Marie’s Riptide Lounge

Years and years after my first visit there, introduced to me by my longtime friend Fergus, back then living in Chicago not too long after we first met, and now years later reconnecting friends again in the Bay Area, not missing a beat, Chicago came up today during lunch at the office. We talked about Marie’s Riptide Lounge.

If you’ve never been there, I feel bad for you. It’s gone the way of the dodo bird, but lived an exuberant life while it was alive.

Marie’s Riptide Lounge, where all the good things that happened tended to happen after 2 AM. Walking through the doors of the Riptide inevitably would transport you to Christmastime no matter what time of the year it was. As Fergus would say, all bets are off when you walk into The Riptide.

I loved that about the Riptide. The possibilities of how the night would turn into morning were endless at the Riptide. Located on Armitage just west of the expressway, in quaint Bucktown where (between that neighborhood and in Wicker Park) I would call home for over eleven years. Though that neighborhood was once known for being gang-infested with its share of drugs, violence and prostitution, by the time I moved to the area, I saw early signs of gentrification. And my memories of my time there are almost Rockwellesque filled with Christmas lights adorning the residences on the streets and Christmas music in the foggy, misty air.

Marie was in her 80’s when I met her. She would drink with the rest of us, oftentimes under the table, if my memory serves me, gin or vodka her spirit of choice. When my youngest brother moved in with me, we both went to celebrate her 90th birthday, pictures of us with our friends found its way into the centerfold for the Chicago magazine Barfly, the occasion a central moment to that weekend. That was a long time ago, back in September 2000.

For ten years thereafter, I would still frequent the place, making sure anyone that visited me visited it.

Marie was frail by then, but she still had the energy of a hundred men and women. Her friendly staff was filled by women, the youngest a spry and spirited sixty-year-old. I loved this place and I loved the people that worked there.

Marie has passed on; and soon after, so did The Riptide.

When I think of my favourite places I’ve ever been in any place all over the world, I always think of The Riptide, where all bets are off but one thing you could bet on, was a good time. You only had to play the jukebox to get a sample.

Now all we have are the memories.


Go Adventure. Go Travel. Go Live.

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