Our 8 Favorite LGBTQ Social Events In Chicago
By Tony Peregrin in Arts & Entertainment on Aug 8, 2016 6:54PM
The best LGBTQ events offer Chicagoans a safe space to open their hearts, let their hair down, and get a little crazy with like-minded people. These happenings show up at established bars and clubs, yes, but they also include evenings of storytelling, a queer-spin on Contra dancing, and a dance party that celebrates bodies of all types with deep house and pizza. Grindr and Tinder help connect the community digitally, but in Chicago, people are stepping out from behind the blue glow of their phones to engage with each other the old fashioned way.
The following list of Best LGBTQ Social Events is by no means comprehensive, but it does highlight the diverse ways Chicago LGBTQs and their allies like to turn it out. Did we miss one of your favorite events? Please comment to let us know, and check out our 2015 list of best LGBTQ nightlife!
About 150 storytellers have taken the stage at Sidetrack for the monthly OUTSpoken! event since it launched two year ago, with each participant revealing personal stories marked by pain and perseverance. "They have shared with us not only their personal stories, but we have also heard LGBTQ history that you will not find in any history book anywhere in the United States," co-emcee Kim Hunt said in a recent interview with the Windy City Times. Curated by Hunt; David Fink, co-founder of Three Oaks, Michigan's Acorn Theater; and Equality Illinois co-founder Art Johnston, OUTspoken! presents stories told from the perspective of LGBTQ people, but they don't all focus on sexuality or gender identity.
OUTSpoken! features six storytellers the first Tuesday of every month. For more information. go to Sidetrack's website.
Neverland, photo of Rafael Veloso by Befockus.
Produced by a team of artists with a keen eye for detail, Neverland events feature theme-driven, high-concept visuals and entertainment that aim to redefine the LGBTQ dance party. For Pride 2016, Neverland hosted a three-day, three-party spectacle topped off by an event at Metro featuring Peter Pan, Hook, Wendy and the alligator. "The Lost Boys" party went beyond the typical go-go boys in neon jockstraps and featured full-on performance art and pageantry. Launched in July 2012 by Anthony DiFiore, Neverland boasts famous RuPaul’s Drag Race alumni such as Kim Chi, Pearl and Trixie Mattel, as well as Alexander Knox (Project Runway).
Neverland returns for Market Days, Friday, Aug. 12, with The Imperial Harem, hosted by Imp Queen, Nico and Sara Andrews. For ticket information visit Neverland's Facebook page.
Photo via Queer Contra
Queer Contra Dance
A centuries-old folk dance tradition, Contra dance features live traditional fiddle music from lilting Celtic-inspired tunes to rollicking bluegrass, led by a caller who offers instructions throughout the dance. It's been described by organizers as the kind of music you’d hear in Jane Austen movies. Queer Contra Dance does away with traditional gender roles in dance and gives them an LGBTQ twist by giving dancers the opportunity to choose an armband to determine their dance role. Admission is on a sliding scale of 0 to $10—no one is turned away for lack of funds—and no previous experience is required.
Queer Contra Chicago monthly dances are typically held the last Saturday of the month at the Second Unitarian Church of Chicago in Lakeview.
Tea in A’Ville
Inspired by classic gay tea dances—Sunday afternoon dance parties especially popular at gay resorts like P-Town—Tea in A’Ville cranks up euphoric disco/house music/'90s/'00s floor-filler jams (courtesy of DJ Moose), shirtless men, and a theme, like "Summer of Love" or the "Winter White T-Party." Gay men in their late 30s and 40s, and those who love them, sail right into this party, typically held the first Sunday of every month. Let the joy rise!
Tea in A’Ville Market Days (a traveling version of the Andersonville party) will feature DJ Moose and flag dances Jen and Vern at the Roscoe/Nissan Stage 3 to 6 p.m., Market Days Sunday.
A queer dance party featuring South Asian music and performances, Jai Ho (Hindu for victory is ours) allows attendees to select a name and pronoun via nametags provided at the door. Billed as Chicago's premier queer Bollywood dance party, the event is organized by Trikone Chicago, a not-for-profit organization for South Asians (individuals who trace their ethnic and cultural heritage to Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal, and the Maldives) who identify as “lesbian, gay, bisexual, asexual, transgender, queer, hijra, kothi, meti, MSM, WSW, and questioning.” Once named the Best Sporadic Queer Dance Party by the Chicago Reader, Jai Ho events, which always feature gender-neutral bathrooms, take place monthly at Big Chicks.
Trikone Chicago Presents Jai Ho: Summer Sutra takes place Friday, Aug. 19 from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.
The gAy List Bus
The very definition of a party on wheels, Dougie Collins’ The gAy List Bus (formerly Vengabus Chicago) shuttles gaggles of gays to and from destinations like Six Flags, Saugatuck and Ravinia on a 55-passenger motorcoach complete with restroom, sound system, and coolers packed with ice for your favorite BYOB libations. Collins, who manages a local bus tour company, hatched the idea for an LGTBQ party bus in September 2009 after driving friends to LaCage, a popular gay nightclub in Milwaukee. The most recent gAy List Bus adventure, "Jump On The Dolly Trolley: Dolly Parton Bus to Ravinia," was a sold-out affair complete with hunky boys, Backwoods Barbies, and plenty of booze.
Check out The gAy List Bus Facebook page for information on upcoming events.
DILF and Otter at SoFo Tap
SoFo Tap, the cozy neighborhood watering hole south of Foster, is home to two of the hottest monthly parties in Andersonville: DILF and Otter. DILF makes room for daddy by celebrating men over 35 and their admirers the first Saturday of every month, typically built around a theme or guest host. The August event, "DILF: The Bald and the Butch," honored the allure and virility of chrome domes. The vibe at DILF is fun, but not silly; masculine, but not in an exaggerated, Tom of Finland kind of way. Otter, organized by the men who launched DILF at the SoFo Tap, takes place on the third Saturday of every month, and is billed as a night for those seeking sleeker, slimmer bear types. Both DILF and Otter welcome fuzzy boys of all ages, especially guys looking for a respite from the shaved, smooth-bodied lads of Boystown.
Go to SoFo Tap’s event page for more information on DILF and Otter events.
Deep Dish at Berlin
Deep Dish—the body-positive, biweekly Monday night party at Berlin— is a combination of bartenders “Dad” (Jason Berlin) and “Mom’s” (Lucy Stoole) favorite things in the world: Hot pizza, house music, and butts. Featuring beats by DJ Ldy Prblms (Tyler Jane), go-go dancers of all shapes, sizes and genders, and free pizza at 12:30am (while supplies last), Deep Dish is a cut above other Monday night events for celebrating the body beautiful in all its shapely forms.
The next Deep Dish is Aug. 15. For more information visit Berlin's website.