Bienvenidos a Chicago!
Chicago, a traditional 'Mercan town, is also an exciting, cosmopolitan city. Chicago offers a variety of cultural events throughout the year, and really comes alive in the summer! Our city, where the skyscraper was invented, still features some of the most exciting architecture in the world. US history can be read in Chicago's neighborhoods, where wave after wave of immigrants carried with them their most cherished customs and traditions. Chicago is now home to more than one hundred ethnic groups, and every one of them contributes to this world-class city.
Our .con proposal focuses on a few of Chicago's greatest assets: food, museums, jazz, and warm, welcoming people. We've chosen these dates because during Memorial Day weekend Chicago hosts both IML and Bear Pride. There's so much to do and see in Chicago that staying here a few extra days and then attending the .con would be a fabulous summer vacation for anybody! To this end, we are currently negotiating with both a luxury and a budget hotel to provide group discounts at two price levels for people. (And some local motssers have offered to help with housing people.) We're also working with an airline to provide a conference rate for travel. Chicago, with two major airports, is easily accessible from anywhere in the world. (Extended vacation ideas follow the proposal.)
In order to make such a large, diverse city easy to manage for a group the size of soc.motss, we will be arranging reservations for a number of people at several different restaurants each night. We've taken into account differing tastes, diets, and budgets in doing so. And we will be providing a .con packet with details and addresses of more restaurants besides, as well as a public transportation map and other useful items. If you're coming here early, just ask and we'll mail it out to you in advance. Also, being the geeks we are, during the .con we'll be providing a Meridian voice message system for up to the minute schedule information as well as a frequently updated web site with local information links.
Finally, early summer is usually our sunniest time of year, and the weather is warm without being unbearably humid, as the Great Plains tend to get later on.
Following are our proposed .con schedule, then ideas and restaurant and sight-seeing suggestions for those of you looking forward to an extended vacation here.
Day: Outing to the Brookfield Zoo. It's in the 'burbs, and is a really good zoo. Also, they have a group discount for groups of 10 or 12 or more.
Dinner: Reservations will be pre-made at the Dellwood Pickle in Andersonville, Thai Town in Boystown, and Greek Islands in Greektown. Or, of course, choose your own.
Afterwards: Tim Pierce has volunteered to lead a tour of downtown piano/jazz bars.
Brunch: West Egg Cafe, Gold Coast.
Afternoon: Gold Coast shopping — where all the boutiques and upscale department stores are. Also in the neighborhood are the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Museum of American Art. In addition, the Art Institute is just a short bus ride away as well.
Welcome Reception/Dinner: Reza's (Persian). 7–10pm or so. A fabulous restaurant, with a large private room for us as well as a good wine list.
After dinner: One of Chicago's most famous off-Loop theatre productions, Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind. It's 60 plays in 60 minutes, and loads of fun.
Morning: Free time! We figure everybody will need the time to sleep in by now...
Lunch/Afternoon: Enjoy the beautiful lakefront view, play beach volleyball (yes, we have beaches!), join a football (soccer) game, or whatever. Swim at the Belmont Rocks (the gay beach) if the water's warm enough. We'll be providing the food (burgers, red hots, veggie burgers, chips) and asking for a small donation to help with the cost. It'll be BYO Soft Drink (Park District rules, sorry).
Alternative for the sun-shy (or in case it rains): Andersonville (Clark Street, from Foster to Bryn Mawr) has loads of women-oriented shopping, from Women and Children First bookshop, Woman Wild, and the Landmark — a woman-owned shop coop. Not to mention great Middle-Eastern and Swedish restaurants. Boystown (around Belmont on Halsted and Clark) boasts loads of gay-oriented shopping, including Gay Mart, which actually stocks the elusive Cock Ring Magic Ken dolls. And the bars in both area will be open, and likely even busy, on a summer weekend afternoon.
Dinner: Reservations will be pre-arranged at: Giordano's (our favorite Chicago-style stuffed pizza place), Blind Faith Cafe (in Evanston, reachable by El and the best vegetarian restaurant in the city), Las Mananitas (a boystown Mexican restaurant with the best margaritas around) and Arco De Cuchilleros (a boystown Tapas/Spanish restaurant, and a favorite for chi.motss gatherings).
After dinner: We'd like to get group theatre tickets to a show (TBA - everybody's favorite production), if people are willing to send in the money in advance.
After the theatre:
Women's and Men's Pub Crawls: Ilona has offered to lead a pub crawl of the Chicago lesbian bars; likewise, Josh has offered to lead a pub crawl of the men's bars. Come along, drink and dance, and see what Chicago has to offer! (The separate tours will likely meet at the end at The Closet, a lesbian bar that ends up with men in it after 2 am, because it's the only 4 am gay bar. Go figure...)
*Late* Morning: A trip to Chinatown seems in order, for Dim Sum at Won Kow - a particularly good restaurant that people who live in Chinatown even seem to eat at. It is unfortunately, not entirely accessible for the disabled (it's upstairs and has no elevator), so volunteers will help carry anyone up who needs it. (Hey, it worked for Ilona with her own mother once...)
Afternoon: A trip to the Museum of Science and Industry, on the South Side, seems like a logical place for this crowd to visit :-) The MSI is one of the city's most popular attractions, including a lunar expedition exhibit, a model coal mine, a 16-foot model of the human heart, a relatively new permanent exhibit on the growing influence of information technology, a really nifty F16 flight simulator, and a new, well-reviewed permanent exhibit on AIDS. We can also catch whatever is playing at the (attached) OmniMax theatre.
Then, the Hyde Park area itself is worth visiting for the wonderful architecture and it's numerous and huge used bookshops. There are also a number of good restaurants in the area.
Dinner: Reservations will be pre-arranged at Mama Desta's (Ethiopian, in Wrigleyville, right north of Boystown), The Berghoff (an Old Chicago tradition, a posh German restaurant in the Loop) and Goose Island (a casual Brew Pub with Cajun and American food, and excellent beer).
After dinner: Country Western dancing at Whiskey River (gay all Sunday, every Sunday). If it's an Inta's women's night, Ilona is willing to take the women there. (It's a very upscale, quite formal nightclub in the River North area. Bring a dress and your makeup, or a tux, if you're into such things.) In addition, The Green Mill, Al Capone's old club, still has excellent jazz (even on Sundays), and a casual atmosphere in the Uptown area. If the bartender's in a good mood, she'll even take you downstairs to see the old tunnels.
Straggler's brunch: Ann Sather's on Belmont. *The* GLB brunch place, with the best cinnamon rolls ever!
Adler Planetarium, Shedd Aquarium, DuSable Museum of African-American History, Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum, Field Museum of Natural History, Frank Lloyd Wright's home and studio in Oak Park. The Lincoln Park Zoo is free and fun.
Outlet shopping is great in both Kenosha, Wisconsin and Michigan City, Indiana, both accessible by train and about 90 minutes from downtown. GLB-oriented shopping in Oak Park, Andersonville and Boystown.
The Chicago Architecture Society offers a variety of organized tours. Also, self-guided tours make sense of: the Loop, the Frank Lloyd Wright tours, Hyde Park, Oak Park and Pullman.
The Indiana Dunes National Park is accessible by train. Chicago itself has a number of parks both in town and in the surrounding areas.
(This proposal was drafted by Ilona Koren-Deutsch, Tim Pierce, Ellen Seebacher and Josh Simon.)