Chicago Magic Lounge

15 October 2019

The interior bar of Chicago Magic Lounge
Photo courtesy of Chicago Magic Lounge Facebook.

 

It’s spooky season, and there’s nothing we like better than a little bit of magic as we approach Halloween…which takes us to the Chicago Magic Lounge on Chicago’s north side — a speakeasy-style club and lounge that’s bringing magic back to the city.

 

A Mysterious Past

Chicago is a city full of secrets, some of them just around the corner, and some of them even centuries old. The city was steeped in magic during the late 1800s and early 1900s, a time some like to refer to as “The Golden Era of Modern Magic.” It all began when famed magicians Harry Houdini and Howard Thurston met at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. They, along with local great Harry Blackstone Sr. and others, brought magic to the city’s scene. 

In 1000M’s own South Loop neighborhood in 1898, Houdini rose to popularity with a jail-break magic trick that would go down in history. He was placed in shackles and leg irons and locked in a South Loop jail cell, from which he then freed himself. Meanwhile, Blackstone, whose name was derived from 1000M’s neighbor The Blackstone Hotel, invented the famous lady-in-a-box trick. Magic was innovative, wild and on the rise, paving the way for Chicago to leave its mark on the mysterious art form.

 

Chicago-Style Magic

Much of the magic done by the greats — Houdini, Thurston and Blackstone — was done on stage, where sleight of hand might go unnoticed by the audience. But in the 1950s and 60s, magic was taken a step further. “Close-up magic,” or “Chicago-style magic,” was a new style pioneered right in our hometown that allowed the audience to experience tricks tableside, leaving them to “see it and believe it” before their own eyes. The new frontier allowed for a levy of magic shops and shows to pop up across the city, from south to north. Chicago was a haven for musicians, and magic was at every turn and every bar. 

 

Chicago Magic Lounge

In the 1970s, there was a backlash against magic, as an overpopulated scene was diluted by those less talented than the luminaries that made the art so popular and beloved. One by one, the shops and shows began to close. 

Now, the Chicago Magic Lounge is bringing back this lost history to our city. Hidden behind the facade of a laundromat, this Art Deco-style speakeasy bar and lounge is showcasing a new era of Chicago-style magic — alongside a slew of equally magic food and drink offerings. Each night of the week brings a new show to the stage, in turn bringing a new generation of magicians to gather in Chicago and reinvigorate some of the old magic. 

The Chicago Magic Lounge is located at 5050 N Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60640. You can find more information and purchase tickets to see a show here.