Take a funky 70’s-style lounge and combine it with a healthy dose of queer and you’ll get Dorothy Downstairs, the recently re-opened lesbian cocktail bar that is making a name for itself underneath Split-Rail in Chicago’s West Town. The world is better with more disco balls and is best when spaces exist that encourage the LGBTQ+ community to come and dwell comfortably which makes Dorothy Downstairs a home run.
The name of the lounge comes from a 20th-century euphemism, “friend of Dorothy’s”, that was used to refer to gay people. This phrase gave folks the ability to subtlety discuss their sexuality during an era that did not tolerate openness on the topic. Its usage as the name of this cocktail bar parallels the feeling of the space – intimate and discreet. The red door that leads to the lounge has a general “lounge” sign on the outside but no other obvious indicator that you’re about to enter a sensational space full of red velvet and rounded corners.
There’s a little something for everyone once you’re inside – seating that parallels conversation pits which had their heyday in the 50s through 70s give you the ability to truly lounge while more formal art-deco chairs huddle around tables for a more stable option. There’s a photo booth, a dance floor, and a beautiful bar in the middle of it all that serves up drinks that go by names like “Love on Me” and “Celestials, Too”. It’s a dreamy space with a lot of heart and a felt sense of community that’ll keep you coming back.