September 12, 2018

I Know Cool People: Raks Geek/Uptown Underground Closing

(Originally posted via my Facebook Author Page. Some edits made for clarity)

Right now, I'm feeling a definite loss. (And this is gonna be a *long* post)

Earlier today, Uptown Underground - a theater located on the north side of the city - announced that it was closing. Permanently. And I'll be honest, it hurts.

Part of it is my love of vintage theaters. Part of it is that I worked in Uptown when I was a research assistant for Harvard University. But a large part of it is that two of my friends, as well as various performers, are being affected.

I was introduced to Raks Geek via - we were both on the board of Chicago Nerd Social Club. She had encouraged everyone to attend a show, but somehow, I managed to be too busy. In fact, the only other contact I had with Raks Geek were scattershot, high-school-corridor-type conversations with Michi's friend Dawn.

But my first exposure to Raks came at a C2E2 afterparty - Dawn did a really cool fan dance in a TARDIS dress, Michi spin fluorescent spheres (the theater's fire code prohibited pyrotechnics), and Kamrah (another performer in the troupe) was a bandaged SILENT HILL nurse.

(It was good...but creeped the hell out of me. Not criticizing, because I respect the artist).
But in time, the Uptown Underground became a great way for me to connect with my fellow geeks...but also enabled me a bit of nostalgia. Feeling like I was the rough-and-tumble dude once again venturing into depths of Chicago to explore hidden treasures. It provided some sense of escape, community, and belonging. I was fortunate enough to attend Raks Inferno last week and celebrate Dawn's birthday - yes, she invited me. And I was honored to accept. There were no hidden warnings, no vibe that suggested that this would happen...but it did, and the loss is difficult to process.

For many performers, especially those from marginalized communities, the loss is even harder. It was sudden, abrupt, and seemingly forced. (No, I don't have the details, and I don't care - I only care about the people who are affected by this closure).

My point: I'm asking those of you who read this blog to help by spreading the word. I'm embedding a Twitter thread with booking/hiring information. It's the kindest, most compassionate act I can take - after all, artists and creatives deserve to do the work they enjoy and be compensated for it.

Consider this as a sad reminder that sometimes, a venue is more than a venue - it's a home for a community. And no one ever gets over losing a home.

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