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Is This Year’s Hideout Block Party the Last Hurrah?

With all the upheaval in the neighborhood, it’s at least “the end of things as we’ve come to know them,” says co-owner Tim Tuten.

The crowd watches Mavis Staples perform at the 2013 Hideout Block Party.   Photo: Brian Cassella/ Chicago Tribune

Beloved dive bar the Hideout (1354 W. Wabansia Ave.) has been a West Town staple for decades. Tucked away among warehouses and parking lots, including the one where the city keeps and maintains its tow trucks and garbage trucks, the unassuming venue has hosted the likes of Jack White, Jeff Tweedy, and Thurston Moore, in addition to countless community-oriented events. Its annual block party, which takes place this year September 23 and 24 and benefits Foundations of Music, has seen legends like Wilco and Mavis Staples grace its stage.

Now, the city plans to sell its 18-acre lot to a developer and move its operations to Englewood, the future of that swath of industrial land in a desirable location is in flux. One of the bar’s owners, Tim Tuten, discusses the Hideout’s upcoming block party and the bar’s future.

There’s a lot going on in your corner of West Town. Could it be the last block party for the Hideout?

We never know which celebration will be the last. With all the zoning changes, the neighborhood is going to change. In the past, we’ve used the city’s parking lot on various occasions. Who knows what they are going to build there? We’ve had parties every year for 21 years; some years, the party is on the street in front of the bar, other years it’s been on the big parking lot. In 2015, it was down at the Chicago Riverwalk.

We don’t have a set way we celebrate our anniversary, but one thing is certain, the neighborhood is changing, and it’s the end of things as we’ve come to know them. But it’s not the end—we’ll continue into the definitive future.

Will the Hideout be staying put?

My wife Katie, myself, and Jim and Mike Hinchsliff have owned the Hideout for 21 years. We’re the third owners, and we’ve built a really strong community. We never forget that this place comes from humble beginnings: a house that was built by Irish squatters, that was operated by Italian outlaws, that ended up becoming a bar that served steelworkers, high school teachers, and social workers. This house has been in this location since the 1880s. We were here in the 19th century, in the 20th century, and we’re still here in the 21st century. We plan on being at this location another 100 years.

What can people expect from this year’s block party?

On Saturday, September 23, we will celebrate the 60th year of Sputnik, the Russian satellite that went up in 1957. We are also celebrating rock musicians and people born in 1957 like Jon Langford from Skull Orchard and Rick Rizzo from Eleventh Dream Day. On Sunday, September 24, we’ll be celebrating the 20th anniversary of Steve Albini’s studio Electrical Audio. This is the studio where he worked with Nirvana, Foo Fighters, and other major bands. The Second Ward Choir will kick off the block party Saturday and we’ll also have performances from Skull Orchard, Eleventh Dream Day, Antietam, FACS, and more.

There’s a lot of excitement around the Hideout’s annual block party. Why do you think it stands out among other fests?

Our block party celebrates this community of musicians, activists, and people. It’s a big festival on the street, but it’s a party that you feel you are a part of. When you see these rock bands and these performers, you know them. We make sure our stage is not too big. The separation between the performer and the fans is minimal.

We also have a strong sense of community. That’s never going to change regardless of how or where we have the party. The world around us can change, but the things that make this place—the inner sense of community—will always stay strong. You see it at the block party, and if you drop by on any given night, you can see it and feel it.

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