Back in my early 20's I shared a very strange experience. Not paranormal, not supernatural, nothing like that at all. I grew up 20 miles outside of
Chicago, IL. When I was 21, I moved to the North side of Chicago w/ my girlfriend and we shared a one-bedroom apartment in Lakeview. She was a few
years older than I was, she had her degree, a great job and at the time she was the bread winner in our relationship. I was still trying to figure
things out at 21, I didn't have my degree yet and I found myself working jobs in the Chicago bar scene, first starting off as a door guy, but quickly
moving up to bartender.
Once I gained a little bit of experience, I took a bartending gig off Division St at a place called Finn McCool's, it was an Irish-themed bar in a
very exciting, tourist-driven part of the town; lots of foot traffic, crazy nights in the bars and up and down division st, I could honestly tell
stories about Chicago PD and drunk tourists who ran their mouth, which never ended pretty.
Within a couple months of working at this bar, I developed a friendship with my bar manager. On weekends, once the bar closed (4am on Fridays, 5am on
Saturdays), we would go next door to a bar called the Lodge and sit with other industry types, typically managers/bartenders and we would drink, I
know what you're thinking, "who drinks that late, I mean early?", well, industry types do who have messed up schedules that aren't like your typical
9-5 worker. Anyways, I never knew about bars doing this, I figured bars would all be closed due to liquor license laws, but that was never the case.
After about a month of this routine of going to work, closing up the bar, heading next door till 7-8am for drinks then heading home, my buddy (the bar
manager) wanted to continue the party, but The Lodge was closing for the 4-5 hours they did every day before opening for lunch. I had zero idea where
to go, but he had a smirk on his face and said "I know a place"...
At this point, I'm more than a little buzzed because we were allowed to drink while bartending and then I drank for 2-3 hours after at the lodge. We
got into a cab, my buddy told the cab driver an address off Milwaukee ave & I've sense forgotten the other cross street. We were dropped off at an
intersection, it was beginning to get light out, people were out and about, but as I followed my friend I noticed we were walking up to what looked
like an abandoned strip mall. He walked up to a door, the outside had no markings, not numbers on the building, nothing... For a second I thought I
was going to get jumped or something. It was very strange, something I had never experienced before. He knocked three times. Within a minute a lady
came to the door, she was likely in her late 40's, early 50's, she had attitude to her, and said "can i help you?". My buddy then replied with, "we
would like to come in for a few rounds..." she then stated, "do you have your key?"... At this point I'm thinking to myself "key? what? I'm too drunk
for this".... He then says "I don't have a key yet, my application is in with you guys now" I guess you need two members of the "Key Club" to vouch
for you so you can become a member, I guess his application was being processed. After a few minutes she returns and allows us to enter.
Upon entering I'm walking into a bar or at least that's what it looks like. There is a big bar, with a fish tank in the back drop of the bar, the
older lady was the bartender. They had one pool table, with video poker machines in the corner. They had a few couches with a stripper poll and there
were a handful of "interesting" characters in the bar, with one passed out on the couch. As you can probably imagine I was quite uncomfortable, but I
think the alcohol I already had in my system was helping my nerves. My initial thought upon entering was "sh*t, this looks like some underground mob
hangout"... Well, my initial thought wasn't too far from the truth...
I guess the city of Chicago has these "Key Clubs" located all around the city in what looks like abandoned buildings, so they get zero attention and
they hide right out in the open. The video poker machines was the dead give away that there was some mob interests in the location I was at, because
the mob has had a big video poker business here in Chicago for a long time now. After we had our 3-4 beers and left, I asked my friend "what the hell
was that?".. He explained that it was a secret key club and that it runs 24/7 and is utilized by industry types, mob members, corrupt cops and
politicians... I was shocked about all of this. In 2005, really??? This seems like a thing of the 1920's not now...
Anyways, I never went back again, I eventually left the bar life and cut ties with that friend, I have no clue what he is up to today, I feel like
that chapter has been closed and I won't reopen it. What's strange is that I sometimes try to run Google searches about these key clubs in Chicago,
but I can never find anything, I guess they do a good job keeping it "hush hush"...
I'm curious if anyone from the Chicago area (either lives here now or has in the past) has ever heard or been to one of the Key Clubs? Also, I'm
curious if people from other cities have similar private clubs like this? And if so, what are your experiences, if anything, with those clubs?
Take care ATS!
edit on 14-12-2013 by jhn7537 because: (no reason given)