Chicago Cinema Society’s first party was a celebration of weirdness and Spanish cinema, with viewings of Alejandro Jodorowski’s classic mindfuck Santa Sangre, Alex De Iglesia’s new school clown serial killer gorefest The Last Circus, and Robert Morgan’s pretty indescribably grotesque stop-motion short Bobby Yeah, augmented by live flamenco instrumentation, and feather-clad ass shaking salsa dancers exploding out into the aisles, titillating and confounding a mix of hooting drunks and awkward cinephiles.
Neo has had Thursdays on lock with their New Wave night for decades, first with (Late Bar owner) Dave Robert’s Planet Earth, Kamar Khan and DJ Qbot’s Atomic, and currently held down by Kamar and a rotating crew of guest DJs. The music spans the decade’s new wave, post punk, pop and industrial deep cuts and superhits, with a particular bent towards Neo’s darker aesthetic – Yaz, Peter Schiller, Tiffany, Duran Duran, The Cure, XTC, Kajagoogoo, Divine, Ministry, the B-52’s, and Nina Hagen would not be out of place (Jon Bon Jovi…not so much a thing that happens). Their biggest night is the anual New Wave Prom that gets people dressed to the nines in day-glo makeup and spangled tuxes.
The Printers’ Ball has been growing and growing for years, until in 2011, it was a three-floor, interactive art show that makes, to put it in as cheesy terms as possible, independent literature come alive(!) through games, readings, installation art, music, dancing, boozing, performances by garage punks White Mystery, flamenco musician Willie Gomez, and DJ sets by the Chances Dances crew.
Midnight Conspiracy have a habit of starting paries out strong, and then growing them to such epic proportions that they are practically unmanageable, and the final edition (to date, at least) of their version of NYC’s big Girls and Boys party, was a clusterfuck in all the best ways, and the first time we were in a good spot where we could actually take pics and not be in the way of a bathroom line/coat check bottleneck (the BAD kind of clusterfuck). Chromeo closed out a show that opened with DJs playing behind a curtain as crews cleared one light show and made way for another.
For local triple-X starlet Phoenix Askani’s birthday, she took over weekly heavy metal party Unholy Empire and it’s home at Cobra Lounge, setting up a jello wrestling arena where Burning Angels and Suicide Girls got sloppy and violent under the goading tutelage of referee Joanna Angel.
The Drag Edition of the annual Black and Brown Punk Show was one of those events where everything and the kitchen sink was thrown in. Using “punk” as an aesthetic that allowed for punk, hardcore, folk, cumbia, and electronic music, half a dozen bands with primarily Black and Latino membership took over a former South Side church called The Orphanage, most of them in crossgender drag.
The Lolita Goth Tea Party was a intimate event that brought together Lolita Goths from all over the midwest for a fancy tea party that, due to an insane torrential downpour, took place in an empty wing of the Chicago Cultural Center.
Kids These Days is a young, local, live band hip-hop outfit with incredible chops that packed the Metro for their record release party that brought together some of new-and-old-school Chicago hip-hop elite. Imagine 1000 kids singing along to Lil John’s “Get Low” and Crucial Conflict’s “Hay”, pumped up by emcee Hollywood Holt, who led the crowd in the first and only stagediving contest I’ve ever seen.
Chicago loves the shit out of zombies. And dancing. And fake proms. This was all of those things, and motherfuckers went all out.
The World Naked Bike Ride was, is, and with any luck always will be my favorite event of the year. Naked people, on bikes, exuberantly happy. There is literally nothing better in the world.
obviously I could have just called this the “Top 15 Weirdest Parties of 2011” but I’m a list-making nerd and I like pointing out exceptions in the arbitrary criteria I’ve made up myself…so there!
I felt like it would be callous to call this one of the top events of the year since I put it together myself, but because of that fact, it was everything I personally wanted out of an event. There were hilarious dramatic readings of R. Kelly songs, naked people, dirty r’n’b making people bump, grind and juke on the dancefloor, and a performance by The Embraceables, whose pop takes on R. Kelly’s “Ignition” and Ginuwine’s “Pony” were just absolutely tits.
The Chicago Steampunk scene is creating something from nothing, a scene from an aesthetic and I love working their events, which feature tophats, victrolas, freak shows, circus acts, burlesque and all sorts of vaudevillian nonsense.
Nocturna is a Chicago stalwart, a decades-long 18+ goth dance party that brings out Chicago’s darkwave kids in droves, in their best. The pictures are always great and the vibe is always warm and exuberant. We’re lucky enough to have Nocturna bringing us out to some of their bigger events (Halloween, Valentine’s Day, et cetera) and it’s impossible to choose what their best party was.
It’s a shame to say that this is the only party that’s ever gotten TOO BIG for us to shoot. There’s just no physical room for us to set up amongst the hundreds of people that show up to Evil Olive every Monday for a night of dubstep, sleaze, and fried chicken, but for the first half of 2011, we were there every other week capturing the madness.
Front 312 is a crapshoot. Perhaps because the Front 312 crew are all extreme godless heathens, the weather gods tend to throw the violentest storms at this party, but when it goes off, it goes off hard. Bondage, costumes, and a mix of two staples of the Chicago music scene: house and industrial, plus acts that give a nod from the elaborate, costumed days of Chicago’s club scene, with guests like JoJo Baby, Happy the Human Pincushion, and Maya Sinstress, sometimes performing with bondage and circus acts, and sometimes just being fabulous.
Last March, Team GlitterGuts took a roadtrip that ended in Austin for SXSW. I figured these parties didn’t belong in the top 10 because they weren’t in Chicago, but Chocolate Sundays was incredible. It’s actually a night that bounces around different Beauty Bars (including our own) with rapper Hollywood Holt hosting a drunken spelling bee and a skateboard ollie contest. Team GlitterGuts won first and second place in the spelling bee (because we’re incredible nerds) and had to paper-scissor-rock over who would end the night blacked out. These don’t happen with any regular frequency, but I highly recommend you coming out when you have a chance.
Our friend Rusty Lazer has one foot in the weirdo art scene and one foot in the NOLA bounce scene and his parties are fucking nuts. The last time we were in NOLA, we got to participate in St. Roch Saturdays, which was a mix of classic hip hop, bounce, and stoner metal that had tatted up crusties putting their asses in the air, and the afterparty for the Krewe Du Poux, a Lundi Gras art parade that featured giant puppets, shopping cart jousts, and a sweaty performance by bounce superstar Big Freedia.