By: DeoVonte “Deo” Means
When I came on the scene as a young lad in the early part of 2000, Chicago’s club scene was legendary internationally. I discovered within my first visit To Club Centrum and The Prop House why this was so. At that time, no matter what side of town you were from or what part of the community you most related to, Chicago’s club scene was grown, sexy and alluring. You could tell even the most masculine dudes took two looks into the mirror before leaving home to make sure everything was sitting and the ladies were LOVELY. The 4 mitigating factors that tied us all together mentally were that 1- You were gonna look good. 2- You were gonna have a great time. 3- Hopefully, by the end of the night you would have scored a date and 4- I will see yall again next week for a repeat. Rain, shine, sleet or snow; if you were a part of the scene in anyway, on a Friday night by 11pm you started either preparing or making your way to The Prop House on Elston. We waited in lines, at times to the alley, but once we got in and past those black curtains, we were immediately overcome with an image of some of the most beautiful and sexy men & women of our city. To satisfy everyone, The Prop had two rooms. Front room was house and back room was hip-hop. You generally made your way thru the entire club, clocking dates and speaking to your friends and feeling popular and Fab. Once the first go-round was completed, you generally got a drink and settled in whatever room you decided and that’s when the fun began. We would dance and party the night away. We were so of a loving mindset that we shared everything. Drinks were shared and at least five blunts were always in rotation in the back of the front room for whomever wanted to hit it. The last thing on our minds were fighting and ratchedness….we were too busy being sexy. We’d be so into it that 3:30am would roll around and we would be shocked and upset. The DJ announced “last call for alcohol” and that’s when you knew the fun adventure had just ended for the night and you were in a state of euphoria and didn’t want the night to end. We would hang out and fellowship after the club in the alley for about an hour, but the Shell gas station across the street was the REAL hangout spot. Oh how we carried in that parking lot. I could go on about stories from the The Prop, but the underlying theme is that for the most part, we carried ourselves as adults with class, morals and respect. We came out to have fun and date. We had one or two fights every blue moon, but fighting was not a glamorized asset within our community at that time. In fact it was shunned. Grown & sexy was our theme and we exhausted all due-diligence to give that. Even if it was only surface level. Word of Chicago’s club scene became so iconic that it spread like a wildfire and out-of-towners were flocking here to visit The Prop House. Many even relocated here. A Chicago experience was not complete until you visited the Prop House and we made sure they gagged when they got here. Many of our lifelong friendships were established in that space.
In 2014, we are left with one option. Visions. Visions is actually a really nice back section of the legendary Excalibur club in downtown Chicago, but the targeted demographic has rapidly become one that consist of the ratchet, misfit, society rejected, low-level ball kid of the city. Guest descend upon the club before the free entry cutoff while drinking Dmitiri in the car to avoid buying drinks inside. Fake Louis Vuitton, Forever 21 and tee-shirts and sweat pants tend to be the attire. The guest rush to the dance floor and makes it clap really hard all night until the liquor in their system begins to hit. At that very point, someone accidentally steps on their toe on the dance floor and that’s when all hell breaks loose. Fights break out inside and outside until the point where the Chicago Police Department is lined up down the street with flashing lights as if Osama Bin Laden was reported in the building. Not only have out-of-towners began to read the quality of our club scene but the grown and sexy has begun to disassociate itself from that part of the scene in massive numbers. This is sad to me because you now have a class of individuals that possess the disposable income to thoroughly enjoy themselves and add to our city but they no longer feel comfortable or appreciated partying with those who CLEARLY did not develop social skills and don’t possess the ability to act as civilized members of society. The sexy adults of our community are labeled “old” or “elitists” and our voices doesn’t count. The goal is no longer to enjoy yourself and elevate our community. The goal now is what demographic will be a dedicated weekly customer that will in turn line my pockets and give me a false sense of purpose.
Here is the problem. Club promotion is no longer a hobby or side gig. It has taken on the same popularity as “crafting” did in the early 2000’s..Everybody doing it. If you can’t get a job, then become a club promoter and make as much money as possible with the lowest overhead. When your hobby becomes your only source of income, then you have to bend and fold to the tides of those that feed you. You can no longer be selective. You have to open the doors to all that wanna come and hope you can deliver what they want, which in the case of the misfits happens to be ratchetness. It doesn’t matter where you go, if you attract and promote to ratcheedness then that’s what’s gonna follow you and they’re gonna act with the mindset and antics of just that. You can’t bring a Warthog into Saks and not expect some type of damage…even if on a leash. Secondly, Chicago’s club scene is becoming to “hood nigga.” Where is the community pride and diversity? This is the first time in history that I’ve seen the gays trying to duplicate “the hood” and not the hood trying to follow the gays lead. Chicago’s promoters are over-abundantly catering to those in the community that has a hood mentality all because they will pack your club out weekly. Those of us with jobs and that live in the real world are ignored because we cannot commit to clubbing weekly and we also believe in looking a certain way while out. I would only expect someone that’s socially impaired, unemployed and laid up in the house all day on FB, to come to the club weekly. It’s their only source of social interaction. But I also expect them to act a fool at the drop of a dime too. It’s built up anger. It is not my intent to cause damage to the pockets of the promoters. My intent is to yell with a bull horn, get some standards and sophistication back into your clubs and stop catering to those that are nothing but an embarrassment to you, your business-line and the city. No one comes to Chicago anymore to club. In fact, you have a HUGE demographic of residents with disposable incomes that don’t even come out anymore, and this is why. Nobody wants to party with hood rats. You can get that on Jacked. When we party, we wanna party with sexy dudes with a civilized and adult mentality. Stop catering to the rat and perfect your cheese…don’t you know the rat is ALWAYS gonna follow the cheese. A mentor of mines recently told me. “You know Deo, it’s a sad day in Chicago when the young dudes under 25 are excited and anxious to go to The Pub.”. I could not agree with him more. I’m so thankful that I experienced Chicago when we were at our finest…Now THAT was a site to see…Cheers Chicago
I want to say thank you for speaking about this issue…. I love and appreciate you for that….
Nobody’s come to Chicago to club since The Warehouse, Music Box and the Ritz actually. Yea, I’m an old head. The club scene in Chicago has been dismal for the last 25 years or so … There use to be easily 6 or 7 black clubs you could hit …. hasn’t been THAT way in a very long time.