North Side leather bar TouchÃ© marks its 40th anniversary in November, and is kicking off the month with a five-day long celebration starting Nov. 1.
"It was 40 years to the day that [owner Chuck Rodocker] welcomed everybody to the bar," said the bar's longtime manager, David Boyer. "We'll have food of course, but the big thing is, we'll be rolling some of our drink prices back to the 1977 levels. "Back then we sold cans of Miller Lite for 75 cents. Smirnov vodka was a dollar, and Jack Daniels was only a buck-and-a-half. We can't [lower prices] on everything, but we are going to do it on those three items, to remind everybody of the day."
Singer Sharon McNight will also perform a special set on Wed., Nov. 1, Boyer added.
Thursday, Nov. 2, will feature what Boyer called a "salute to our 'rubbery side.'"
"We've sponsored the Mr. Midwest Rubber contest for many years now," he said. "We're welcoming the guys coming in for Mr. International Rubber 21. It'll be hosted by the current Mr. Midwest Rubber, and there'll be some more giveaways and drink specials that night."
Friday, Nov. 3, will feature a tribute to Chicago's leather clubs, Boyer noted. "We've been home at the bar for many of the clubs over the year. Traditionally on Friday nights one of the clubs would host a party, or do something crazy, so this night we're saluting all the clubs to come in and have some fun. They might want to display some of their history and other stuff that shows off what has gone on at TouchÃ©.
He added that on Saturday, Nov. 4, "We're all about the bears, because Saturday is Bear Night. But it's a two-for-one party nightthere's a full moon and TouchÃ© is known for our full moon contest. … We were the first ones to establish it; we were Chicago's original bear night. Our Mr. Chicago Bear and Mr. Chicago Cub will be there. We're going to give a weekend pass for North American Bear Weekend, and then later on, we're going to have a full moon contest with a hundred-dollar cash prizecrazy stuff like that."
The initial festivities wrap up Sunday, Nov. 5, with the Sunday Beer Bust, featuring dollar beers and two-dollar lager shots.
"That day we'll salute our staff alumniall the guys that have, over the years, poured a drink and took care of people while they've been customers at the bar," Boyer said.
The bar will also have a drawing that afternoon for a trip to New Orleans.
Boyer was a customer at TouchÃ© when Rodocker first opened it, he recalled.
"Within that first year, I started working for him there," he recalled. "Never did I have a thought that we were going to be doing this 40 years later. It's been an amazing journey, with highs and lowswhen everybody was wild and crazy in the '70s. Then when AIDS struck in the '80s, that hit squarely at TouchÃ©. Some of the people that passed away were customers and employees."
Boyer further noted that TouchÃ© staff and patrons, "from the get-go, supported places like Chicago House and anything that we could. That's one of the main things to say about us: For 40 years, I can't think of all the thousands of dollars that have been raised at fundraisers and auctions that have gone on at the bar. Usually there's one or two a month."
He emphasized that the point of the anniversary celebration was that "We couldn't have gotten to 40 years without people coming through our doors. That's what we're so grateful for."