‘There’s No Other Place In The World Like Danny’s’: Chicago Mourns The Loss Of A Legendary Bucktown Bar

A lot of organizations     have closed because of the pandemic. Few devastated Chicagoans just like the closure of Danny’s Tavern. “There’s never been one love it, and there in no way will be once more.”


Hannah Alani

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BUCKTOWN — Some of Chicago’s most celebrated bars and restaurants have closed this year due to the pandemic, however whilst Block Club said the closure of Danny’s Tavern in Bucktown, the devastation turned into widespread.

From Bucktown to Park Ridge to Seattle, people from everywhere in the united states are mourning the loss of Danny’s, which opened in 1986 at 1951 W. Dickens Ave.

While the bar’s owners would no longer touch upon the closure, longtime staffers and regulars stated the tavern have been suffering to live afloat even earlier than the pandemic hit.

After reporting the bar’s closure, Block Club obtained more than seventy five notes from readers who shared their memories of Danny’s.

Many shared their love for the bar’s themed track nights, including Smiths Night, Soul Party, Hot On the Heels and Night Moves. A handful of Chicago DJs reflected on the “free” and “uncensored” inventive network fostered by way of longtime supervisor Kevin Stacy.

Readers keep in mind an unnamed “muffin female” who showed up at the bar in her Jeep to sell “natural” treats at the same time as bands like Tortoise performed.

Danny’s is where Cari Franz shared her first kiss together with her eventual husband in 2001. It’s in which Andrew Furth took his destiny wife on their first date — and in which he proposed to her 10 years later, after the pair had moved to San Francisco.

Bucktown local Megan Hastings used her faux ID at Danny’s within the ’90s whilst she become in high school. The bar is wherein Charleston native and DePaul University scholar Francesca Mathewes celebrated her 21st birthday.

Several humans described a night at Danny’s like “going to someone’s rental.”

One night within the early ’90s, then-university student Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) took a set of his buddies from the Chicago suburbs to Danny’s Tavern.

But Hopkins didn’t inform them they were going to a bar; he informed the organization they had been headed to a house party in Bucktown. Once inside Danny’s, Hopkins stated, the pals didn’t query the validity of the declare.

“I led them to accept as true with Danny’s changed into a person’s house and they had the coolest bar in the international,” he said. “That changed into a unique detail of Danny’s; it felt such as you were being hosted at a person’s residence, in place of in a bar. … There’s by no means been one love it, and there in no way will be again.”

The dance floor at Danny’s Tavern throughout “Soul Night” in 1999.
‘A Place Where You Could Be Free’
Danny’s was opened by Danny Cimaglio in 1986 and bought in the ’90s to Michael Noone and Terry Alexander, who went on to begin One Off Hospitality, one of the town’s maximum famous eating place businesses. Noone and Alexander declined to be interviewed for this tale.

In the late ’90s, Stacy and Ken Kordich were hired to renovate the interior of the bar, carry in a valid mixer and release a tune software.

Working with a “very limited finances,” Stacy said the duo commenced with Play, a routine Monday night display with DJ Bob Davies that was devoted the electronic dance music scene. Another EDM night, Beau Wanzer’s Hot on the Heels, lasted for 14 years.

Soul- and funk-themed nights followed. Soul Party, famous amongst Reckless Records employees, exploded overnight whilst Rolling Stone mag featured the occasion, Stacy stated. After that tale posted, Danny’s suddenly had strains out the door.

Kevin Stacy and Ken Kordich in front of Danny’s Tavern in 1998.
Many readers advised Block Club their reminiscences of partying inside the upstairs portion of Danny’s. That piece of the bar closed in 2003 after a stampede inside E2 nightclub killed 21 people.

“A 12 months after that tragedy the fire branch confirmed up … our capability was eighty four,” Stacy said.

Limited potential made lines even longer, he said. Stacy regularly had to run interference with associates, ensuring those ready in line have been quiet and respectful.

It changed into important to Stacy to ebook numerous talent, along with girls DJs attempting to interrupt right into a male-dominated enterprise. He remembered turning away “puffed-up” membership DJs who might critique Danny’s for no longer hiring DJs who knew how to “match beats.”

