The beats are back at Hydrate; vaccine cards required

Fri. May 21, 2021 4:53 PM by Ross Forman

the beats are back at hydrate nightclub in ‘boystown’

photo credit // provided

‘This will be a very exciting weekend for many.’

The beats are back. The boys, too. Heck, Hydrate Nightclub is now back operating as if it was, oh, January or February 2020.

There will be dancing into the wee hours of the morning this weekend at the popular Lakeview club, with its circuit vibe. The tables that filled the dance floor when the club was open during the COVID-19 pandemic are gone. Masks also are gone.

But a vaccination card is required to enter.

Hydrate is back!

“It has been almost 15 months since Hydrate closed its dance floor and we have spent a lot of time thinking about when and even if we would be able to return to the work we loved at Hydrate before the pandemic began,” said Hydrate owner Mark Liberson. “I feel extremely thankful that the scientific community was able to build upon research already underway to expedite the development of the vaccine that is allowing us to return much sooner than otherwise (thought). But, I'm also extremely worried that getting vaccinated has been so politicized, misrepresented and misunderstood, that this may result in our nation failing to get to the level of vaccination and protection needed to stop the continued spread, leaving us vulnerable to new mutations, and a new strain of this virus emerging that will force us all to shut down, again. 

“Each new infection is a new opportunity for the virus to mutate, so for our lives to return to normal and stay that way, we need to stop this virus from continuing to spread. By offering people who are vaccinated the opportunity to return to normalcy, to enjoy returning to close contact and connections with others, we are hoping that it will provide motivation for those who have not yet gotten vaccinated to do so. People need to get vaccinated, not only to protect themselves, but also to protect each other and to protect our return to the lives that we once knew. 

“I think that we should reward those who have gotten vaccinated by letting them step through our doors and leave COVID behind them while they are with us. I'm hopeful that more businesses will become open only to vaccinated individuals and that if more of the activities that people want to return to require vaccination, that collectively we can get the vaccine stragglers to join us and do their part to protect our futures.”

Hydrate has a loaded long weekend schedule, with longer than normal hours, and plenty of must-see events and DJs.

** Friday will feature music videos and the handiwork of VJ George G.

** Saturday kicks off with Drag Licious, then the sounds of Janky for Social House, with his set starting at 11 p.m.

** Sunday is ... Sunday Funday, of course. And Hydrate is Northalsted's official after-brunch party.

** Monday features Lipstick and Mascara, hosted by Mz. Ruff 'n Stuff and the beats from DJ Laura B.

   Liberson is a mix of excitement and stress-filled for the weekend and Hydrate's return to normalcy.

   “I know this is going to be a learning process – for our team and the public,” he said. “We anticipate some people will not be happy being denied entry if they do not have a copy or picture of their vaccine card with them, or if they are not fully vaccinated (two weeks after their final dosage), but we are ready for this and determined to return Hydrate back to where we do not have to operate under all the rules that were created to try to protect people in our city from the virus. 

“We have printed cards to distribute to those who have not yet been vaccinated that encourage them to join us and have three QR codes, one for each available vaccine, that they can use to schedule their vaccine and then be able to join us and also return back to their lives without restrictions soon

“Most of all, I feel thankful. We have a great team and I am excited that our management team is still together, that so many of our staff have returned. I'm excited that our team invested themselves in discovering new talented members of our community who have now joined our cast of entertainers, dancers and DJs. I believe 2021 is going to be a great year. I'm so looking forward to enjoying our new shows and getting back on the dance floor at Hydrate without any restrictions for the first time in over a year.”

The City of Chicago has given Hydrate and all other similar establishments' direction on how to re-open fully – and the club has full intention of following.

“It is unfortunate that politics has undone the possibility of creating a 'vaccine passport' that would be able to make (the re-opening) easier, but that won't stop us from succeeding in this effort,” Liberson said. “The greatest disappointment is the discussion of people buying vaccine cards, spending money to photo-shop cards, etc., which is ridiculous. I cannot understand why someone would waste both time and money to avoid a free vaccine that has been given to millions of people around the world and has been proven safe and effective against COVID-19.”

Liberson said the anticipation for this weekend is sky-high – among staff and Chicago residents. Everyone wants a packed Hydrate, with beats blaring and drinks served.

“This will be a very exciting weekend for many,” Liberson said. “The staff is excited to no longer have to be telling people to stay seated, put on their masks, and all of the other rules we have been enforcing since reopening. I think both the staff and guests this weekend will be breathing a sigh of relief being able to return back to the lives they had been enjoying before the pandemic and see a glimpse of the future we are moving toward.

“Reopening is extremely important as we have been losing money every month since the pandemic began. This has left us taking on a large amount of debt, and have been losing money every month, even while we have resumed business with the restrictions and occupancies allowed under the different phases because the business is not structured to be profitable as a cocktail lounge. By reopening now we will begin to return back to normal, hopefully resume being a profitable operation, and begin to pay off the debt we accumulated during the last 15 months.”

Liberson confirmed that anyone who comes to Hydrate without a vaccine card will not be admitted. And that's those who have received both of the needed vaccine – and the second shot had to have been two weeks ago or more.

A copy of your vaccine card, or a picture of it on your phone, will be accepted.

“I'm hoping that it will be a weekend of great energy and people getting used to feeling comfortable together again,” Liberson said. “We decided to go vaccine-only, even if not everyone will be prepared or have their proof of vaccine with them, because we know that eventually we will need to begin (that) path forward, and we might as well get the adjustment period out of the way early so that by the start of June everyone will understand the rules and be ready to move forward.

In addition, at the mixology-focused cocktail venue Elixir Lounge, similar restrictions will apply, as it too will only admit patrons who have been vaccinated.

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