Black Wednesday in Chicago: Out with the Old, In with the New

Yesterday I was tip-toeing along a three-foot-wide, ice-covered trail that clings to the south wall of the Grand Canyon—that’s right: It’s Thanksgiving, Southwestern-style, for The Chaser—about to inform The Creative Director that my terror barrier had been breached. To take my mind off the slip-sliding nature of that short-lived adventure (my Enough’s Enough barometer peaked when a pack of mules stalled in front of us on the trail; their refusal to budge seemed like a good time to cut our losses), I reflected on that nightlife invention and blatant marketing scheme known as Black Wednesday…


Three Aces sign


Yesterday I was tip-toeing along a three-foot-wide, ice-covered trail that clings to the south wall of the Grand Canyon—that’s right: It’s Thanksgiving, Southwestern-style, for The Chaser—about to inform The Creative Director that my terror barrier had been breached. To take my mind off the slip-sliding nature of that short-lived adventure (my Enough’s Enough barometer peaked when a pack of mules stalled in front of us on the trail; their refusal to budge seemed like a good time to cut our losses), I reflected on that nightlife invention and blatant marketing scheme known as Black Wednesday. If I’d rolled my eyes hard enough, I would have plunged hundreds of feet to my demise.

As I explained last year, my mother does not approve of Black Wednesday because, if she’s going to spend Thanksgiving morning manhandling a raw bird, then we darn well better not be too hung over to enjoy it. She has a point: Since when does getting hammered have anything to do with putting in quality family time or celebrating the things you’re most thankful for? Drury siblings, ignore the question.

But, as this magazine’s nightlife reporter, it simply does not do for me to discourage you from enjoying a night out. Therefore, a duo of Black Wednesday options below. The theme? Out with the old, in with the new.

If, like me, you occasionally find yourself tripping down the stairs to the Gold Coast’s Underground Wonder Bar for a late-night live-music fix, take heed: It’s almost time for the 21-year-old institution’s last dance—in its current location, at least. The bar will close on December 5th with plans to reopen in a new Clark Street location once the owners raise adequate funds, although a confusing Facebook invite titled “Last Show at Underground Wonderbar on Walton” led me—half-asleep and compulsively checking my Blackberry after being awakened in the middle of the night by howling coyotes—to believe I was about to miss the big farewell. Not so. It’s simply the last show at the venue for the local rock/roots/blues band Twinray. False alarm! Still, if you’re looking for a Black Wednesday plan and want to hit up the bar before its sure-to-be-packed finale, tonight presents a prime opportunity—especially since you’ll get in free if you mention the passphrase “Wonder lives on!”

This is Chicago, so you know the drill: When one bar closes, another one opens. Your second Black Wednesday option? A “Tryptophan Celebration” at the new Little Italy spot Three Aces, which refuses to self-identify as a bar or a restaurant—or, for that matter, a gastropub—but instead claims to fall into a category of its own, the neighborhood “gastro-punk.” OK, then. Tonight’s bash ostensibly is meant to ward off the drowsy side effects of tomorrow’s turkey consumption. To that end: DJ-spun psychedelic rock and $2 PBR and Old Crow shots that should keep your eyes wide open—before having the completely opposite effect.

To moms everywhere, I apologize.

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