“It changed into certainly essential to us to e book humans … primarily based on their flavor in music and in the event that they had been a pleasant character,” Stacy said. “We just wanted the vibe to be advantageous and appropriate.”

Gwen Lemos at Danny’s Tavern in 2002.
DJ Marc Davies, referred to as Black Pegasus, played across the world for years, but stated in an e-mail Danny’s “held its own” towards European nightclubs.

Whatever Davies felt like gambling — jazz fusion, disco, boogie, funk, Latin, Brazilian and African grooves, even the “bizarre left-field TV business songs” — patrons would dance until near, he said.

“Some of the magic of Danny’s was the reality it become never a pretentious bar stressing get dressed codes nor top-tier social status for access. You felt at home as soon as you walked within the door,” he stated. “One of my fondest reminiscences is a man who tipped me $seventy five for buying his spouse at the dance ground and displaying them each a great time.”

Damon Locks deejayed at Danny’s 2003-2018. He credited Stacy for curating eclectic but meaningful units at the same time as encouraging spontaneity amongst performers.

“People who cared about tune artwork and taste might go to Danny’s,” he stated. “It changed into a completely unique location that I surely cherished. In the early days, to be sincere, from time to time you could sense the floor bouncing under human beings. It was a bit risky, however it became first-rate.”

A DJ performs at Danny’s Tavern at some stage in a “whiteout birthday celebration.”
In addition to giving DJs a level, Danny’s presented access to other art. A month-to-month poetry series that ran 2001-2015 gave more than 2 hundred poets an target market, Joel Craig said in an e mail.

“Throughout its programming — and it WAS a programmed area — that’s the sort of tangible lifestyle it incubated,” he stated.

While Smiths nights had been “mythical,” Hopkins said he in no way checked the lineup earlier.

“I preferred to be surprised,” he said. “You just knew you couldn’t pass incorrect. Whatever it turned into, it became gonna be quite cool. It became quite difficult to differentiate Tuesday night time from Saturday night time at Danny’s. It become a everlasting weekend; it had that vibe.”

Desmond Taylor first hung out at Danny’s in 1994. He moved to Bucktown from his formative years domestic in Roseland and in 2008 began operating on the bar as a doorman and later as a bartender. Taylor additionally deejayed at Danny’s.

“As a DJ it become an area where you can be free,” he stated.

‘It Felt Like A Home’
Danny’s changed into home for provider industry employees, artists, DJs and people who labored in Wicker Park’s information shops — and it was even called one of the nice dive bars inside the world, Taylor said.

“The craziest component become, I’d be running on a Monday, and at nine p.M. Someone would stroll in and say, ‘I’m in Chicago for paintings and a pal advised me I needed to come right here,’” Taylor said. “I can’t let you know how frequently on a bar serviette I wrote down, ‘Those eating places in your listing, don’t cross, they suck. These are the things you want to do at the same time as you’re right here.’ The randomness of it … . I’ve made so many buddies everywhere in the international.”

Stacy strived to preserve the entirety about Danny’s “easy.” During the 2 decades he worked as supervisor he in no way created social media accounts. He stored the bar coins-handiest.

When the “cocktail subculture” craze swept thought Wicker Park and Bucktown — timed with Alexander’s starting of The Violet Hour, a One Off mission — Stacy desired Danny’s to remain “non-homogenized.” He always stocked the bar with crowd favorites, whether that changed into Hennessy, Malibu Rum or flavored vodkas.

“One of my biggest troubles with the nightlife culture is once someone does some thing that everybody can replica, then absolutely everyone does that,” he stated. “People didn’t come to Danny’s to be cocktail connoisseurs. People came to Danny’s to have amusing and to bop and enjoys themselves.”

A dance ground at Danny’s Tavern all through Soul Night in 1999. “I assume all and sundry in this image labored at Reckless Records,” longtime manager Kevin Stacy stated.
Danny’s is remembered with the aid of many as a secure space for queer human beings. Chances Dances become an LGBTQ-precise DJ night time, Stacy stated.

