Cue the pipe organ: The Shady Lady (712 N. Clark St.; 312-624-9008), a new circus-meets-burlesque lounge in River North, opened to the public last Friday, and our photographer was onsite to catch early adopters mugging for the camera. The bar marks the return of the once and future nightlife entrepreneur Dion Antic to Chicago’s bar scene. Antic is serving in a consulting capacity here, helping shape the bordello vibe and programming the lounge’s nightly happenings—brief spectacles that take place on a tiny vignette stage and range from a sword swallower to a beat-boxing harmonica player. “It’s a ‘Did I just see that?’ sort of thing,” co-owner Craig Hiljus says of the top-secret-until-they-take-place mini performances. “People stand around with their mouths open.” In addition to the sideshow, the bar offers a wide range of whiskeys and microbrews, and, downstairs, 13 artisanal cocktails crafted especially for the 40ish-seat VIP room, Private.


Photography by Megan Dodge