After an almost three-year hiatus, Clandestina Chicago ( Clandestina ) co-promoters City Winery Chicago Riverwalk Manager Brooke Webster and Chicago PD Makeup Department Head Alma Izquierdo have announced a re-launch event Saturday, Aug. 24, 8 p.m.-12 a.m., at SX Sky Bar, 808 S. Michigan Ave.
A second event will take place Sunday, Sept. 22, 3-8 p.m., at City Winery, 1200 W. Randolph St.
Clandestina started in early 2015, when Webster and then Chicago Fire star Monica Raymund joined forces to create a new space for queer women and their allies in Chicago. Shortly after their first meeting, Webster and Raymund brought Izquierdo onboard as a co-promoter.
"Brooke and Monica had a conversation about the queer women's scene here in Chicago," said Izquierdo. "Having both lived in New York City, they were surprised that Chicago, despite being such a great cosmopolitan city with a large queer community, did not have more options than it did at the time."
"I had moved back to my hometown of Chicago after a successful career on the East Coast that included ownership of Meow Mix Bar in Manhattan and Cattyshack in Brooklyn," said Webster. "Monica and I knew each other from New York City and decided we needed fun, diverse, experiential events for our community. She met Alma on the set of the Chicago shows and Clandestina was born."
Raymund has since moved away from Chicago after departing from her role on Chicago Fire, so Webster and Izquierdo decided to team with Legacy Project and Coalition for the Homeless board member and revenue auditor Renauda Riddle to resume these events. ( In addition to their day jobs, Webster has raised funds for a variety of non-profits, while Izquierdo is a Center on Halsted Women's Action Council member. )
Riddle told Windy City Times that she came onboard because she has wanted to curate events with Webster and Izquierdo for quite some time. She said this opportunity came at the right moment for her since she is in the process of restructuring her event company.
"Our mission has always been to create a safe space, cultural creativity, networking and new experiences for our community while raising money for the projects that really need grassroots funding," said Webster.
Izquierdo said Clandestina's goal is "to provide unique and creative experiences in a safe and supportive environment."
Izquierdo cited the event's hiatus at the end of 2016 on increasing work commitments; also, with Raymund leaving Chicago to pursue other film/TV opportunities, they did not have time to plan new events. Politics also became a factor.
"The November 2016 election results sent us all reeling," said Izquierdo. "I think at the time we were all stunned and worried about the future of the country and the LGBTQ+ community. We were focused on efforts to support our community and all the non-profit organizations that were being threatened by the new administration."
"Monica suggested we bring Clandestina to L.A., but Alma and I are committed to Chicago," said Webster. "Both of us also have extremely busy full-time jobs so we need to be a trio for this to work."
Bringing back these parties was serendipitous, according to Izquierdo.
"Brooke and I had been talking for a few months about all the ideas we had been coming up with since our last event," said Izquierdo. "We knew it was going to take a little more effort with just the two of us but we were really psyched. We missed doing what we love; organizing events that brought our community and friends together for a phenomenal time.
"Then I found out Renauda was not going to continue with the Brunch Remix events. She is an remarkably talented organizer. We have worked together for years on the Women's Action Council and I knew she would be the perfect fit as a co-promoter. When I asked Brooke, she was all for it."
"We wanted to resume because we had many requests from members of the community to bring it back; and the fact that we had a chance to have a great partner come onboard like Renauda was icing on the cake," said Webster. "We are blessed that this is a trio mightier than Charlie's Angels and fiercer than 007 with the class of Michelle Obama to bring fun important events for LGBTQ community in these dark times in our nation's history."
During Clandestina's first year of operation, organizers raised money for Project Fierce and Project Vote and will continue to donate a part of the proceeds from each event to Chicagoland LGBTQ organizations.
Events will take place in both Chicago and the neighboring suburbs and will range from "free" location takeovers to higher priced sit down meals with most events ranging from $10 to $25 that will include a beverage or food item.
"We are putting our efforts into offering as many unique experiences to appeal to people across the spectrum," said Izquierdo. "We know you cannot please everyone. However, we want to be intentional in keeping everyone in mind when we design each event."
Izquierdo, Riddle and Webster's goals for these events include adding to the vibrancy of the LGBTQ social scene and that guests make friends, network, discover volunteer opportunities, create amazing memories and find new love connections.
To RSVP for the Aug. 24 event, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/clandestina-tickets-65946125637.
See www.facebook.com/clandestinachi/ .