Speakeasy magic bar is north side’s best kept secret


CHICAGO – If you’re looking to make your next night out on the town extra magical, then the Chicago Magic Lounge is the place for you.

It’s a speakeasy-style theater that’s hidden behind a fake laundromat and since it reopened its doors in 2021 it’s been quietly attracting a following thanks to visitors documenting their experiences on TikTok.

“The nature of our theater is to bring back an old lost style of magic known as Chicago-style magic and that can be done in several different rooms, ” said co-owner and CEO, Joey Cranford. “We have a performance bar, where there’s a bar magician working at 5 o’clock at night all the way until we close… We have another secret entrance in the theater which allows ticketed patrons to come through and sit anywhere in our 120 seat cabaret, and there’s Chicago style magic coming around to the tables, there’s also stage magic, and then we have a back room called the 654 Club for what the future of close up magic is, which is a nice intimate setting of 40 people watching a magician.”

According to Cranford, Chicago-style magic is all about drinking and watching magic. He said the magic showed up in bars and restaurants in the 1920s as a way to fill the time between drinking or eating. Cranford says the Chicago Magic Lounge stays true to the original vision of Chicago style magic and adds it can now be found around the world.

“It’s a chance for adults to escape. Everybody says, but my kids love magic, and I say of course they do, they’re children, but we want you to love magic,” said Cranford. “We want you to find magic in your life and so we really encourage people to make this a night out. Make it a date night. Make it a special event. Celebrate your birthday, or your anniversary. It’s a chance to escape not only reality, but from the kids at home.”

From the moment you walk in, you know you are in for a magical time because the entire theater is hidden behind what looks to be a laundromat, drying clothes and all.

“The laundromat is a way to get people out of their comfort zone and get them ready for a surprising moment at any turn and let them know that we’re not messing around.” said Cranford.

During the pandemic Cranford said someone shot video of their laundromat entrance and shared it on TikTok where it went viral.

“I think we experienced about 2.1 million likes on that one video, and with views it was over 13 million views which was just incredible.” said Cranford. “We’re here for the Chicago public and that’s more than our entire Chicago metropolitan area that’s here to see it.”

When the theater reopened after the pandemic, Cranford said they changed their policy to let people take video of their laundromat entrance, so patrons can share it with their friends and or family; and since then, they’ve had several videos go viral which have spurred ticket sales.

Chicago Magic Lounge opens at 5 p.m. every day of the week with the first show starting at 7 p.m. except on Fridays and Saturdays. They have a total of nine shows weekly and ticket prices vary depending on the day, so go to their website for more information.

The Chicago Magic Lounge is located at 5050 North Clark St. in Chicago and Cranford says, “It’s really for magic lovers or for people who’ve never seen live magic or didn’t know what it looked like today, but it’s just a great escape.”

You can see more on the Chicago Magic Lounge in the video above.

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