Chicago ’ s newly Beauty Bar
soon after my college roommate and I turned 21, we embarked on an L.A. adventure that included a arrest at the city ’ s then-newest cabaret : the retro-salon-themed Beauty Bar, nowadays a national chain with locations from Vegas to New York. There was a lineage down the block, which we—two distinctly non-VIP Kentuckians—somehow skipped. I however have a photograph from that night of me sucking in my impudence under one of the antique hair’s-breadth dryers alongside a female child I ’ five hundred precisely met who, in true L.A. fashion, is more than about celebrated these days, playing Abby on NCIS .
When I heard a Chicago location was opening this form in the old Sonotheque quad, I got out that video and analyze my ten-years-ago face. I tried to remember everything I could about Beauty Bar, which amounted to : bathetic, loud, and kind of fun. then I thought about how promptly concept bars come and go, and I wondered how a chain that ’ randomness been around for so long is still expanding .
A week after the browning automatic rifle ’ s Chicago establish, I gathered a few friends to find out. “ This was Sonotheque ? ” one asked. “ I barely recognize it. ” “ I know ; don ’ thyroxine you love it ? ” I exclaimed, reaching out to touch a aglitter teal blue wall. Though we ’ five hundred aimed to arrive early enough to beat the delay for the celebrated $ 10 martini-and-manicure special—which starts at 5 post meridiem nightly and continues until 11 post meridiem or later—we first gear had to order a drink, then get on the tilt for a manicure : basically a fancy polish exchange for girls or a hand massage, file, and buff for guys. “ Two Perms, please, ” I said to the pretty, tattoo bartender. “ Um, those are in truth impregnable, ” she warned, knitting her brows in refer. “ We can handle it, ” I assured her. My date took one sip ( Sailor Jerry rum, plus lime, cranberry, and orange juices ) and pronounced it an alcoholic Skittles.
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meanwhile, a friend who ’ s a sound technician determined about finding the DJ to request a bulk adjustment. It was a respite when Fabulette, who spins 1960s-girl-group hits every first Thursday, lowered the bop to a conversation-friendly degree, allowing my pal Jenny to start in on her evaluation of the room—and everything else. “ It ’ s lusciously disgusting, ” she declared. “ Diamond chandeliers ! And look, ” she said, pointing to patrons in pencil skirts and peep-toe heels, “ the clientele has come in costume. ”
We passed an hour or so in a chatty bunch, awaiting our manicures and watching the hipsters twist on the dance floor. For some, Beauty Bar ’ s DJ batting order is a bigger draw than the cheap and bibulous polish change ; big names have included members of Vampire Weekend and Passion Pit. And therein, I think, lies the descry ’ mho staying power : A fun plaza to dance and a frolic ex post facto shtik never truly go out of style, and the latter makes this blithe sofa less intimidating than a full-fledged cabaret. Just watch out for the bar ’ s lank stools. possibly it was besides many Perms, but we saw colleague patrons tip over every few minutes.
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Staring at that old photograph again back at home, I can alone hope my own count holds up a well as Beauty Bar ’ second. possibly ten years isn ’ thyroxine that long. After all, those disco-ball earrings are inactive in the repertoire.
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GO: BEAUTY BAR
1444 W. Chicago Ave. beautybar.com
photograph : Chris Guillen