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Chicago's most inclusive dance parties

Leave discrimination at the door; there's a place for everyone at Chicago's most welcoming parties

Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas

Parties are a crucial part of the fabric of life in Chicago (and in any city, really). They’re the places where we gather to celebrate, tune out the world and find solace in music, movement and excellent company. While dance clubs and bars still rule the city’s nightlife, there are a growing number of parties that offer a super-welcoming environment for underrepresented communities. And at a time when our nation’s founding ethos of acceptance and inclusivity is being threatened, these gatherings are a more crucial refuge and support network than ever before. The following parties were founded in Chicago, by some of Chicago’s best-known movers and shakers, for all Chicagoans—regardless of their sexuality, color or gender—and they serve as proof that the dance floor can still be a revolutionary space.

Where to hit the dance floor

CumbiaSazo

When David Marques, Tiffany Hinton and Isabel Buchanan-Arellano began throwing parties at arts centers and lofts, they focused the raucous nights around cumbia, a type of percussive Latin American dance music. Until recently, CumbiaSazo maintained a monthly residency at Double Door (now it's looking for a new home), featuring performances from DJs, VJs and bands as well as colorful decorations, live painters, artisan vendors and tacos. “Our theme is to create the world we want to live in. We wanted a space where it was about compassion and diversity,” says Marques, noting that the party attracts people of all backgrounds who seek an alternative to conventional male-dominated club culture. CumbiaSazo’s popularity has led to a nationally touring version of the party and a family-friendly summer-music festival at Ping Tom Memorial Park—a testament to the event’s ability to get just about anyone’s hips swaying.

Dates vary, check the listing for more information.

Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas

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Party Noire

For its founders, Party Noire—a monthly gathering of black millennials and their allies—was a necessity. “We didn’t have a reference,” says co-organizer Nickecia Alder. “There wasn’t [a party] that was curated by black women that was providing a space for black DJs.” Since launching the day party in 2015, Adler and co-organizers Lauren Ash and Rae Chardonnay Taylor quickly established a community of regular attendees, who arrive at the Promontory ready to dance, connect with their peers or play board games. “We’re always centered on black joy,” says Ash, noting that Party Noire has proved to be a “very powerful, very affirming and very healing” place during difficult times for Chicago’s black community.

Dates vary, check the listing for more information.

Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas

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Queen

Chicago nightclub the Warehouse was famously the birthplace of house music in the ’70s, and today, the weekly Queen! party at Smart Bar carries that torch, both for the genre and the inclusivity it embraces. Each week, resident DJs Michael Serafini, Derrick Carter and Garrett David spin records and curate a lineup of guest DJs (including artists like late house-music legend Frankie Knuckles) while hosts Lucy Stoole and Jojo Baby prowl through the crowd. Attendees can fill the dance floor or make new friends at the bar as the comforting pulse of bass drums and the haze of fog machines fills the subterranean club. “Queen! comes from the old-school mentality that it’s about the party,” explains Serafini. “From the DJ to the people who come to just let go on the dance floor—it’s about everybody.”

Sundays at 10pm; $10.

Photograph: Erik Kommer

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Slo ’Mo

If you see a line outside Logan Square cocktail bar the Whistler and hear D’Angelo tunes wafting out of the door, you’ve likely stumbled upon Slo ’Mo (short for “slow jams for homos and their fans”). Founded by Kristen Kaza and DJ Tess in 2011, the party unites queer women and allies with nostalgic and contemporary R&B (care of resident DJ Audio Jack and a rotating cast of guests). “It’s so important that we are providing a space to create and express joy,” Kaza says of the community fostered by the party, which has expanded to include yoga classes and trivia nights. Capacity at the monthly soiree is less than 100 people, so arrive early, order a cocktail and squeeze onto one of the most intimate dance floors in the city.

Every third Thursday at 9:30pm; free.

Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas

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Even more places to dance

Burly

Logan Square hipster dive the Burlington fills with even more bearded guys sipping cheap PBR than usual at this monthly queer bash overseen by resident DJ Butch Sassidy the Come Dance Kid.

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The Burlington , Logan Square Wednesday May 17 2017 - Wednesday June 21 2017

Deep Dish

Leave your hang-ups at the door and embrace body positivity at this party hosted by drag performer Lucy Stoole, featuring free pizza, deep house music and go-go dancers.

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Berlin , Lake View Monday May 1 2017 - Monday June 19 2017

Duro

This monthly nocturnal Latinx and LGBT gathering is always filled with clever decorations, dancing queens and underground Latin club music from resident DJ [X]P. It also serves Jarritos cocktails.

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Until Wed Mar 8
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FKA

Recommended

A veritable LGBT nightlife institution since 2008, Formerly Known As (FKA) invites individuals of all gender identities and sexualities to arrive early (well before 10, if you don’t want to wait in line) and hit the dance floor at one of the city’s longest-running gay bars.

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Big Chicks , Uptown Friday May 12 2017 - Friday June 9 2017

Hideout Dance Party

Recommended

This revived late-night dance party at the tucked-away venue welcomes outcasts of all stripes with a rotating lineup of soul, disco and punk-rock DJs.

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Hideout , River West/West Town Until Sunday May 21 2017

Night Names

Recommended

Set a new high score at this arcade bar’s monthly queer night. Guests can take advantage of free pinball (make sure you take a turn on the classic Star Wars and PIN·BOT tables), enjoy bar specials or bust a move in the back room with resident DJ Essential Logic.

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Logan Arcade , Logan Square Thursday May 4 2017 - Thursday July 6 2017
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Quest

Embrace your adventurous side with hip-hop and house music from resident DJs Audio Jack, Black Gold and [X]P. The cover charge benefits local charities and causes.

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Stardust

Recommended

Berlin has Thursday nights on lock like NBC in the '90s. Promoter Scott Cramer curates a rotating selection of Thursday-night parties, including the women- and nonbinary-focused party Rosebud and queer-fashion showcase IT Presents.

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Berlin , Lake View Thursday May 4 2017 - Thursday September 21 2017

Salonathon

Recommended

Arts programmer Jane Beachy’s weekly underground artist showcase begins with readings and performances, then transitions to a sweaty, inclusive dance party.

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Beauty Bar , River West/West Town Monday May 1 2017 - Monday June 26 2017
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TRQPiTECA

Organizers Natalie Murillo and Jacquelyn Guerrero combine tropical vibes, art installations and South Side DJs to create a DIY paradise for the queer community. TRQPiTECA's regular Pilsen venue, Junior's Sport Bar, was recently closed, but the party will go on at pop-up events.

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Comments

1 comments
M Davis C
M Davis C

The beauty of Chicago is evident in its people :) <3