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Chicago's Douche Vortex Map

By Melissa McEwen in News on May 1, 2014 8:45PM

Major Douche Vortices: Based on City of Chicago heatmap of crimes located in bars or taverns in the past year.

It happens at night, particularly on weekends. Hordes of them descend upon a place, chugging vodka and beer, hunting for mating opportunities, and getting into brawls over sports or potential hook-ups. They are the douchebags. And the places they converge are the douche vortices.

Chicago has several major douche vortexes. It’s important to map them out because many innocent people stumble onto them by accident. Recent Chicago transplants and tourists are the most common victims. They’re drawn in by some of the traps in the vortices, which range from hip bars to music venues, and then they find themselves stuck in a zombie-like horde of belligerent drunks.

The douches are many. And they are easy enough to stereotype - they tend to be veterans of the Greek systems in Big Ten schools, and they like to wear popped polo shirts and Cubs hats. But really anyone can be a douche. It just takes this simple formula:

Money + Large Amounts of Alcohol + Total Disrespect For Other People’s Boundaries = Douche Vortex

The money is important because douche vortexes appear primarily in higher income parts of the city. Bar and tavern owners wouldn’t endure their bad behavior if they didn’t make piles of cash off them.

Which brings me to the other important part of the equation - large amounts of alcohol. Some of these douches might be perfectly nice people during the day or when first arriving at the bar, but alcohol unleashes their worst qualities, and the douche vortices provide plenty of it.

And the hallmark of this behavior is an arrogant disrespect for other people’s boundaries. Douches never learned to use their inside voices and don’t mind everyone in the entire restaurant or bar hearing every single unpleasant detail of their sex lives, or which sports team they hope wins. You may even witness parts of their sex lives as they grind madly on each other to the beats of mediocre music, occasionally shoving you in the process. Every woman is fair game for pick-up lines, even those who have made it clear they are not interested. At their apex of douchiness, they are loud, boorish and predatory.

And this is just the “minor” behavior, which usually goes unrecorded. These maps are records of the behavior that was so bad, it got the police involved: bar brawls, sexual assaults and disorderly conduct. We used these cases, typically caused by alcohol mixed with total disrespect for other people’s boundaries, to illustrate the boundaries of these vortices. We dialed down the data to specific crimes such as battery and sexual assault to illustrate what make some vortices distinct.

The major vortices identified are:

"Let's annoy some cocktail nerds trying to enjoy their drinks at Three Dots And A Dash, and then head to Underground."- some River North Douchebags (Poznyakov/ Shutterstock)

Crimes in bars since 2012 in River North
River North

The current douche capital of Chicago. This is where the young rich douches hang out. Here, bottle service is king and champagne and vodka are the drinks of choice. Unfortunately for non-douches, there are more than a few food and drink attractions in the area, which require anti-douche strategizing to enjoy since many douches have developed rarified taste in food and cocktails. And this means getting sloppily sloshed on craft cocktails. It’s an expensive way to get wasted, but they have the dough to do it.

"Bro, I wish St. Patricks Day were every day!"- Wrigleyville Douches (marionbirdy/Shutterstock)

Crimes in bars in Wrigleyville since 2012


Low-key, old-fashioned and much less stylish douche center. Wrigleyville is their ideal habitat: full of Irish pubs and sports bars where they can watch the Cubs and drown their related sorrows in Jaegerbombs while listening to Dave Matthews Band. There is very little reason to come here unless you are a fan of the Cubs or willing to endure douchedom to see a band at Metro. Their official holiday is St. Patrick's Day and it's very important to avoid this area of the city during that day as it very strongly resembles a zombie apocalypse.

"I have all the worst qualities of a hipster and a frat dudebro" - Wicker Park Douche (Jess Wealleans/Shutterstock)

Crimes in bars in Wicker Park since 2012

Wicker Park (A.K.A. Wrigleyville II)

Once hipster territory, douches moved here because they thought it was cool, or maybe because douche territory in Wrigleyville was constrained by Boystown in the north and expanding Lakeview stroller-pusher encroachment. It’s also home to clashes between yuppies, hipsters and douches, who jockey for tables at Big Star and attempt to avoid each other at Violet Hour, where a list of rules at least attempts to keep the most obvious specimens out.

The Viagra Triangle proves you're never too old to be a douche. ( PathDoc/Shutterstock)

Sex-related bar crimes (sexual assault and other sexual offenses) in The Viagra Triangle environment, past five years.

Viagra Triangle Area
It’s unwise to come here on weekends unless you want to hang out with the older, richer douches who have made this their haven for getting totally wasted—but perplexingly, that seems to actually be a draw for some people. Defined by clustering of bar crime that’s sexual in nature.

Battery in bars, past five years. Boundaries of minor douche territories.

There are also more minor douche territories that are worth knowing:

Old Town
More responsible and older than their River North counterparts, but they still seem to like bar brawls, though they are mostly just annoying.

Clybourn Drunken Pothole of Doom
Apparently Whole Foods attracts a rowdy crowd here. Just kidding - it seems a cluster of warehouse clubs is responsible for this mess.

Lincoln Party
Luckily this area is pretty dispersed. Avoid the vomit-encrusted hotspots frequented by DePaul students and head to the mostly non-douche territory of Local Option, Delilahs and Barrelhouse Flat.

If you must visit the vortices, here are a few survival tips.

  • Go on a weeknight when the douches are less likely to mob.

  • Go early in the evening when the douches are less likely to be extremely intoxicated.

  • If you can’t avoid the douche vortex on a weekend evening, try to get more isolated seating, such as a private booth.

  • Carefully choose a bar for sports watching. You want to enjoy the game, not get vomited on. Find a bar outside a vortex.

  • Know havens within the vortex that are relatively douche-free such as The Trencherman in Wicker Park and Charcoal Bar in River North.

  • If your friends who are visiting from out of town suggest going out in the douche vortices, show them our heatmap and interactive map… and suggest exploring other parts of the city.

Obviously these do not apply if you are a douche. In that case, it might be wise to consider limiting your alcohol consumption and learning how not to bother other people.

Update: If you are interested in whether it's a bar problem or a douche problem, please see our new companion post.