And the role of the doorman will be played by...
With a 1,000-light marquee, Cabaret has announced its presence in Chicago’s River North neighborhood. And after all the pre-opening publicity this winter we wanted to find out what all the hubbulb was about.
The 5,000-square-foot club/lounge is the brainchild of veteran nightlife trio Todd Rubin, Phil Lotsoff and Marc Bortz (Circus, Hogs & Honeys, Awesome ’80s Prom). Three environments in the open space reflect a cabaret theme with chandeliers, Louis XVI furnishings, red wash lights and Brazilian Cherry wood floors. Three bars are kept busy by crew of attractive waitresses in racy flapper attire. Of course there’s also a separate, private VIP room that’s even more plush with red walls and candelabras. Burlesque shows are contained to Friday nights, and DJs spin hip-hop and rock tracks to fill out the entertainment lineup the rest of the week.
Cabaret aims for a touch of old school Hollywood glamour with a side of new school Vegas glitz, but does it satisfy the appetites of the Midwest’s hippest club crawlers and anxious partiers?
From the outside, with its marquee, Cabaret looked, at first, like we are all going to a movie or Broadway show; the setup of the girl behind the cash register in the box office made us feel more like we were there to see a film than enjoy a party. But when we went through the doors, instead of a theater lobby we were flooded with lounge house beats, soothing red lighting and an upscale crowd with drinks in hand.
The place is not big but there is enough space to enjoy yourself without playing bumper people all night. There were two medium sized bars in the main room and a third bar in the back VIP room. Velvety sofas, which were all reserved for bottle service, lined the club. We attempted to get a table, but table service is for four to six people per bottle, per table, so our 20-plus crew had to hang by the back bar.
If you ask me, there is no point in going to the VIP room, all the action is in the main room, including the dancers on blocks. For such a small place there was an abundance of security; security made up for about 40% of the crowd!
It was steady the entire evening, never dead, never overcrowded. All in all it was a great spot to have a cocktail and mingle with friends. The volume isn’t so loud you can’t hear anyone talking to you, but the music is more mainstream, commercial tracks. The Top 40 stuff going on was a turn off to our crew of house-heads.
I decided it was time to finally see if all the hype about Cabaret had any substance. On line there were bouncers with British and Australian accents, which might have made the people they didn’t let in think they were cunty, but me and my girlfriends had quite a laugh with them before going inside. Normally I’d whine about a $20 cover, but this was a new club. I had already put on heels and my high-maintenance face and there was no going back.
Inside the room was gorgeous. Something about the glass columns, chandeliers and glowing light reminded me of Mansion in Miami – only a whole lot smaller. And with all the tables there weren’t a lot of options for lounging and the floor space got crowded pretty quickly. We made our own space to dance, but the music wasn’t so great anyway. We didn’t spring for a bottle, even though the free deck of cards that comes with it was quite tempting. Instead we had fun watching Chicago’s beautiful people and wannabes sipping $300 champagne.
The waitresses were super hot in fishnets and corsets. They were straight out of Moulin Rouge, or at least the Lady Marmalade video with Christina Augilera and Lil’ Kim. The bathroom attendant was rather fierce too, I think she even mopped right over some chick’s foot.
Cabaret would probably be better for cocktail parties, but to party, to really party, I’d rather be somewhere else. The experience was fun for a bit, but by midnight we were ready to ditch the pretentious posers and head to a spot with some genuine – and proud of it – townie trash. We found a pack of like-minded (or otherwise motivated) guys and headed out for some cheap beer somewhere else, I got too drunk to remember where.