Saturday ‘morning’ got off to a slow start, but once we got out of the apartment, Chicago Rose took me to Signature Room at the top of the John Hancock building. He explained that the Sears Tower would have been 4 times the wait and that there was no restaurant, so I agreed that this was the best option. The views were pretty damn spectacular.
Chicago Rose was determined to give me all kinds of context for the city, so he took me up to the northern side to the gay ‘beach’ (on the lake) and drove me through Andersonville (the other gay neighborhood). We got caught in Wrigley-Field traffic as the Cubs were just getting out of a game (Chicago’s best feature is the fact that its sports mascots are the Cubs and the Bears) and watched drunk straights stumble between bars. After a disco nap for me and a workout for C. Rose, we stopped into Sidetracks for a pre-dinner drink. The bar is gorgeous! It’s got the space of a club, but it’s divided into about 7 or 8 areas of varying size, including a heated roof deck.
Kit Kat’s was our destination for dinner. From Chicago Rose’s description, I thought it’d be like Lips, but the drag queens there were solely performers (not servers). That night happened to feature C. Rose’s favorite queen, a bigger black girl who performed to Keyshia Cole, Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. And the food was really good! On our left was an interracial pair of guys sitting on the same side of their two-person table, and on the right was a table of about 10 black men and women, two of whom were in the gospel group that was to be featured at the House of Blues gospel brunch we were planning to attend on Sunday. We had pleasant exchanges with both parties.
image from chicago.metromix.com
This is where the blur of bars happened. Everything in Boystown is pretty much right on N. Halstead St. As we were heading into Rosco’s, the young'ns' bar, we noticed a go-go in the window across the street at Cocktail. He was literally in the large window facing the street waving and gesturing at passersby trying to lure them in. I was determined to head there next.
As we walked into Cocktail, we ran into the interracial pair from Kit Kat. We joined them in the back section of the bar, which was much less crowded (since everyone was there to see the go-go dance on the stage in the front area). I soon learned that just about every gay bar on this strip had more to it than the first area one sees when one walks in. C. Rose asked the pair if they were a couple, and the Latino one immediately said no. Later, I asked the white guy if those were hickeys on his neck. He laughed and elbowed the Latino guy, revealing their source.
We talked with the alleged non-couple for a while before they invited us to join them at Scarlet, which ended up being my favorite of the bars. The music was all pop, the crowd seemed young, and dancing on top of furniture was en vogue! But after some time, the alleged non-couple convinced us to go to Berlin, a rather divey club a few blocks off the main strip. We met a rather cute cub who was the leader of his Canadian clique. He seemed to be getting quite friendly with me towards the end of the night, and under any other circumstances, we’d’ve probably been making out up against the wall.
It was about 3:30 when we ditched for a 24 hour diner where our hot muscle-cub waiter and I had painfully un-flirty banter about RuPaul’s Drag Race and how he meets all the queens when they eat there while they’re in town. His pick for the coolest: Jessica Wild.
When we got to House of Blues the next afternoon, the gospel brunch was sold out. We talked to the hostess, who said she’d see what she could do. In the mean time, she'd invited us to check out the artwork in the downstairs restaurant, which wasn't open yet. And whom did we see when we walked into the restaurant: Cedric Nunley and the Brethren (the guys we'd met the night before at Kit Kat who were headlining the show)! Not only did we end up hanging out and talking with them for a good half hour, but they got us into the brunch to see their show for free!
This isn't the show we saw, and it's not their full group, but I love this song, and they do it so well:
It was a good breakfast and a great show. I was surprised when I realized that the band was only an organist and a drummer. But with his all-male chorale (including a beyond-first tenor who gave the sopranos in my youth choir a run for their money... full-voice), it was all the sound they needed. And it was extra fun because one could tell they were used to engaging a crowd that wasn't used to the participatory nature of gospel music. The audience-participation-factor came in handy for the singers since it was their 3rd show of the day. But they showed no sign of fatigue, and the audience loved them.
After the show, I kinda just wanted to get tipsy and people-watch, but Chicago Rose insisted that I see Millennium Park, where I saw trees, grass and a huge bean.
We got back to Boystown with time for one drink at Sidetrack, where they were doing their version of Musical Mondays at Splash.
image from sidetrackchicago.com
The flight home quick and uneventful (thanks to the super-strong screwdriver the flight attendant fixed me and didn't even collect the drink ticket C. Rose had given me). We landed early, but the captain informed us that in all of LeGuardia airport, there was not a gate to deplane passengers.
"It'll be about a half hour..."
"They're saying another 15 minutes..."
"It'll be about another 10 minutes..."
An hour after we'd landed, it was just after 12:30, and I still had to get to Washington Heights.
Did I mention Southwest sent a $75 voucher (which means I have to fly with them again). Yeah.
Click here to check out my trip to Boston with the Crew.