Luckily, Billy Dec and team had our backs, and were able to score a spot with a 4 a.m. liquor license not too far away (AY CHIWOWA); but our hearts yearned for the return of the classically cool River North joint. In keeping their word for a summer re-opening and with the anticipated launch of Lollapalooza weekend, the team at Rockit delivered a four-day extravaganza to remember (unless you were the victim of a few champagne showers).
R29 was lucky enough to attend the official opening party on Thursday, August 1 and chat with Billy Dec about the night and details on the new Underground.
When did the Rockit team decide it was time to revamp Underground? What did the design process of entail?
"We had always planned on innovating, beautifying, and renovating the space when things slowed down, but thankfully the slowing down just never happened. Randomly, a 4 a.m. license in Chicago became available (now, AY CHIWOWA), so we jumped at it as both a venue and space to house all our Underground staff so no one lost their jobs while we renovated. We — Arturo Gomez, Brad Young, and myself — were all very involved in the design process. We worked with design group Esyn who co-designed the original space with us and brought our ideas to life exactly how we envisioned."
So, what are some of the biggest and coolest differences?
"It's SO different! It feels twice as big, twice as tech'd out, and twice as beautiful as the original. With inspiration from the direction technology has been moving in, we went for sleeker, smoother, modernized, and comfortable — yet capable of so much more. For our newly designed lounge space, we gave it a much more textured and storied feel, with antique-like finishes and furnishings that were integrated with modern touches. The lounge includes an extensive mixology and champagne bar program that completes the space perfectly."
"We made huge improvements to both the sound and lighting systems, which will engulf guests and stun both regulars and first-time patrons alike. We really wanted the lighting to react to the music and to be very responsive to everything happening in the club. We installed a cutting-edge, high-definition LED video wall that will envelope those in its wake; this video wall will serve as the ultimate party display. We really wanted people to not just hear but feel the music and they will with our new custom five-way audio system powered by 40,000 watts of Crown Audio Amplifiers."
The opening night was packed with gorgeous people and celebrities. Who were some of the most notable guests?
"We had DJ Rock City spinning all night and a ton of celebrity guests in house: DJ Vice; Lil Jon and Randy Jackson – who both grabbed the mic at different points. Ryan Cabrera also came and guest DJ’d; Theophilus London made an appearance as well as Jaslene from America’s Next Top Model."
Underground Chicago, 56 West Illinois Street (at Dearborn Street); 312-644-7600.