The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Smart Bar 'Relights The Night'

By Justin Freeman in Arts & Entertainment on Jan 17, 2015 9:00PM

smart-bar-logo.jpg Smart Bar has always been one of my favorite places around town. With its welcoming sense of acceptance and excellent collective of forward thinking DJs, Smart Bar has always been an oasis in the midst of generic bottle service clubs. They’ve been closed for a good chunk of the year so far. They were closed Jan. 7-14 to install some upgrades throughout the place. I was excited when I heard about this, so I went to check out the new things when they reopened Thursday night.

When I arrived a little after 1 a.m. Derrick Carter was behind the turntables playing a bunch of deep disco singles intermixed with cuts of classic house. I found myself in the back of the club, in a circle watching as people took turns dancing. As Carter spun on the ones and twos, I watched a fierce, lanky, bald man vogue with impeccable skill. A woman took center circle next as she pop and locked to the rhythm of 808 drum patterns.

It was then when I noticed the sound. It had slightly more clarity to it than before. During the renovations, Smart Bar installed a system of Funktion-One monitors. The DJ booth was remodeled to better fit these speakers and several of them were placed in the rear of the club. The sound seemed slightly more crisp, the bass a bit more full.

Back in the circle, a dude wearing a black T-shirt depicting a periodic table of Detroit Techno was getting down as Carter continued to play various deep house singles. Suddenly, the man found himself in the literal spotlight as the upgraded lighting system engulfed him in a subtle shade of dark blue while four mirror balls shimmed light on everyone on the dance floor. It was a celebratory moment, giving thanks to house music and the city that calls it home.

I woke up the next day to discover the formation of the Frankie Knuckles Foundation who, according to our friends at the Chicago Reader, mission includes “celebrating Knuckles's contributions to global music, maintaining a civic presence, and continuing the DJ's mission to act as a global ambassador of the music of the city of Chicago.” The foundation make their public debut this Sunday at Smart Bar with a tribute to Frankie Knuckles which they’ve curated.

Smart Bar has several things planned throughout the month of January to showcase the new digs. They’re calling it “Relight the Night.” A full schedule of the events is listed below.

1/17: Hugo Ball with Norm Talley and Hugo Ball residents
1/18: For Frankie with Tony Humphries, Louie Vega, David Morales, Derrick Carter, Michael Serafini, and Garrett David + a special guest to be announced
1/23: Savages with John Roberts, Jeffrey Sfire, Jacob Meehan, and hosts
1/24: Addison Groove, Helix, Chris Widman, and Whoa-B
1/30: Sleaze with Ivan Smagghe and Chrissy
1/31: Orchard Lounge