Local Reggae Club Returns to Its African Roots | Bleader

Local Reggae Club Returns to Its African Roots


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You can be forgiven if the phrase "Wrigleyville reggae club" makes you think of stoned frat dudes doing that stupid bouncy-twirly toddler dance that frat dudes do when they get super high and start feeling "irie." But the Wild Hare is actually a decent place, and over the past 25 years it's been a valuable spot for reggae fans in Chicago—a city with a reputation for not being into reggae—even though as an institution its tastes are sometimes frustratingly orthodox for some of us.

So the e-mail I got announcing that the club would be closing May 15 is bum news, if not totally unexpected. Music clubs, like record shops, are being hammered by the bad economy with an assist from an increasingly corporatized business environment, and niche operations are often the first to fold.

The news isn't totally bad, though: Chicago's losing a major reggae hub, but Addis Ababa is getting a new one.

Wild Hare owner Zeleke Gessesse is an Ethiopian refugee who fled the country ahead of its political, social,

  • via chibarproject.com
economic, and environmental collapse in the 1980s. But it seems that things at home are looking up for Mr. Gessesse: according to a press release issued today, he's working on opening a "55,000 square foot, seven story building in the rapidly expanding commercial hub of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia," which will house a new Wild Hare. "The structure designed by Atul Karkhanis Architects," it continues, "will implement a 'classic meets modern architectural style' with solar panels and sustainable features." The plans call for the facility to include a recording studio as well.

I will definitely swing by and check out the place the next time I'm in Addis Ababa. But at the risk of sounding like a First Worlder with an insane sense of entitlement, I'd like to point out that the reggae scene in Addis Ababa is already way stronger than the one in Chicago—if someone would like to open a new reggae club here, I'd say right now would be a great time.