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Taylor Swift Music, Banned at a Chicago Bar, Is Embraced With a Drag Brunch at Another

The pop star has polarized the city’s bar scene

Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour - Atlanta, GA
Taylor Swift is coming to Chicago for the first time since 2015.
Photo by Terence Rushin/TAS23/Getty Images for TAS Rights Management

In the perplexing world of American pop music, there’s a name that seems to provoke more divisiveness than nearly any other. That is, of course, the one and only Taylor Swift — the world-famous 33-year-old singer, songwriter, and workaholic who will make a Chicago stop on her Eras Tour (already notorious for a major Ticketmaster snafu) on Friday, June 2 through Sunday, June 4 at Soldier Field.

The concerts are Swift’s first Chicago gigs since 2015 and guarantee to draw massive mobs of fans. To some, this is good news for the city’s restaurants and bars which continue to plod toward some semblance of economic stability.

At Ina Mae Tavern & Packaged Goods, Pioneer Tavern Group’s New Orleans-style restaurant and bar in Wicker Park, the songstress’ arrival is a reason to celebrate. The team has planned a charmingly campy Taylor Swift drag brunch starring local performers including Kitty Banks and a Swift-themed cocktail menu Saturday, June 3 at 1415 N. Wood Street. Tickets ($30) include a cocktail, family-style brunch, and shows at noon and 3 p.m., and are available via Tock.

Swift’s immense cultural influence and hoards of devoted fans made the decision to hold the themed drag brunch an easy one. “Since we’re a NOLA concept, anything goes,” says owner Mark Domitrovich, whose group also operates Chicago Fire favorite Lottie’s Pub. “We want to keep it light and fun, and we’re always looking for something new. The Taylor Swift madness has been crazier than ever.”

But as with seemingly all things Swift related, there are a few haters who will (sigh) hate hate hate.

In Chinatown, one cocktail bar is taking the opposite approach. A sign on the door at Best Bar, 2233 S. Wentworth Avenue, makes its position clear: “Shake it off: No Taylor Swift music is allowed here.”

Inspired by a regular who requested a ban on Swift's music for his birthday celebration, the sign now indicates a permanent policy, co-owner Chris Cinka tells Block Club Chicago. Instead, Best Bar’s DJs are playing “a variety of house music,” a genre that Cinka associates with his hometown of Detroit but was invented and popularized in Chicago. Requests for Swift songs have reportedly spiked since the sign went up, which the team takes as gentle teasing on the part of customers.

Cinka and co-owner James Urydki are also collaborators on King Karaoke, a decadent new lounge in Chinatown, though there’s no word yet on whether or not amateur singers will be allowed to perform their favorite Swift hit at the venue.

In the end, though, these are merely Champagne problems. Good luck to all who face the wrath of Swifities.

Ina Mae Tavern & Packaged Goods

1415 North Wood Street, , IL 60622 (773) 360-8320 Visit Website