Goth and punk kids in Lincoln Park don't have to worry about scaring off trixies anymore at Neo. Instead they'll have to avoid them in Wicker Park. The popular after-hours nightclub near Clark and Fullerton is moving out of its home where it's spent the last 35-plus years. The club's lost its lease and will (at least) temporarily move the party down to Debonair Social Club on Thursdays and Saturdays starting on Thursday, Aug. 6.
Neo owner Cal Fortis said there are plans to build a daycare center near the space: "We go from legendary punk club to daycare center."
The club is scheduled for "one last dance" in Lincoln Park on July 30. Prior to that they'll celebrate the club's 37th birthday, as Fortis said Neo was working on a short-term lease, but he recently saw signs that it was time for Neo to move on. Nestled inside an alley off Clark Street, Neo stuck out compared to the surrounding bro bars in Lincoln Park. Dancers grooved to industrial, new wave, goth and punk tunes inside a dimly-lit space. But it's not curtains for Neo, as the plan is to look for a new location while taking over at Debonair on Thursdays and Fridays. Fortis also wouldn't rule out reconciling with the landlord and revamping the existing space for a return.
Debonair lacks the late-night liquor license which allows Neo to stay open until 5 a.m. on Sundays (they close at 3 a.m. on Sundays), but on those select Neo nights, Neo's staff will be working at Debonair to make the transition smoother.
Fortis founded the venerable nightclub Crobar and is a veteran of Chicago nightlife, even owning Frank's down the street on Clark, which hosts a much more buttoned-up crowd compared to Neo. He's worked with Debonair owner Steve Harris, and that rapport is what has saved Neo, at least for the time being. Fortis is proud of Neo's nearly four decades in the same location.
"In the nightclub business, as mercurial as these kind of concepts can be, unless you're [Lettuce Entertain You founder] Rich Melman, how many clubs have you seen that have been open for 37 years?" Fortis said.