Given the social set I usually write about, this may surprise some readers, but I’ve been hobnobbing with politicians my entire life. My dad was a state representative for 14 years (he’s now a circuit court judge), and his work took me to places like the governor’s mansion in Springfield, where we attended Passover Seders in the 1980s hosted by Governor Thompson. One year I even found the afikomen and was awarded 18 silver dollars! My brother found it the prior year and received a $10 bill signed by the governor himself. I spent most of my preteen years stuffing envelopes, knocking on doors, and wearing T-shirts and toting signs emblazoned with “People for Preston.” I sort of miss the fundraisers and block parties-the chance to rub elbows with those who really make our city tick.So, in an effort to get back to my roots, last Thursday I attended a fundraiser for Mayor Daley at Rockit Bar and Grill. Rockit might seem like an odd campaign stop for Daley, but the spot’s new publicist, Maura Daley, is Bill Daley’s daughter-and Da Mayor’s niece. I’ve never seen so many good-looking suits packed into the upstairs bar, clamoring for the Chicago-style hot dogs and Polish sausages distributed from a Vienna Beef cart parked in the corner (nice touch!). The best part: It only cost $25 to get in, a far cry from some big-ticket political affairs. Rockit owner Billy Dec says he kept the cover affordable in order to attract a younger-than-average crowd: “Young adults need to know who is contributing to the great city that they live in and begin to get their feet wet understanding how they make a difference.”
When the mayor strolled in around 6:40 p.m. with his wife, Maggie, and Alderman Burton F. Natarus of the 42nd Ward in tow, I was the first person to snag them.
“How do you think the smoking ban will affect local businesses?” I asked Daley, while some of those suits at the bar puffed away on their cigarettes.
“We’re working with local businesses; we’re talking about separate rooms,” he said. “We’re gonna work it out.”
Before long, Dec took the stage to introduce the mayor to the 400 or so attendees. “We definitely have one of the greatest mayors in the world,” Dec said, then went on to explain that, when people ask him why he doesn’t own clubs in other cities, he responds that it’s because he’s so proud to be a lifelong Chicagoan (from Lincoln Park), living in the best city in the world.
Daley had these words for the hip and youthful: “We live in one of the youngest cities in the country; we have better jobs and opportunities. The city is alive and well 24 hours a day. It’s because of people like you, your generation.” When the pep rally was over, the mayor stuck around for a few photos before exiting around 7:10 p.m.
Daley’s right about the 24-hours-a-day thing; I took advantage of Chicago’s active nightlife by heading to The Underground for a fashion show from the Wicker Park boutique TK Men. Stevie Wonder’s Superstition blared from the DJ booth; female models strutted down the makeshift catwalk in men’s clothing; later, Vince Vaughn, looking scruffy and tired, slouched in a corner. Even after the city’s politicians call it a night, the younger generation continues to party.