WICKER PARK — An upstairs dance party loft that played a key role in Chicago’s second wave of "house music" through the 90’s, and most recently was another club that shuttered, will celebrate its third iteration as "Annex" this weekend.
Though Annex has been "soft opening" for most of the month, Friday marks the start of the club's grand opening weekend at 10 p.m.
Located at 1958 W. North Ave., on the second and third floors above Tavern, the warehouse style loft was formerly Ohm and before that, Red Dog. It is accessible only through a back alley and up a staircase.
In the 90s, Red Dog served as a launching pad for deejays like Derrick Carter, DJ Sneak, Cajmere (aka Green Velvet), Mark Grant, DJ Heather, Johnny Fiasco, Spencer Kinsey and more.
"What a weird, fun place the Red Dog is," Achy Obejas wrote in a 1993 Tribune story that described a "disco-fied dance floor where the relentless mix is bass-heavy and breathing room is at a premium."
Joey Swanson, program director for Annex and a well-known local DJ who performs under the name "Just Joey," said the goal is to return back to the spot's early vibe.
“Chicago isn’t New York and it isn’t L.A. We don’t want the pretense. We just want an authentic, good time,” Swanson said. “Wicker Park has always been a melting pot and a haven for the outcasts to feel at home. Like Red Dog welcomed and sheltered all, Annex will, too.”
The main 4,000-square-foot dance floor in the Annex has 38-foot-tall vaulted ceilings with painted, exposed brick and steel in tones of silver, black, and dark gray.
Each of the four corners of the room contains a full service bar but most of the space is designated for dancing, with ten tables and banquette seating flanking the room.
On the third floor, a private 2,000-square-foot event space, "The Hot Box at Annex," features a full bar, seating, private bathrooms and a separate sound system and DJ booth.
For the audiophiles, both LED-centric rooms are filled with EV X-Array and X-Sub concert series, high-output speakers powered by 75,000 watts of Crown digital amplifiers.
Swanson, who has 25 years of history in the Chicago music industry, was the creator and host of Sonic Boom, an Electronic Dance Music mix show, on Q101 (WKQX-FM) and is the current host and producer of Electronic Playground on 101WKQX.com.
Just Joey's Boom Boom Room, which began at Red Dog 25 years ago, will return home on Mondays at Annex beginning this Monday, kicking off with DJs Paul Johnson, Diz, Bucky Fargo, and Dustin Sheridan.
On Saturday, an Afterlife party will spotlight Kings of Class.
Annex hours of operation are every Friday and Monday from 10:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. and Saturday from 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m.. A limited catered food menu will be available for private events in The Hot Box. The nightly cover will range from $5 to $20. Reservation for premium liquor, bottled beer, wine, and champagne will be accepted.
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