Bigger than New Year’s

By Bertha Serrano

It’s the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving and Michael Pryzbylski has anticipated this night all year, every year since he turned 21. He packs his bags and heads home to Munster, Ind., leaving behind all the things that will remind him of his sports management classes at Columbia. School is out for the next four days and the possibilities are endless. It’s party time.

Many become shopaholics on Black Friday, a hectic shopping day for businesses and consumers. Others decide their Thanksgiving celebration will start the night before Turkey Day, also known as Black Wednesday, a night for college students to booze it up at local bars and clubs.

This Black Wednesday will have nothing to do with Sept. 16, 1992, the “Black Wednesday” when the British economy was forced to withdraw the pound from currency.

There is no clear definition of this day or the exact date when it was established. It falls under the same category as Square Dance Day, Cashew Day, National Fried Chicken Day and the rest of those bizarre holidays that came from who-knows-where.

For the past three years, Pryzbylski has celebrated Black Wednesday at the same time as his older brother’s birthday at a local pub back home.

“It’s basically a high school reunion [with] people that I won’t see until the next Black Wednesday,” he said.

A lot of bars would consider this their biggest night of the year. Laura Anderson works at Plush, 1104 W. Madison St., a local bar/club that will be hosting its first ever P.I.N.K. vodka party on Black Wednesday.

“[Black Wednesday has] always been a huge success,” she said. “We definitely need to stock up more than usual. We do fliers and get the word out as much as we can, because most bars have something going on that night.”

The bar Pryzbylski goes to every year charges a cover that night because it gets so busy. He has to arrive by 9 p.m. to get a table and ordering a drink can take 15 minutes or more.

“It’s definitely a fun day in my book,” he said. “For me, it’s the biggest bar night of the year.”

Many have never heard of this day, like Evelyn Oropeza, a junior broadcast journalism major at Columbia. She said she spends the eve of Thanksgiving shopping and planning for the next day to avoid the chaos on Thanksgiving Day.

Instead of going out and partying, her traditions include preparing turkey and doing little things to make the next day easier.

“I’ve never heard of Black Wednesday, and I had no idea people celebrated that night,” she said. “I was thinking it would be called that because everyone goes grocery shopping that day.”

After learning more about it, she said she wouldn’t mind going to the different events around the city. Her only concern would be staying out late because Thanksgiving Day is always exhausting and she always goes shopping on Black Friday, when stores mark down prices to attract hordes of consumers.

Places other than bars will also host different activities. John Krol, marketing director of Whirlyball in Chicago, 1800 W. Fullerton Ave., knows his business will drastically pick up on that night. If the combination of basketball, hockey and lacrosse with bumper carts doesn’t appeal to everyone, he hopes the drink specials will. The bar will be serving $3 Coronas that night.

“Since we do so well on that night every year, we try to make the next year’s event even better,” Krol said.

Kim Schaller has been working at her dad’s bar, Schaller’s Pump, 3714 S. Halsted St., for the past 25 years. Schaller’s is known as one of the oldest bars in the city dating back to 1881. She said for Schaller’s, it’s not the night before Thanksgiving that’s the busiest of the year-it’s the White Sox season opener, since U.S. Cellular Field is only a couple of blocks away from the bar.

“We usually have a nice group [on Black Wednesday],” she said. “People come and hang out right after work and have a couple of cocktails and head home. Since we are such an old establishment, older people come here and they don’t stay out as late as the younger crowd.”

If it’s the first Black Wednesday that parties are an option for you, here’s what’s going on in the city on Thanksgiving eve. Hang out with your friends or family and meet others celebrating this annual event.



DJ David Guetta

1543 N. Kingsbury St.

9 p.m, $35

Club 720

Thanksgiving Eve, Return of the Big Bang

720 N. Wells St.

10 p.m, $10


Black Wednesdsay: Back Track

440 N. Halsted St.

9 p.m, $20; $10 before 11 p.m; $15 before midnight

Stone Lotus

873 N. Orleans St.



Spybar Chicago

Mark Knight

646 N. Franklin St.

Free before 11:30 p.m, $10 after

Double Door

The Steepwater Band, Dirty Rooks, The Lions of Hazelwood

1572 N. Milwaukee Ave.

9 p.m, Free


Van Ghost, Daphne Willis & Co., O’Neal and Wean

3159 N. Southport Ave.

9 p.m, $10

Beat Kitchen

The Safes, Ostello, The Black Belts

2100 W. Belmont Ave.

9 p.m, $8

Smart Bar

Derrick Carter, James Curd

(of Greenskeepers), Justin Waite

3730 N. Clark St.

10 p.m, $10 before midnight,$12 after



2011 North Ave.

8:30 p.m, $8


Lottie’s Pub

Black Wednesday Pilgrimage

1925 W. Cortland St.

Bar Crawl starts at 7 p.m

$20 includes T-shirt and itineraries

Whiskey Sky

Thanksgiving Eve Classic Cocktail and Wine Tasting

644 N. Lake Shore Drive

7 p.m, $20-$30

Crimson Lounge

Samantha Ronson

333 N. Dearborn St.

9 p.m, Free


Black Wednesday: Turkey is Wild

2100 W. Irving Park Road

11 a.m-2 a.m, Free

Lucky Number Grill

1931 N. Milwaukee Ave.

9 p.m, $10-$15