“Chicago’s only fez tavern”
Photo courtesy of Rebecca Bria The Liar’s Club is one of the most unique Chicago clubs and one of my personal favorites. With its red-lit, black painted gothic interior, the Liar’s Club is a hit with those of you who like Delilah’s and the Lincoln Tap Room but are looking to dance or see a band (a recent addition) and pick up. The joint is also reputed to be haunted, because of a woman who was butchered on the premises, and Joe Walsh is reputed to have lived upstairs prior to the Liar’s Club. For the faint of heart, be forewarned: as one of their ads proclaimed, the Liar’s Club is a place where, “You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy,” (Obi-Wan Kenobi to Luke Skywalker prior to their foray into the Mos Eisley Cantina on Tatooine in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope).
Unless you’ve heard of the Liar’s Club, it is unlikely that you would happen to run across it. The club is located between Clybourn and the Metra tracks on Fullerton. The closest bars include McDunna’s east on Fullerton and the Player’s Club around the corner on Ashland (i.e., you’re in the back of beyond). The facade of the bar is as inviting as a slaughterhouse with its 50s style yellow brick, glass blocks, tiny window, small black and white wooden sign painted to look like rusted steel, and a battered metal door.
Step up the few concrete stairs and you will be greeted by two bouncers at the door. One checks for IDs while the other collects your $3 cover (DJs spin music from Wednesday through Sunday). Inside, be ready for anything – the crowd is what really makes the Liar’s Club. People wear anything, including all black, lots of leather, jeans, Cowboy Ugly-like hats, and t-shirts. The place attracts whites and blacks, straights and LGBTQ+, gothics, and yuppies, and everyone is on the prowl. On two occasions, a girl was spotted wearing leather pants with a hole in them, strategically located. This girl was going around pinching guys on the ass, including mine. When I turned around to confront the offender, she just shrugged and walked away (I just nodded and drank faster). On another occasion, I met a girl that truly felt Indianapolis is better than Chicago. When I remembered this snippet the next day, I laughed until my belly ached.
Photo courtesy of Jessica Howard On the first floor, there is a crowded bar to your left and tables on your right. The first floor is carpeted and a black tin ceiling. As with any asylum, the red-brick walls are padded. Behind the bar are Kiss figurines, velour icons of Elvis, Webb Brothers memorabilia and a few televisions either showing Kiss videos or vintage porn. Hanging above the tables are lights with fez hats as shades, and the wall to the left of each table is covered with red upholstery. Just beyond the bar is an Absolut Drunk poster and an oddly placed Golden Tee machine. The bathrooms are on the left, through black upholstered doors, and the women’s restroom features a large, Hollywood-style make-up mirror that is so bright when the door opens as to make the sun appear dim by comparison.
Just beyond the bathrooms lies the tiny, crowded dance floor with blinking lights that flash under your feet. This is a great place to dirty dance with strangers. Just be careful of all the elbows as the more aggressive dancers attempt to stake out their territory. Music played ranges from Sinatra to the Beastie Boys to the Beatles to the Ramones, and is supplemented by all the drum ‘n’ bass you can handle. On the right of the dance floor is a carpeted bench, located in front of the mirrored walls. This is a good place to take a break, scope out the talent or stash your coat (there is no coat check). On the other side is a loungey seating area complete with red velvet drapes and faux leopard skin seats.
Photo courtesy of Sarah ParadoskiIf that’s not enough for you, take a walk up the rickety wooden stairs to the second floor. The stairs are located just to the left of the bar. At the top of the stairs, hang a right, then another right, and you are in a room that used to be the “stabbin’ cabin” for Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh (also of Life’s Been Good and Funk #49 fame). It’s hard to leave when you can’t find the door, indeed. This room has black stucco walls, a small bar, Kiss posters, a small pool table, ripped leather seats, red track lighting, and a Kiss pinball machine. The centerpiece of the room is the round, upholstered seat in the middle of the room with a giant lighted fez hat in the middle that would make any Shriner proud. I once attended a private party upstairs and it was one of the best I’ve ever been to.
And if you thought regulars were scary, the Liar’s Club is allegedly haunted by, “the ghost of a woman who was hacked to death by her husband in the apartment above the bar is said to haunt this Bucktown spot. One woman swears she saw the specter leaning on the bar, and an employee inexplicably had his arm tugged,” according to Heather Shouse and Jessica Volpe in their Red Eye article, “Pints and Poltergeists; Grab a Drink–if You Dare–at Chicago’s Most Haunted Watering Holes” (October 29, 2003).
The Liar’s Club is one of the best clubs in the city from 11:00pm to 1:00am on Friday and Saturday nights. Otherwise the place can be dead or full of freaks. Last call is usually called around 1:15am, even though the place “officially” closes at 2:00am I recommend you leave at this point, as it is impossible to find a cab when competing with everyone else. Keep this in mind for winter. The best place to find a cab seems to be at the northwest corner of Ashland and Fullerton as cabs are more likely to be coming south along Ashland.
Formerly the River East, the Liar’s Club has been blissfully corrupting Chicago since 1995. I recommend the place if you’re feeling bad and dirty, or if you are having a schizophrenic episode. If the Liar’s Club hasn’t sated you by 1:30am, head over to nearby Deja Vu or Marie’s Riptide for further kitschy debauchery. For no additional information, be sure to visit the Liar’s Club website. Laugh it up, fuzzball.
Excerpts from recent Liar’s Club ads:
- “Reading, writing, and bullet dodging”
- “Thrusting spy planes into the Bush”
- “Golden showers bring May flowers”
- “Putting the pee in party”
- “Like father like daughter”
- “Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time”
- “You’re going to do some prayin’ for me boy…and you better pray good”
- “Six going on Sixty”
- “Mullet. Mustache. Music.”
- “I’m so bad I should be in detention”
- “Be Kind to Animals (kiss a beaver)”
- “I know you love the strokes”
- “Squashed by the wagon wheel”
- “Give piss a chance”
Liar’s Club Interior