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Neo Closing Iconic Lincoln Park Location After 36 Years

By Paul Biasco | July 17, 2015 3:53pm | Updated on July 20, 2015 8:33am
 Neo is closing at the end of the month.
Neo is closing at the end of the month.
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Flickr/L P

LINCOLN PARK — The city's oldest nightclub, Neo, is moving from its Lincoln Park location.

The unique club, which is located down an alley behind a line of storefronts in Lincoln Park, has been operating since 1979.

Neo will officially close at the end of the month and the space will be taken over by a daycare center that currently operates in the storefront in front of the club.

The longtime owner of the building, John Crombie, said he had been negotiating with the owners of the nightclub since the fall on a new lease, but things fell through.

Crombie said he offered the owners a "big drop" in rent, lower than the owners were paying in 2006, but they could not come to an agreement.

"We went to Neo, we said, listen guys you have to fix this place up, this is an expensive neighborhood and this is a nice building. You can’t be running a god d--- dive here," Crombie said.

The club's manager, Dann Szymczak, posted that Neo is not closing, but lost its lease in Lincoln Park at 2350 N. Clark Street.

The nightclub is known for its back alley underground location as well as cavernous and dark dance floor that has catered to an alternative crowd for years.

Crombie said the club was in bad shape and had deteriorated over the years.

"You would go in and there was all kinds of dust and cobwebs and there were rats coming up in the floor behind the bar," Crombie said. "I've got tenants upstairs who pay quite a lot of money in rent. You can't have a s--- hole downstairs. It's not fair to everybody else in the building."

Crombie, who owns a number of other buildings in Lincoln Park, said the former owner of the nightclub died in December and his two sons had been running it remotely from New York and Florida ever since.

The father had always paid rent on time, but things had deteriorated since his death, according to Crombie.

"It's basically been run down over the years and they never put any money into it," Crombie said.

One of the most popular events, New Wave Thursdays, will continue, but at a new location "due to circumstances beyond our control," according to a post on Neo's website.

Starting Aug. 6, Neo Thursdays will move to Debonair Social Club in Wicker Park, 1575 N. Milwaukee Ave.

The daycare center located in front of Neo, L&L Academy and Preschool, 2325 N. Clark Street, will be expanding into the Neo space later this year.

Crombie said he was sad to see Neo close, as it was one of the first bars he visited when he immigrated to Chicago from Scotland around the same time Neo opened.

"I was young. I went there," he said. "I had fond memories of the place, but they never spent a dime on the place since they opened."

The club posted a photo on its Facebook page Friday morning urging its 8,765 fans to take a pill.

Calls to Neo were not returned Friday afternoon.

Neo was the place to be for the cool kids in the 80s, as Chicago musician Kate Fagan explained in her 1980 song, "I Don't Wanna Be Too Cool." For your Friday listening pleasure:


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