With Chicago's Gay and Lesbian Pride Parade just around the corner (Sunday, June 28 at noon - and don't forget Pride Fest on Friday and Saturday), it's time to start planning the after-party. These local bars, clubs and parking lots (yes, parking lots) have already handled the details, now all you have to do is show up.
Beat the heat at Sidetrack
Established in 1982 with no signs and beer cases as seating, this Boystown bar doubled in size within two years; today it's one of the largest gay pubs in the city. The spacious, steel-clad interior boasts several sectioned-off areas including a swank outdoor patio and a rooftop deck. And while it's bound to be packed on parade day, it's still one of the few bars where your chances of carrying on a conversation are likely. That might have a little something to do with Sidetrack's lack of a dance floor, though the stageless interior has never stopped the club's slick crowd from busting a move. You can even beat the parade heat by watching the festivities from Sidetrack's air-conditioned interior (open at 11 a.m.) while slurping down one of its popular fruit-fueled, liquor-infused slushees.
Disco all day at Crew & Wild Pug
Located in Uptown next to the historic Green Mill, this gay sports bar is just far enough from the parade route to keep things (somewhat) calm. And because nobody wants to miss out on the festivities, Crew will wait to open its doors until after the parade at 3 p.m. To celebrate, the pub will be decked out in a disco theme, complete with dancing at the adjacent Wild Pug bar. But before you hit the dance floor, we suggest fueling up with a little something from Crew's menu, like pulled-pork sandwiches, mini corn dogs or beer-battered chicken strips. Those looking to stay fit for summer can opt for one of Crew's freshly made salads or wraps; we recommend the fire-grilled cobb salad with spicy-marinated chicken or the vegetarian's revenge wrap with grilled black bean patty, veggies and jack cheese on a whole wheat tortilla. But hey, no one's gonna blame you if you head straight for the booze, especially when Crew boasts more than 60 domestic and imported brews like Bell's Oberon, Blue Moon, Delirium and Red Stripe.
Fill your face at Big Chicks
Venture a few blocks north (and a little to the east) of Crew and you'll find Big Chicks, where plenty of men and women come to kick it on Sundays for the pub's infamous free buffet. This Uptown favorite is a bit removed from the parade route, making it the ideal getaway for those looking to escape the madness. But that doesn't mean you're in store for peace and quiet, as Big Chicks is almost always packed with loyal locals.
Bust a move at Berlin
We can't think of a popular gay bar where you won't find at least some trace of dancing, but this is the place to go if you're itchin' to show off some salacious movesóbecause at Berlin, anything goes. The club is known for bringing in some of the hottest names in DJing and its post-Pride party is no exception. Expect plenty of crazy lights and old school favorites, as the '90s dance show kicks off with a lineup of DJs, including The Lady Speedstick, Butch Cassidy, Lady Miss Navy Pie
r, Nina Ramone and John Twatters.
Get down with Girl Blast at Ann Sather (Belmont)
La Tache Owner Lynne Malec will host Chicago's biggest post-pride party for women from 1-10 p.m. in Ann Sather's parking lot. The 11th annual Girl Blast will feature burgers, hot dogs, cocktails and guest DJs all day long for just $12 (you could also win a seven-day Alaskan cruise). Guests can also head over to La Tache, where Malec will offer the restaurant's signature martinis, like the Andersonville (vodka, rum, pineapple juice) and the Riviera (vodka, Campari, orange juice, soda) for a measly six bucks each. In addition to the discounted drinks, a selection of French-inspired desserts will be offered at half-price, including a trio of gelatos, profiteroles, chocolate-raspberry layer cake and key lime pie.