I had to go to Chicago for a day and a night (or a night and a day) and it led to some new nightspots that may tickle your fancy as the Windy City has thawed to a summer breeze. Of course, it would either be my Chicago Carl or my personal 'supermodel' Itika who would get me out and about. This time, it was Itika, who served as my 'cruise director'. (Both she and Carl are so committed to making sure I'm entertained when away from home. This time, it was Itika). Itika had a college friend in town and we learned we have the National Association of Black Journalists in common. She was a student within the organization a few years ago and is this year being honored at the NABJ Convention in August (www.nabj.org) with the "Emerging Journalist of the Year" Award at the "NABJ Salute to Excellence" celebration. Her name is Mara Schiavocampo, New York-based freelance reporter, and she is one to watch. (www.marasonline.net/). She without the 'umbrella' of a mainstream brand has 'branded' herself an experienced reporter, network television producer, and editor and she has traveled internationally as a contributor for various broadcast, print, and on-line outlets. Often, she shoots her own material, which has been seen everywhere from ABC News Now/ABC News.com (abcnews.go.com/International/story?id=2024136&CMP=OTC-RSSFeeds0312) to Uptown Magazine (www.uptown-magazine.com/indulge_c_4.html ). She too is an video journalism instructor for Media Bistro (www.mediabistro.com/courses/cache/instr356.asp). And in her 20-something-ness, she lives in Harlem with her husband and a cat and a dog, both rescue animals. I repeat: ONE TO WATCH.
Oh! And by the way, Mara is lots of fun. We first went to Alhambra Palace Restaurant (www.alhambrapalacerestaurant.com) for "Takeover Thursdays". Though we'd already eaten, this is a Moroccan restaurantat. But more than that it was a seven-room backdrop for great networking and cocktails. It's quite palatial as you walk through. I felt like I was in the real Alhambra in Spain as I observed all of the marble and furniture which read North Africa and Morocco. One website description: "The center of the restaurant, crowned in a 35-foot high, copper-laden ceiling, sits up to 450 people. A marble fountain trickles in the back of the space; diners perch in velvet-cushioned chairs and a stage flanked by towering palm trees hosts live jazz, flamenco and belly dancing performances. There's also a bar, a formal dining room wrapped in hand-carved walls, a 6,000-square-foot banquet hall (need a space for 300-400 people? This is it!) and two sky box rooms perched above the main area." GET THE PICTURE!
From there, one of Itika's friends Shawn (a promoter about town) took us to The Victor Hotel to continue the party (www.victorhotelchicago.com). It boasts a wonderful nightclub (and good sushi). We spent a couple of hours here - taking in the scene. The day began to wear on Itika and Mara, who excused themselves. I stayed out for the last two stops - joining Shawn and his posse for two more sets. Then, we segued to a well-attended and NEW after spot, Crescendo, one-stop dining/drinking/dancing venue complete with a 4am license. (http://www.surrealchicago.com/site/epage/6285_319.htm). Then, we segued one last time to "Spy Bar" (www.spybarchicago.com/).
On the heels of all this club-hopping (not exactly my favorite thing to do, but in the moment, I surrender to the itinerary), the sun was coming up. I had a few hours to ready for my flight home as the night was joyful and complete. If you're in Chi-town - whether a night, a weekend, or holiday - there's always something to do. As a city, it is truly becoming one of my favorites for down-time, up-time, and in-between.
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