“Why It Gotta Be Black Wednesday”
Updated: Sep 26, 2022
The day before Thanksgiving, a day suffocated in my mind as either a day of travel so arduous that I eat to forget the next day, or a horribly isolating experience seeing a city empty as small connections across the suburbs begin to rekindle. Black Wednesday synthesizes these inescapable feelings of gluttony and social alienation into one, conglomerate located in a ‘sub-tub,’ or subterranean lair for those of you who are not just the smallest bit scared of being in basements at Smart Bar featuring Derrick Carter hosting, “Why It Gotta Be Black Wednesday.” It was a scene in there. I came around midnight, with plans to go with my friend, one of 3 people I knew that were currently in Chicago, but she bailed, so after putting down my fourth ‘Apex Predator’ manufactured in Chicago, by Off Color Brewery, I mobilized myself north.
Standing in line outside against the wall, the cold air that normally cuts through my consistently underdressed layers wasn't present, God was smiling on me. I walked down into the venue, the smile turned to smirk, getting eyed down by the coat check guy for not removing my jacket. When I got down there, I was immediately presented with a crowd that was at least half, barrel-chested, shirtless, white men of all ages in dungaree shorts. It was well tempered in there, but the changing lights gleamed off of the sweat of presumably waxed chests. They maintained their own, separate circle for the most part, hovering around as birds of a feather branching out into adjacent flocks and subsequently returning. This began to inform the crowd that would be here tonight: a crowd of fluctuation. The bass began to flare up, as I took my glasses off to focus in.
Rapid transition in space, from the most liminal I have seen WrigleyVille, to a livelier night than expected I got my, generously poured, Hennessy and Coke and took a gander on the dance floor. Initially, attempting to maneuver past the mass of bodies sweating an unusually high amount, pivoting to finding a nice corner spot on a sitting couch, crossing my legs and remaining motionless gazing into the crowd.
I went in knowing I wasn’t going to dance, that’s okay. Not everyone is going to the shows to dance. As I was watching, certain figures became the focus of my attention, a stouter man who had the limber body of Simone Biles was jazzing and jamming to Derrick’s set. He was my foil, but he spent little time as the muse of my night. He existed in a stark, happier contrast to the other patrons; many people clinging to something of a counterculture: we are doing this instead of Thanksgiving energy, speaking to what I see as just extreme isolation. The median of this crowd tonight was looking to belong somewhere, somewhere where they want to be themselves, to test the waters of agency in an increasingly unpredictable world. This belonging makes Black Wednesday a ‘to-do’ in the way Thanksgiving is a ‘to-do’ and the importance of that structure. Similar to the feeling of receiving a hug from a relative around this time, the structure generated by and from these shows creates a third space between home and work for people to explore. Maybe alone in Chicago I was also looking for that space to belong in, yet, my contrarian brain wouldn’t allow me to enjoy being a patron, but to invent a different role for myself.
About an hour-ish into my watching I felt the need to share what I have been experiencing; across the room sat another watcher. I stood up, caught my breath for a second thinking about how I am perceived in this room, the large cuffs of my black everyday JNCO’s rest above the cuffs of my Uggs, the smallest boy in the biggest clothes decides to shed a layer and walk over to the other. When we talked, she described her own gaze, going with her friends who go every year, not being from Chicago, some other shit that was drowned out by the, and I cannot stress this enough, dazzling set being played that night. We sat in silence for a while, melding a mutual gaze into the crowd. She still didn't seem content watching, eager to converse while her eyes remained glued to an ever changing crowd, only altered by the excessive smoke produced from these machines.
Eventually my want for community faded, faced with the specter of previous Thanksgivings, I stumbled back to the apartment, grateful for all I have. Happy belated Thanksgiving, see you next year at Black Wednesday.