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A 300 Person Rager In Wicker Park Got Shutdown Over The Weekend And The City Is Not Happy

Block Club - The city broke up a 300-person party early Sunday in the basement of a former bank in Wicker Park.

The illegal party was being held in the basement of 1612 W. Division Ave. — the former home of the Bedford, a cocktail bar, city officials said Monday. The “dangerous and unlicensed commercial party” had about 300 people who weren’t wearing face coverings or social distancing, Isaac Reichman, a spokesman for the city’s Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Department, said in an email.

The Vault/All Access, which organized the party, received five cease and desist orders; a closure order due to dangerous conditions, like not having smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors; and nine citations for violating coronavirus restrictions, not having proper business licenses, allowing smoking indoors and operating sparklers indoors.

Kyle Sneed, president of the Wicker Park Committee, called the party “outrageous.”

The committee is an influential neighborhood association that routinely weighs in on matters of importance before the City Council, including zoning change requests. Before La Spata introduces RDM’s request for a zoning change, the developer will need support from WPC members.

“I’m not sure how it’s possible for something like (that party) to actually come to fruition right now,” Sneed said. “As a community member, I’m angered. The building owner, party operator and patrons should be ashamed of themselves. Blatant disregard for public health and selfish on many levels.”

“Actions like this are a slap in the face to the thousands of businesses and millions of Chicagoans that are making sacrifices every day to keep our city safe, and we will continue cracking down on this inexcusable activity,” Rosa Escareno, commissioner of the city’s business department, said in a news release.

So this went down over the weekend. It's actually gone down for almost every weekend since bars got shut back down but seems like the city and media are finally catching wind of them.

This one went down at a basement bar/restaurant that used to be in business on Division St but has been closed for a couple years. 

My group and I walked the space with the building's owners back after it closed. "The Bedford", before it closed, was run by some of the best guys in the city, before they packed up and headed for the Upper Peninsula to open and operate a hotel on Lake Superior. The space was amazing, as the article states, it was a former bank vault, complete with walk-in vaults, wall safes, and walls lined with safety deposit boxes. Was a great space with a great cocktail program. 

Anyway, they closed, and the owners, like most, were in la-la land regarding what they wanted for rent. And key money. The result? A space sitting vacant for years.

How you go from turning down operating groups looking to make a deal to allowing promotion groups access to your space to throw 300 person underground rippers like this is beyond me. 

I know the kid behind this too. The worst part is when the cops showed up he ducked out and left his girlfriend there holding the bag. Literally, she got hit with the tickets. 

One person isn't to blame though. These things are being run like full-scale nightclub operations.

They have full DJ lineups playing, bringing in large scale audio equipment. They have people working the door security, girls working bottle service for tables they sell, bartenders, bussers, the whole shebang. And of course, they have customers paying entry fees, for drinks, and even bottle service prices like they're at a table at Bounce on a Saturday night. 

People have to eat, and have bills to pay. And people want to get out of their house, and live life. I get it and aren't shaming anybody on either side. It's just that the city constantly playing this cat and mouse game gets nobody anywhere. 

Forcing bars and clubs and restaurants to close isn't stopping people from going out and socializing. It's just making it more dangerous and rampant. Rather than be in a controlled, regulated place, with restrictions and rules in place (that you the state can and do monitor) you're opening the floodgates and encouraging underground free-for-alls like this shit. 

But what do I know?

I'm just the guy that does his job.