Strap on your dancing shoes and warm up those vocal chords. This guide starts off at a locally beloved karaoke bar, then you'll dance the night away at a nightclub credited for helping reinvent Chicago’s house music scene.
1. Karaoke @ Brando's Speakeasy
2. House Calls @ The Listening Room
1. Brando’s Speakeasy
A step away from the Jackson Street Red Line exit, a glowing martini glass neon sign marks the entrance to Brando’s. Inside, darkness meets the rarely graceful tones of the night’s singer.
The place unfolds like a maze. Past tables and booths, you reach the heart: the karaoke stage. A voice fills the room, bellowing through speakers. The bar, lit by chandeliers, oversees the stage. There are no private singing rooms, but no judgement from the audience either. Every voice takes center stage and everyone is a star.
Here, karaoke is on-demand, meaning you can sing a song from the bar’s 40,000 options at any time throughout open hours. Make sure to sign up at the kiosk near the front door; your name will automatically be queued and called when your turn is up.
If you want to take a break from the stage, follow the hallway next to the red “Teatre Comic” poster to The East Room, a bar within a bar. This cocktail lounge offers a quieter experience, complete with a second bar, and intimate seating options.
2. The Listening Room
From Brando’s, embark on the Red Line and take the train a short four stops to River North, exiting at Grand Avenue. Four blocks west, you’ll stumble upon another space behind an unmarked door. A night of dancing and oblivion awaits.
Don your favorite sunglasses — the more they look like a pair Bad Bunny would wear, the better — and descend the steps into a dimly lit, intimate venue that packs less than 200 people. You’re inside The Listening Room, a basement with a 1920s aesthetic where tassel pendant lamps and disco balls hang from the low ceiling and mirrors line the walls.
You’re here for a House Calls show, a regular event hosted by Drew Connor, Cody Kirby and Abby Lagunov who founded the programming company in 2022 to fill a void in the house music scene in Chicago, the birthplace of the notable genre.
You’ll note fairly immediately that attending a House Calls show is like being reacquainted with old friends. The energy in the room intensifies as the night goes on. People pack in tighter and tighter, crowds surround the DJ, heightened by the flashing of a neon “House Calls” sign hung behind the DJ booth.
“There was a gap in the market in Chicago as a lot of the places playing house music were uninviting, a little damp and cold, and, overall, not very approachable,” Connor told Modern Luxury’s CS magazine. “So, we wanted to live in between the underground rave scene and any other bar in Chicago. We want people to meet in the middle and come as they are.”
Things to note:
– The closer to the show’s start time you arrive, the less you’ll wait, if at all, in line. Come 11 p.m. and later, the line to get into The Listening Room nears the end of the block.
– Tickets are available via Dice. Sometimes shows are hosted at venues outside of The Listening Room. The best way to keep track is by following @_housecalls_ on Instagram.