7 Very Different Ways To Celebrate The New Year In Chicago

By Mae Rice in Arts & Entertainment on Dec 16, 2016 8:19PM

If you don't plan in advance, New Year's Eve is just a night of waiting in line in high heels and then searching for a quadruple-priced Uber in the snow, punctuated by a glass of champagne and a balloon. That's why you need to plan in advance. We're here to help: We've rounded up seven very different ways to celebrate the advent of 2017 (even though, let's be honest, it's going to be a terrible year), beside the return of the city's massive downtown party Chi-Town Rising.

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The crowd at a Windy City Soul Club event (photo via Facebook)

Option #1: Celebrate Soulfully

What: Windy City Soul Club at the Logan Square Auditorium
Where: Logan Square Auditorium (2539 N. Kedzie Blvd.)
When: 9 p.m. on Dec. 31
How much: $15-$20

Windy City Soul Club plays monthly soul nights at the Empty Bottle, and they're incredible—lots of dancing with very friendly, non-gropey vibes. See the soul DJs in a venue with fewer severed doll heads on New Year's Eve—the Logan Auditorium, located just above Lula Cafe—and dance the night away to vintage vinyl.

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DJ Rae Chardonnay at a previous Party Noire event (photo by RJ Eldrige / Facebook)

Option #2: Celebrate with a Touch of Cyborg

What: Party Noire Presents: Black Metropolis New Year’s Eve 2016
Where: The Promontory in Hyde Park (5311 S Lake Park Ave.)
When: 8 p.m. on Dec. 31
How much: $75 beforehand / $100 at the door

This party has live music, DJs, and an epic theme: the black metropolis through the ages. Draw outfit inspiration from 1930s Bronzeville, Wondaland's cyborg-ish sensibilities, and the event's custom NYE mood board.

Tickets cover hors d'oeuvres from 9 to 10 p.m. and an open bar from 8 to 10:30 p.m., plus a midnight champagne toast. If you want to go all out, there's also a VIP package called, fittingly, "The Regal."

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Houndmouth (photo via Facebook)

Option #3: Celebrate with a Concert (and Late Night Tamales)

What: Houndmouth at Thalia Hall
Where: Thalia Hall in Pilsen (1807 S Allport St.)
When: 9 p.m. on Dec. 31; doors at 8 p.m.
How much: $39.50-$65

Houndmouth can be mellow (as you see on their hit "Sedona" ), but they also have a rocker streak, so you'll get a little bit of everything at their New Year's Eve show at Thalia Hall. After you ring in the new year at the concert, duck over to Taqueria Los Comales (1544 W. 18th St.) for some late night Mexican food—it's open til 4 a.m.

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Improvised Shakespeare (photo via Facebook)

Option #4: Celebrate with a Belly Laugh

What: Improvised Shakespeare New Year's Eve Spectacular
Where: the Del Close Theater at iO in Goose Island (1501 N. Kingsbury St.)
When: 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. on Dec. 31, for 90 minutes
How much: $16

The Improvised Shakespeare troupe at iO is always hilarious and jaw-droppingly fluent in Shakespearean English (not to be at all confused with normal English). On New Year's Eve, watch them put together a bard-worthy classic on the fly, and ring in the New Year with a free champagne toast. The show will also include unspecified yet intriguing games and prizes.

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The one and only Big Freedia (photo courtesy of Nicole Ballin)

Option #5: Celebrate with the One and Only Big Freedia

What: Big Freedia at Chop Shop
Where: the 1st Ward event space at Chop Shop in Wicker Park
When: 10 p.m. on Dec. 31; doors at 9 p.m.
How much: $40-$175

This was a big year for Big Freedia—she collaborated with none other than Beyonce—and now, the Louisiana bounce artist will play a Chicago NYE show at Chop Shop. It promises to be a raucous good time with plenty of rump-shaking—her shows involve so much rump shaking that one of her one Mississippi shows was cancelled due to concerns over "gyrating."

Don't be like Mississippi concert bookers. Embrace fun. To gear up for the show, read our interview with Big Freedia from earlier this year, right after the release of Beyonce's "Formation" (in which she was featured).

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"Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind" turns 25 years old this year. Photo Credit: Melody Kramer

Option #6: Celebrate on (Twist) New Year's Day!

What: Time Is Of The Essence: A Neo-Futurist Retrospective
Where: the Neo-Futurarium in Uptown (5153 N Ashland)
When: 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. on Jan. 1
How much: $25 for one show, $40 for both

The creator of the Neo-Futurists' iconic show, Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind, recently pulled the theater's rights to perform the show to the dismay of many. The team is making the best of a bad situation, though: On New Year's Day, 60 Neo-Futurist alums will take the stage for a show they've termed a TMLMTBGB "retrospective" and "a final encore performance." The show has really been around forever—since 1988, to be exact. Go see a Chicago institution one last time before it goes.

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Two Trenchermen burgers (photo via Facebook)

Option #7: Celebrate with a Delicious Last Supper

What: Trenchermen's (sob) final service
Where: Trenchermen in Wicker Park (2039 W North Ave)
When: dinnertime on Dec. 31
How much: depends what you order, but Trenchermen gets three dollar-signs on Yelp

Trenchermen's final service is New Year's Eve. This is tragic, since they had the best Bloody Mary in Chicago, phenomenal burgers, and a surprising number of mossy, rainforest-y terrariums. However, it's also an opportunity to have one last meal there, and see 2016 out with a very limited edition meal.

We've reached out to Trenchermen to see if they have specials planned for NYE, and we'll update this post if we hear back. For now, peruse the dinner menu here. We recommend everything... yes, even the bread and butter.