The best bar games require little effort that would actually interfere with the boozing. No wonder bingo has become so popular in recent years. In addition to the long-running Monday night game at the California Clipper (1002 N. California Ave.; 773-384-2547, californiaclipper.com), there’s Honky Tonk Bingo at the Pontiac Café (1531 N. Damen Ave.; 773-252-7767), which combines bingo with country music and faux redneck humor every Sunday night from 7 to 10. Hosts Elston Yates and Durwood Wilkes mix sarcasm, profanity, and dubious Southern accents as they call regional variations such as Texas T (you form the letter T on your card) and Luckenbach L, and the less self-explanatory Oklahoma Sum’bitch (make the shape of the state by filling the center row and lower left quadrant), Guantánamo (fill in the perimeter), and psychic bingo (guess which balls have been chosen without their being announced). With the local band Fulton County Line playing steel guitar-drenched country shuffles in between games, the only thing missing from the hillbilly vibe is moonshine.
You don’t have to book a flight to Rio to relish the exotic sights and sounds of Brazil’s Carnaval. Thursday nights starting at 10, the veteran Brazilian dance music group Chicago Samba fills HotHouse (31 E. Balbo Ave.; 312-362-9707, hothouse.net) with the breezy melodies and slinky rhythms of bossa nova, forró, pagode, and choro while a mostly 20-something crowd fills the dance floor. Between sets, the irrepressible Edilson Lima provides both dance lessons and sage wisdom. “It makes no sense if you have a booty and don’t shake it,” he tells the crowd. Not to worry. When the band breaks into a batucada percussion jam and the Chicago Samba dancers hit the stage in full Carnaval regalia-sequined bikinis, tight white pants, platform-heeled boots, and towering feathered headdresses’ the booties are vibrating like a cocktail shaker.
The Laugh Aquatic
The spit take gets even funnier when it’s genuinely involuntary. That’s the lowbrow genius of “Don’t Spit the Water,” the live game show performed at 10:30 Saturday nights at the Playground Theater (3209 N. Halsted St.; 773-871-3793). Hosted by the put-upon eastern European Sasha (Steve Gadlin) and his mute sidekick, the Noob (Paul Luikart), the show challenges audience members to fill their mouths with water and then not lose it (and the game) while a rotating cast of young comedians get in their puff-cheeked faces. The humor doesn’t come so much from jokes-although the comics mercilessly get laughs from references to sex, bodily functions, and feminine hygiene-as from taking twisted characters to unnerving extremes. BYOB. To reserve tickets call 866-208-6296 or visit dontspitthewater.com.
From the outdoor volleyball court at Augie’s Booze and Schmooze (1721 W. Wrightwood Ave.; 773-296-0018) to the trove of board games at Guthrie’s Tavern (1300 W. Addison St.; 773-477-2900), there’s almost certainly some watering hole in town where you can play your favorite game. A more recent addition to the bar-as-rumpus-room theme is Ping-Pong at the Happy Village Bar (1059 N. Wolcott Ave.; 773-486-1512). The East Village institution put a lone Ping-Pong table in its back banquet room at the end of last summer, and now on some nights the waiting list exceeds 60 players. People who want to raise the level of their game can get tips from two former city champions who hold court Tuesday evenings starting around 10:30 (a jazz band plays until then) and who referee the tournament that takes place on the first Sunday of every month. .
What goes better with drinking than zombie movies? Well, maybe biker movies, women’s prison movies, or kung fu flicks. Saturdays and Sundays at 6, Cult films at Delilah’s (2771 N. Lincoln Ave.; 773-472-2771, delilahschicago.com) turn the bar into Quentin Tarantino’s idea of heaven by showing the sort of B flicks that you could never find at your local Blockbuster. The combination of low-budget movies and the bar’s rock-n-roll atmosphere (Delilah’s also shows concert films and music documentaries Tuesdays at 7) makes it an oasis where you can ramp up for Saturday night, or nurse a hangover and while away a few lazy hours Sunday evening.
Being one of the beautiful people is hard work, what with all the upkeep, and sitting still for all that primping can be downright dull. But now you can mix clubbing and personal maintenance at one of several martinis-and-manicures nights around town. For sheer extravagance, it’s hard to top the Thursday night Beauty Bar at Elm Street Liquors (12 W. Elm St.; 312-337-3200, elmstreetliquors.com), where for $35 you can indulge in Kamehachi sushi and an open bar while getting your nails filed, clipped, polished, and buffed. The combination of pampering and the club’s chill atmosphere make the event a stress reliever for the young women who hang out. Gentlemen, even though the metrosexual trend is over, we recommend paying more attention to your nails
For a different sort of movie night, join the crowd of cineastes for Smut and Eggs between midnight Saturdays and 2:30 Sunday morning at the Twisted Spoke (501 N. Ogden Ave.; 312-666-1500, twistedspoke.com). The biker-themed bar serves breakfast and shows hard-core porn flicks (sound off), with an emphasis on vintage movies from the seventies and eighties, when the pornmakers actually bothered with camera angles and plots. The smut goes hand in riding glove with the raunchy road hog atmosphere, but the effect is actually more comical than sleazy (though it’s a bit of that, too).