3160 Piano & Cabaret opened in 2006 after a major face lift. It served previously as Annex 3, once a famous stomping ground for gay athletes. Long-time owner Jim Flint felt the bar needed to be revamped, renamed and, although it remains a gay bar, 3160 openly welcomes people of all ages and sexual preferences. It offers a different atmosphere then most Boystown bars even though it’s located a little off the “Boystown strip” on Clark Street, just south of Belmont.
3160 features some of the top cabaret and piano entertainment in Chicago and occasionally welcomes talent from all over the United States. Live music is featured five nights a week, Tuesday through Sunday, with certain nights reserved for 3160 regular performers. There’s never a cover charge, a perk that is hard to find, especially at bars in Boystown and throughout the city for that matter.
On Tuesday nights, the bar hosts an open mic night for comedians with the show starting at 9pm. Wednesdays are reserved for The Paul Marinaro Jazz Trio. While I’m no jazz expert, this trio is truly talented and I promise you will definitely be back for more if you go see them. The group belts out classic jazz tunes and some original pieces too. Fridays feature Pop Goes the Gio performs just about any song you can imagine on the piano. Pop, R&B and techno are specialties but he also incorporates comedy into his performances. He is very talented and, if you’ve missed him playing at other Chicago clubs, 3160 is the perfect place to check him out. Other 3160 performers vary from comedic talents on Mondays to cover bands on other nights.
One of my favorite things about 3160 is the audience participation. Several performers like to get the crowd involved, occasionally inviting audience members get on stage and sing along. I’ve never been brave enough, but have watched many of my friends do it and what can be more entertaining then watching your friends make fools of themselves?
3160’s upscale feel makes it one of the nicer bars in Boystown. It’s also got somewhat of a 1970s vibe, with white linen covered tables set amongst banquet hall chairs and vintage leather furniture. And let’s not forget the disco balls that hang from the ceiling near the main stage. Tables near windows overlooking Clark are for those who want to hold a conversation during musical performances (or play electronic darts), and there’s more of a lounge area with couches near the piano. The overall mood at 3160 is very relaxed. I like to come here to chill with friends and hear good music. I never visited the bar when it was the Annex 3 but I’m told that a lot of the regular “A 3’s” still hang out here out of loyalty, so there’s a nice mix of gay and straight music lovers alike—though the framed photos of male underwear models appeals mostly to the former…
The music alone is well worth the experience but, more importantly, 3160 has a full service bar and drink specials that vary each week. Prices are fair but nothing is overly cheap. If you’re feeling peckish, 3160 doesn’t serve food but there’s an abundance of late-night restaurants and fast food joints nearby. 3160 is owned by Jim Flint of JF Enterprises, the original owner of the Baton Show Lounge, Continental Pageantry Systems, Redout and Annex 3. Hours at 3160 are 3pm-2am Monday through Friday, noon-3am Saturday, and noon-2am Sunday. If you like 3160, you might also want to visit Redhead Piano Bar and Davenport’s. For more information and music listings, check out the 3160 website.