Halloween is no stranger to bars and restaurants sporting costumes to celebrate the holiday and Beauty Bar in West Town sought to pay tribute over the weekend to Zero Gravity, a suburban nightclub that admitted customers ages 16 to 23. Zero Gravity closed last year after 21 years in Naperville while holding a 90s kitsch and allowing teens to pretend they were big deals. The club didn’t serve alcohol, but it blared music for a tightly-packed dance floor that was once filled with gold chains, colognes that masked body odor, and Girbaud jeans.
However, the owners of the shuttered club didn’t like Beauty Bar’s homage and posted an angry all-caps and non-punctuated Facebook message. The author ambiguously threatened a lawsuit and wrote they aren’t affiliated with Beauty Bar.
“Don’t be fooled by imitators[.] [A]nother bar business is misleading people by advertising a Zero Gravity Halloween party at their location,” Zero Gravity’s post read. “...We are taking proper actions agains this illegal misleading act.”
Beauty Bar has since renamed its pop-up to a more generic moniker: “Beauty Bar as 90s suburban club.” Other than the name, the three-day pop-up (which goes from Friday through Sunday) will remain the same. They’ll have three different nights of retro music (Jock Jams, 90s pop punk, and more) and decorations. Adults can have their nostalgia and booze. Beauty Bar, unlike Zero Gravity, has a liquor license. They’ll also have a photo booth and free glow sticks.
Last year Zero Gravity promised to reopen in a bigger venue. It hasn’t happened, but perhaps they still have an asset to protect. It’s true, Beauty Bar didn’t seek permission, and while Zero Gravity’s management may have “zero sense of humor,” Beauty Bar’s Derek Berry didn’t want to ruffle any feathers and they dropped the Zero Gravity reference. Berry has received a crash course in licensing and intellectual property while co-creating Wicker Park’s Saved by the Bell pop-up. His crew hammered out agreements with NBC to use the 90s TV show as inspiration. The team just released the LA location for Saved by the Max.
Though Berry doesn’t feel Beauty Bar’s vulnerable to a lawsuit, they decided to change names. Besides Saved by the Bell, he pointed out that Beauty Bar’s known for its homages and hasn’t never become a legal target.
Many feel pop-ups fall under fair use copyright law. But bar owners need to be wary. No matter how funny Netflix’s letter to the Logan Square organizers of the Stranger Things pop-up was, it still was a cease and desist order.
Besides Beauty Bar’s pop-up, other places around Chicago are playing dress up for Halloween. Among them, Replay Lincoln Park is dressing up as Moe’s Tavern from The Simpsons and MONEYGUN in the West Loop is going as TGI Fridays. The Wiener’s Circle in Lincoln Park hasn’t played its annual cards yet.
- Zero Gravity in Naperville to close; a new club to open? [Daily Herald]