by Britt Julious
La Boum has big dreams for a small room, but that doesn’t seem to be a deterrent for the organizers of this new LGBTQ nightlife party.
Taking place at Disco, the small nightclub perched atop the River North restaurant Celeste, La Boum aims to bring a more diverse, inclusive event to the neighborhood.
It will be a big task. The city’s LGBTQ nightlife scenes are not located in River North. Partygoers are more likely to find events in Pilsen, Logan Square, Edgewater and Boystown than most anywhere downtown. And River North, despite its abundance of restaurants and mega clubs, has not been considered a reputable nightlife destination for the city’s underground 20- and 30-somethings in years, if ever.
And yet the first La Boum, which took place over Halloween weekend, was something of a success. Featuring performances from scene stars like MONARX, Mike Ninja, Mister Wallace and DJ Cqqchifruit, La Boum made the seemingly impossible possible — a fun dance party downtown.
Much like the Disco nightclub aims to bring more authentic nightlife to the River North scene, the La Boum organizers aim to bring disco and dance music in general back to its more authentic roots within the LGBTQ community. Aggressive, cis male-centered EDM nightlife this is not.
According to La Boum organizer Walter Santiago, no detail was ignored in the development of La Boum. “We pulled together a little bit of what we like to call our think tank of influencers, some queer folks from around the city,” Santiago said.
And although La Boum, which is filled with oversized disco balls and fantastic, handcrafted outfits and blinding, multicolored lights, is unequivocally the most fun one will have in River North, Santiago was conscious of the emotional and social risk it took to create this environment.
“When we think queer and gay nightlife in Chicago, we go straight to Boystown,” Santiago said. “(The owners of Disco) helped us manifest something I’m passionate about, which is a safe space in River North for queer identities.”
Santiago considers his new party to be “political in a way,” at least in relation to the neighborhood in which it takes place. “Yes, we’re trying to create a safe space. Yes we’re trying to create this high-standard, high-fashion party of people who work really hard in their industries,” Santiago said. “But what’s separating us is that we’re definitely breaking stigmas and trying to intersect Chicago. This party is open to everybody, and what I want to do is push norms.”
Upcoming editions of La Boum promise to be as eclectic as its debut. Future performers include Bambi Banks, House of Enid and BonBon. And like last month’s edition, which benefited the Center on Halsted, organizers will partner with other nonprofit organizations including Project Fierce and the AIDS Foundation. For Santiago, he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“It’s all about intersection. I’m just trying to connect at any layer that I can,” Santiago said. “The only way for us to survive is for us to be brave, for us to be radical, for us to have high standard, high fashion, and really show what we can do.”
When: 11 p.m. Nov. 19
Where: Disco, 111 W. Hubbard St.
Tickets: 21+, www.discochicago.com