“It became an not likely queer haven for this weird, queer female and I am so thankful for all it helped me figure out or allow go of,” City Bureau co-founder Andrea Faye Hart said in a tweet.

Locks, who does now not drink, said Danny’s become extra than just a bar. From gain concerts helping programs that introduced art to prisons to birthday events, DJs and regulars alike may want to always depend on Stacy to assist turn Danny’s into whatever become wished, he said.

“If a bar ought to experience like a domestic, it felt like a domestic,” Locks said. “It become an area that turned into bendy sufficient that you can be a part of growing a area and all you needed to do was name Kevin. … The best thing that Danny’s should offer changed into community, and it became a quite safe area as properly, you know? People had your back. Sometimes bars can be unpredictable locations. But Danny’s became pretty dependable.”

DJs Supreme Court and Dante Carfagna carry out for the duration of Soul Night in 1999 at Danny’s Tavern.
‘End Of An Era’
Danny’s faced monetary problems earlier than the coronavirus shutdown. In 2015, a dispute among the bar’s landlord and the proprietors threatened to shut the bar. But neighborhood aid — consisting of a Change.Org petition created by means of normal Jamie Mack — in the long run helped keep the bar in operation.

Not all buddies cherished residing subsequent to Danny’s. As Bucktown gentrified, the quiet block attracted wealthier families, a number of whom could regularly name the city on the bar to file noise ordnance violations or other issues, Stacy stated.

In a less concrete feel, Danny’s also suffered from the general shift in bar lifestyle that appeared to coincide with the net’s boom.

With the upward thrust of dating apps, weeknight income started out to plummet as singles lost interest in spontaneous real-existence meet-ups, Locks stated. As song streaming apps grew in popularity, the hobby in going out to listen stay music regarded to wane, too, he said.

“It’s clearly an give up of an generation,” he stated. “As instances changed and as human beings’s conduct changed, it become more difficult. You used to head there because you needed to hear proper music. … [Now] people simply use Spotify. People used to go to locations like bars to fulfill humans, have dates. Now there are dating apps. The bar culture has modified plenty.”

Taylor agreed. Even earlier than the pandemic hit, Danny’s had started to lose the “randomness” that gave the bar its appeal, he said.

“Danny’s was so random within the high-quality viable way,” he stated. “I suppose so one can be misplaced. … It become spontaneous. The electricity of that constructing, whilst you just concept the ground would fall in. People going crazy over the most random song. … That is what’s gonna be ignored on this city. … It was just a outstanding f-cking bar.”

Dan Worland went to Danny’s after a shift at Big Star in past due March — the ultimate night earlier than the bars and restaurants were shut down because of rising coronavirus instances. Before leaving Danny’s that night, remembered telling everyone, “See you on the alternative aspect.”

Danny’s Tavern in Bucktown closed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We all pointed out what we concept would manifest and now we understand. Turns out that was it,” Worland said. “Is it real to mention there’s no vicinity in the international like Danny’s? Probably no longer, but who cares about the ones different locations?”

Taylor’s final bartending shift at Danny’s changed into the Friday before the March shutdown.

At the time, he and his coworkers concept they’d be out of work for 2 weeks. Eight months later, he’s trying to make peace with the bar’s final.

“I’m sad that I won’t have a place to visit simply to hang out and pay attention to outstanding music,” he stated. “That become the maximum essential component to me, simply going there and knowing that every night time I went there, there might be some track I’d in no way heard earlier than. … I actually have the angle that this [pandemic] passed off to anyone. A lot of people are worse off than I am. I can’t reside too much on it. Personally I’m OK, I’ll be OK. I know all and sundry who works there may be OK.”

If you want to support Danny’s staffers, you could donate to their GoFundMe fundraiser here.

The deejay board at Danny’s Tavern in 2014.

Kevin Stacy poses for an advert for Danny’s Tavern. The ad turned into published at the back page of Make Magazine in 2004.

Danny’s Tavern in Bucktown closed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Danny’s Tavern for the duration of a “whiteout birthday celebration.”

Longtime supervisor Kevin Stacy deejaying on a Friday night time at Danny’s Tavern in 2010.

Section of the men’s toilet wall inside Danny’s Tavern in September 2018.





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