Chicago’s Rhythm: Drink and Learn to Drum

Address: 1108 W. Randolph Street
Chicago, IL 60607

Phone: 312.492.6100
Hours: 6 p.m.-2 a.m. Tuesday-Friday, 8 p.m.-3 a.m. Saturday (phone first)
Age: 21+

Cover: Wednesday $5, Thursday $7-8, Friday-Saturday $8, Sunday $8-12 (check the schedule for changes)

Dress: Don’t worry about it. Whether you’re dressed in jeans and a t-shirt or a Chinese dress, you’ll be welcomed with open arms. Leave the trendy stuff at home, please.

Best way to get there: Sandwiched between a packing company and something else industrial, this place offers a great view of the Sears Tower at night, but not much else. Your best options are to drive (there’s ample parking) or hop in a cab. If you must take public transportation, take the blue line to Racine, then walk five blocks north and one block east. You can also take the #20 Madison Avenue bus to Aberdeen, then walk two blocks north or the #8 Halsted to Randolph and walk a few blocks west.

Vibe: Regardless of the crowd, the atmosphere is always laid-back and friendly. The drumming instructors encourage audience participation, so expect to work together to create the sound. People don’t come here to primp, prance or pose, they come here to beat drums, listen to jazz or spoken word, and let themselves go for a night. The late crowd is already on a spiritual level and all others are usually elevated to a better place after 30 minutes or so.

Quick tour: This modest space houses a sleek bar featuring a variety of beers, including Blue Moon and Boddingtons, and top shelf liquors like Grey Goose, Kettle One and Courvoisier. Exposed brick walls and hardwood floors throughout are complemented by high ceilings and the perfect drum circle which leads to a small stage. The back room features leather couches, sleek tables and drum-shaped armless chairs. Rhythm offers a free coat check every night and the space is smoke-free.

Crowd: Before 11:30 p.m. expect a mixed crowd of curious folks and laidback professional types. After midnight, a diverse crowd made up of artists of every kind trickle in and the drumming, music, or readings get even more intense.

Night to go: If you really want to get the party started, go on a Saturday night. The drinks are flowing and the atmosphere is intense. Instruction starts at 9 p.m. and the drum circle comes to life around 10 p.m. You might find people dancing as if they were in a trance and others beating drums like the pros after just one lesson.

Claim to fame: The uniqueness of it all. Can you think of another spot that mixes drum lessons, crowd participation drum shows and cocktails together?

You’ll feel like you’re in: An ancient ceremony. It’s easy to quickly feeling (pleasantly) overwhelmed by music and emotion.
Music genre: It’s all about live drumming Wednesday, Friday and Saturday night. Intermissions provide a variety of music, sometimes clubby, other times loungey. It depends.

Beyond the dance floor: The dance floor is what you make it, literally. Though you may find it difficult to sit still, if you must chill, check out the cozy back room to the right of the bar. It seats about 16 comfortably. Consider yourself lucky if you score a seat at the bar. You’ll be in the thick of all the action and the bar is so small, you’ll get plenty of attention from the oh-so-inspired bartender

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