Alisa Hauser from Block Club Chicago has the story about the latest closure of Evil Olive, the Wicker Park nightclub which has been open for most of the last 11 years. Apart from other genres, Evil Olive has hosted a slew of Chicago electronic music residencies. Perhaps most notable to outsiders, it hosted part of the Chicago Vs. Detroit Boiler Room event in November 2015.
Evil Olive has become the latest in a chain of closings of the minority of nightclubs in Chicago that served the dance music and electronic music community. In 2015 it was The Shrine. In 2016 it was Green Dolphin. In 2017: Primary. Stick around long enough and you’ll see them all go, it seems.
In August, a bouncer for Evil Olive was shot outside of the club at Division and Ashland. As was the pattern with The Shrine and Green Dolphin, heat was immediately brought down on the club – not just the area’s alderman but even a neighboring alderman even demanded its immediate closure. The Summery Closure Ordinance allows the City of Chicago to immediately shutter any establishment that constitutes a “public safety threat”; it can last 6 months, by which point most establishments are economically destroyed.
Evil Olive managed to open up again this week, but city inspectors immediately shut it down for “dangerous electrical, structural and egress issues,” according to Block Club Chicago. This is the same reason Primary was closed last summer; it still is.
Chicago’s “Chiraq” rep has gotten pretty fucking annoying as its penetrated the national discourse, but there’s really not much question that the city can be a violent place. And it’s probably inevitable that the tide of violence would wash up on the threshold of the places where we drink, listen to music, dance and have some fun. In multiple cases here, it was the club employees that were the actual victims of violence. I can’t imagine how a club could create an environment to avoid their bouncers being shot on the street.
Despite the love/hate relationship the community has with some venues, I can’t think of any reason why anyone would want to bother jumping through these hoops. Hauling nuclear waste in a pick up truck seems like a better gig than opening a nightclub in Chicago. Aside from these issues, we also have a county board that is fond of retroactively reinterpreting tax law on a whim that threatens to drive everyone out of business.
And so it goes. Nobody should really be shocked that big city politics are what they are, but we live and work in the third largest city in America and we’re becoming the tiny town from Footloose where the city fathers have made dancing illegal. Which never works: people just take the scene underground, where the concern trolls and city fathers have even less say over what goes on and where.