Nowhere to go, Chicago: It wasn’t easy finding nightlife in April, such an indifferent month when life is neither here nor there and then there was the flood besides. So we thought let’s be exotic and go to the Closet at 3325 N. Broadway to meet Pate, who we heard looks so Euro, but it was her night off and people were standing around playing darts. Then we tried greasy Jimmy’s Woodlawn Tap at 1172 E. 55th near the University of Chicago where everybody was acting uncurious and the hamburgers looked bereft because hardly anybody eats them anymore. We did see a woman wearing pearls and a man wearing a mood ring. Talk drifted from Heidegger and the oblivion of being to news of a paralegal from Lebanon who had written a play. But we wanted it to be the 1950s when people drank martinis and Severn Darden was running around in a long black cape and never going to class because he was too busy being funny onstage with Nichols and May.

Desperate, we went to the Zodiac Club, where people have to tell a man wearing a turban their astrological sign to get in the door and there is a blue light onstage and a man is singing in French and Kim Novak is at a table in a backless dress using her powers to unsettle Miss Kitridge and take Jimmy Stewart away from her. Of course the Zodiac Club wasn’t the solution either. It is located in the movie Bell, Book and Candle. We had to watch the VCR to go there. And Jimmy Stewart is such a goody-goody. We also tried Mother Gin Sling’s circular tower of vice in The Shanghai Gesture where Gene Tierney, in an Oleg Cassini gown and sparkling clip earrings, says “the other places are like kindergarten compared with this.” (This is before she looks over at Victor Mature, the Doctor of Nothing, who is wearing a fez.) And we tried the nameless dive in Acapulco in Out of the Past, where Robert Mitchum walks in looking for a woman who has disappeared, and the Glu Glu Club in Cherry 2000, where people stare into glass spheres watching other people kiss, and the entirely orange nightclub in Valley of the Dolls, where Patty Duke, after Susan Hayward has her fired from the Broadway show Hit the Sky for singing “Give a Little More” just a little too well, says, “Hey, there goes Jennifer with her rich boyfriend.”

When our bottom began to hurt from sitting so much in front of the television it was off to the south side for blue music–House of Se’ra, Artis’s Lounge, Tony’s T.N.T., and Dolly’s. Dolly’s, on Cottage Grove near 75th Street, was the best because there were bottles of Remy Martin, red balloons, red dresses, and complimentary chicken and macaroni and everybody was having fun and a man was singing an Al Green song that we once danced to with an Italian sewer-pipe layer. Unfortunately, one of our companions was a graduate student who informed us over the course of the evening that, among other things: “The idea of reveling in absurdity is cynical bourgeois . . . I prefer clubs not listed in the papers . . . When I go, I try to avoid a kind of patronizing attitude . . . Blacks are very very badly treated.” We were especially grateful to him for that last bit of information, which we would not have known if a white man working on a dissertation hadn’t told us.

Oh well, April doesn’t matter anymore because it is over. The nights will be more alive when we spend our days in the garden reading Hume and watching the flowers practice the mambo.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Tom Bachtell.