Leading up to Easter, I endured three straight nights of DJing on all three sides of Chicago. First was Simone's on the south side. This was Wednesday, at a bar I've never been to but have heard nice things about. It's located on 18th street, on the other side of the railroad tracks near Halsted. Just east of these tracks is an apartment above a little Mexican grocery store where I lived at least three different times throughout college. It was a place where a lot of kids crashed for a night/week/month, either on a couch or floor. I always brought my own air mattress, so I was living it up.
Simone's didn't yet exist when I was living in Pilsen, but the neighborhood has seen a bit of gentrification since Simone's and other places like it came in. It's a pretty spacious place, more of a restaurant than a bar. My DJ booth was in the middle of everything, up a small flight of stairs in a space-agey cage. Pinball machines made for wall decorations. 80s' movies played on the TVs. But everybody remained seated throughout the night. There wasn't a dance floor, so it was a fun, low-pressure night for this rookie DJ.
One thing I learned during this gig trilogy is the value of a friendly staff. The waitresses, bartenders and management at Simone's were all very cool. They gave me 10 drink tickets. Obviously not all for myself, but for any friends I invited over. Only a few of my buddies showed up, but we couldn't even get through all of those tickets. All said, I'd be happy to go south again for another set at Simone's.
Thursday started out huge. I woke up to a call from Chipotle, letting me know that my business card had been picked out of their fishbowl, meaning I had won 10 free burritos. I took this as incentive to get people to come out to my gig for the evening. Whoever showed up to my gig that night would get one of the free burritos. I was scheduled to spin in the bar area of the Bottom Lounge, and planned to arrive a little early to watch the Bulls game on their TVs. Sounds exciting, right? It all went according to plan, I had my burritos and Bulls at Bottom Lounge, but then the Bottom Lounge staff came into play.
I don't know if these people want to maintain their punk cred or what, but most of them were remarkably rude and unpleasant. So even if they asked me back, nah. I won't DJ there ever again. In spite of all the good things that happened on this day, I left the west side feeling pretty cranky. I actually don't even want to go to the Bottom Lounge for a show if I can help it now. I mean, who's still trying to be punk? Wrong century, kids.
But the best experience was Friday in Wicker Park. I was booked at Rodan for 10pm to 2am, moved ahead from a week later. Literally five minutes before I went on, the manager asked me aside. There was a mix up. Apparently, every 4th Friday of the month at Rodan is reserved for the Soul-Glo guys. So there was a double booking. I suggested just going for an hour, and then returning a week later for my full set. She and the Soul-Glo DJs agreed to this, and Rodan paid me better for that one hour than any other gig I've had so far.
The staff were apologetic, professional and courteous all night, and I cannot wait to go back there this Friday (4/29) to work with those good people again. If I could get anything regular anywhere, Rodan wins by a mile. So if you need to get out this weekend, come to the north side's crotch and we'll hang out at Rodan. If people start dancing, we might even be able to call it a party.