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LGBT nightclubs prepare for weeks-long closings
by Matt Simonette
2020-03-17

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Chicago-area nightclubs and restaurants, along with all food-and-beverage hospitality businesses in Illinois, received the order from state authorities the afternoon of March 15 to cease operations at the close of business the following day.

The mandate came as Gov. JB Pritzker and state authorities work on a response to the coronavirus crisis. Bars and restaurants will remain closed at least through March 30.

Pritzker and other officials expressed dismay that several bars throughout the city and state were busy the weekend of March 13-15, as numerous patrons seemingly ignored warnings to stay away from crowds. Prior to Pritzker's announcement, several Chicago bars posted to social media that they were taking extra steps to ensure a safe experience for patrons. Nevertheless, by the end of the weekend, all were faced with the prospect of at least two weeks without revenue.

Management of Sidetrack Chicago announced March 16, "Sidetrack has always served a community that was forged from the strength of overcoming adversity. Now, more than ever, we remember those who came before us and worked so hard for our benefit. We are confident that this too will make us stronger on the other side. We are now closed through March 30, but we will continue to communicate via our website and social media platforms."

Jackhammer Chicago posted to Facebook March 16: "Jackhammer will be closed after last call tonight and will remain closed until at least March 30, as directed by the state. We cannot wait to see you when we reopen. Thank you for all of your support."

Staff at Jackhammer's neighbor, Touche Chicago, posted, "As you may have heard, Governor JB Pritzker has ordered all bars and restaurants to close Monday, March 16 at the end of the business day until March 30.

So today is Last Call!"

"We look forward to welcoming you back to Roscoe's in the near future," said that bar's owners.

In response to the closing, Hydrate Nightclub Chicago announced a "virtual dance floor" Saturday, March 21, adding, "DJ Joe Gauthreaux spinning live, chatting online, taking requests, and bringing positive energy into our lives. … We invite you to follow in the history of our community coming together in music and supporting those in need."

According to the announcement, proceeds from the online event will go to Hydrate staff. Scarlet owners similarly said that Monster RAVE! Performances would be streamed live on Instagram, and encouraged patrons to tip performers via PayPal and Venmo.

Management at The Call similarly asked the community to remember its staff: "Support local businesses, Venmo your bartenders and entertainers. In these times, neighborhood and community support is greatly appreciated."


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