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Notes From the Underground

An after-dark destination resurfaces—and a club within a club comes to life.

From left: Arturo Gomez, Brad Young and Billy Dec in the revamped Underground

If you want to see the likes of Katy Perry, Bruno Mars or any other celeb who comes through Chicago, The Underground is definitely the place to go. Hence, it was a bit of a surprise when the owners, Billy Dec, Arturo Gomez and Brad Young of Rockit Ranch Productions, announced the club was closing for almost half a year for renovations.

And what a difference five months has made. The club is back—freshly renovated with a new Lounge area in the back (picture a gentleman’s hangout complete with dark wood tables and leather couches), a 40-foot HD screen in the front room and an exposed boiler room seen through new in-club windows.

In addition to a new external staircase serving as the entrance, the Rockit Ranch team and consulting design group Esyn created a whole new experience for Underground frequenters: Industrial concrete beams and lighting synchronized to the music capture the high-energy essence of the club. The ceiling features a suspended geometric lighting installation, and the gray couches and tables are sleek and modern. The famous CIA map still lights up one wall, and the industrial-cool bunker theme persists.

But just down the hallway from the main room (to the north of the bathrooms, for all you regular visitors) is a hallway to the Lounge, where there’s a slower vibe. (An unused space was built-out for this area.) There are plush leather couches, chandeliers, and a separate bar and elevated DJ booth. Young also called on graffiti artist Erik DeBat to freestyle the art in The Lounge, which adds a ’70s rock flavor to the space.

“We even surprised ourselves with the finished results of The Underground,” says Young. “This was one of the rare instances where design actually exceeded expectations. Due to our new entrance, and a ton of innovative design and risk taking, people walk into what they believe to be a brand-new club.” Open 10pm, Thu.-Sat., 56 W. Illinois St.,