSERRR in high school, but I went to college and now I drink, SO I’M SUPEERR KEWL!!! Let’s do dranks some time soon???”  You both know as you’re drinking your Coors Light at the bar with dollar bills on the ceiling that drinks, coffee, lunch, whatever, is not going to happen.  You weren’t friend in high school, so now that you’re both “cool” and can talk about what sorority your in and how the guys in college are sooo much better than they were in high school, clearly, you can be best friends forever (LOLz.) Another scenario is your roll up to your high school bar (because everyone, no matter where you live, has one bar that EVERYONE from their high school gathers to on Black Wednesday, to “accidently” run into ex-boyfriends and old frenemies) with your new, stylish, cool college friends/ sorority sisters/ frat brothers.  You say, “Oh hey, I can’t bulieve you’re here tooo! Smallll f-ing world.  Well this is my friend Sally.  She’s from Hollywood, and used to party with Li Lo pre Paris Hilton and Brit Brit.  But she chose to come home with me.”  #FTW!!!

(Bro-ing out in Old Town Scottsdale with my high school peeps last year)

As we get older, and college is coming more and more in the past (sad face), gossip goes from, “O-M-G guess who went to rehab?” “So and so got super fat!” “So and so’s gotten super cool!” to “Well guess who’s preggers??” “So and so is engaged!!! I hope I get an invite to the wedding!!” “So and so has been married for 2 years and has 2 kids and a mini-van!” Oy vey.  And it’s only going to get worse!

The downside to going out on Black Wednesday is that you have to endure a hung over Thanksgiving.  This could be good and bad.  On the plus side, instead of hung over brunch with your roomies, you get free and delicious food.  And it never runs out!  You can look like crap because it’s just your family, and they’ll love you regardless.  However, the downside is that you are hungover with your family.  This would not fly in my household.  I’d get looks of judgement and questions of why I smell like alcohol. 

Anyway, I will most likely be bro-ing out in Lincoln Park tonight.  For everyone else who is already home with their families and friends from high school, hope you have a great time rage caging tonight and have lots of awkward conversations with people you haven’t seen in years and no longer have anything in common with!  Everyone, be safe and have fun!

Filed under bars black wednesday chicago family friends high school nightlife thanksgiving scottsdale