It’s now pretty well established that I love cheese. It’s also accepted that piano bars are cheesy. Ergo, I must love piano bars, right?
Add to that my red hair and you’d think I would spend a considerable amount of time at Redhead Piano Bar. Truth is, up until this week I hadn’t been there since shortly after I moved to Chicago. This afternoon I had a late lunch with Julie Cameron of Urban Shop Guide, who also hadn’t visited Redhead in years. She’d stayed away for the same reason I had: we thought it was all tourists.
It’s not that we have a problem with tourists. I promote tourism to Chicago and want more and more people to visit this great city. She also thrives on tourism, by leading shoppers to boutiques in neighborhoods beyond Michigan Avenue. It’s just that not only am I a local, but when I travel I want to go where the locals go. In fact, that’s how I came up with the name “The Local Tourist”. Another reason is that everyone and their brother has covered Redhead.
So how did I end up at this place where (I thought) locals fear to tread? After a networking function at Martini Park, two movers and shakers invited me to accompany them, with one rule attached: we had to sit at the piano.
I tell ya’, I don’t care if the place is swarming with aliens, I loved it. Sitting at the piano, singing along with everyone else in the place because everyone knew all the words to all the songs, it felt like one happy kum-ba-yah around the campfire.
Truth be told – I’d say about half the patrons were Chicagoans. If you want to go where the locals go, you can feel safe heading to Redhead. I found out the next day a good friend of mine, another local, also tried to go the same time I was there, but they weren’t allowed entry because her companion was wearing sneakers.
If you’re not the sing-along type, the back half of the bar is far enough away from the frivolity that you can have a martini or a scotch in relatively safe distance from the shenanigans. But really, what’s the fun in that?
Redhead Piano Bar
16 W Ontario St