by Miles Raymer
Rumors have been afoot for a while now that Sonotheque is about to close, and John Dugan at Time Out Chicago just confirmed them. But there's a wrinkle: Dugan quotes from an e-mail from Empty Bottle talent buyer Pete Toalson, who writes, "We can confirm that the current ownership group—one that includes Terry Alexander, Joe Bryl, Bruce Finkelman, Donnie Madia and Peter Toalson—have sold Sonotheque and it will close the week ending November 15th. The new ownership group continues to include both Finkelman and Toalson, and now adds Paul Devitt."
Devitt is the owner of the Beauty Bar chain of nightclubs, which began as a single bar in New York City in 1995 and has since expanded to include outposts in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Brooklyn, Las Vegas, and Austin. Dugan doesn't go so far as to say that Sonotheque's going to become a Beauty Bar itself, but a source at the Empty Bottle tells me that it will. If that's true, the club will most likely have its retro-futuristic interior design replaced by the kitschy retro-beauty-parlor aesthetic that the other Beauty Bars share.
How much the club's sound will change remains to be seen. The other Beauty Bars host DJ nights, most of them offering some combination of indie, throwback rock 'n' roll, and electro, as well as occasional appearances by name-brand DJs. Presumably the Bottle will continue hosting dancier bookings at the club, as they have for a couple of years now (I'm waiting to hear back from them), so the quotient of hipster-friendly events isn't likely to change dramatically. But as Dugan notes, Bryl has already taken his Brazilian-music night to the Charleston, and Sonotheque's other regular international-music nights may also have to find new homes.
More details as they arrive.
Update: Toalson has replied to my e-mail asking whether or how the Bottle's bookings at the space will change once it becomes a Beauty Bar. "I'm still mulling over programming options at this point," he writes. "That said, there are definitely, obviously artists we've worked with at Sonotheque that will still fit within the aesthetics of the Beauty Bar concept. In fact, I feel as though our programming reach might now be more expansive, rather than reductive, as we can consider genres that heretofore haven't been a good fit for Sonotheque."