Chicago’s Retro Venues

Everything in life is cyclical. Our fashion, music tastes, even home décor, mimic the styles of the decades before. We as a culture are growing into a certain appreciation for years past, which in turn has bled into the love for a retro experience when going out. Disco parties, 80’s rock concerts and speakeasies have become a new craze, sending people in a frenzy to book reservations at places all around the city. This phenomenon has catapulted us back into the good old days, where times seemed much simpler.

Chicago has a plethora of spots that speak to these experiences. I myself have been to a few, nourishing that hunger for a good night out. Whether you’re up for grabbing a beer, throwing on the bell bottoms or just sitting and listening to some jazz, these are the places to be.

The Venues

Lazy Bird – You’ll have to enter from the Hoxton Hotel, but as you make your way down, you can find Lazy Bird. With a menu of 52 cocktails to choose from, and live music, this is the place for low-key, jazz lovers alike. In this classic cocktail lounge, you find yourself in velvet seats, immersed in dark, colorful lighting and near a bar with ingredients you will not see on other menus. The wait to get in can be a bit long, with no reservations, but it’s worth the experience.

Room 13 – In speakeasy nature, Room 13 keeps company with those who are in the know. For residents of the Old Chicago Inn, as well as Room 13 members, this prohibition era-inspired bar is a well-kept secret. Cocktail flights, representing the drinks of choice from a jazz-influenced time, as well as historical descriptions are a part of the package. Classic musical pieces flow from the speakers as you enjoy an exclusive experience. Proper dress is required.

Beauty Bar – Based on a vintage 1960’s hair salon, Beauty Bar speaks to its name. The bar dons dome shaped chairs for a blow dry, poppy leather couches and mirrors, eccentric lighting and of course, free manicures. Walk to the back and you’ll find a dance floor packed with people lit under a disco ball. Theme nights are a given here, ranging from 70’s disco to a 2010’s bangers. Let’s just say you’ll leave as a satisfied customer.

Welcome Back – “A place that no matter if you have been there or not, you immediately feel like a regular”. I mean, there’s no better way to put it. Welcome Back, located in Logan Square, truly encapsulates the feel of a 1970’s-1980’s watering hole. The atmosphere plays into the warm, inviting feelings of years past with dark wood, comfortable seating and a checkerboard floor. Not to mention their food menu, which features many a comfort food (I’m looking at you, Fried Bologna Sandwich!). The mix of food, throwback tunes and easy conversation will keep you returning to the Welcome Back Bar.

Hanggee Uppe– In Gold Coast, the Hangge-Uppe blasts music long after other places have yelled “last call”. Listed as one of Chicago’s most fun bars, the Hangge-Uppe provides goers with a night of dancing and cheap drinks that is sure to get you in the groove. Walls lined with memorabilia, records and lights galore, you can’t help but swing your hips to tunes of the 70’s and 80’s. The bar is split into two floors, one floor creating a space for a more current vibe, while the basement becomes your new favorite retro arena. No matter what you’re in the mood for, the Hangge-Uppe will suffice.

Whistler – Your go-to for an ever-changing list of classics. Seven nights a week, you’ll find a new performing artist to appreciate, as their stage hosts an eclectic variety of tunes, ranging from live music to an entire vinyl set in a dimly lit, immersive bar. Not only is the music always changing, but the menu is, too. Cocktails, beer and wine galore, you’re sure to try something new each time you go. And let’s not forget about the art installations Whistler showcases every other month. A bar for everyone!

Drink responsibly, have fun, and allow yourself to transport to a time before ours.

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