13 September 2002

So, I'm walking home, just like I always do, having taken off work early so I can go home and clean before the Friteenth people get here, and as I'm walking past the Uptown Theatre, the door is open and I can see lights and marble floor and I just freeze and peer inside. The caretaker, David, says hello, and recognises me from the morning when the CNN remote crew were there and he invited me inside to look around!

Lemme explain. The Uptown on Broadway in Chicago has been closed down and boarded up since 1981. I grew up 4 blocks from the Uptown, and I've never been inside. The closest I've come to ever being inside is the calendar I bought last year, with black and white photos of the theatre. Although, I found out today, I could have seen the inside if I'd seen Soul Survivors, which was shot there. Dammit. I remember walking past and asking the crew what was shooting that day, and if I'd known I was that close to Elisa Dushku...

Anyway. Topic.

Oh my God! It's frelling amazing in there! It's the largest and most ornate theatre Balaban and Katz ever built. It opened in 1925, and stayed open until 1960s, when they closed it down as a theatre theatre, and had music performances there off and on until they shut it down for good in '81. It can seat almost 5000 people. It's got a lobby that's six stories high, and used to have Austrian crystal chandeliers everywhere. There isn't an inch of this place that isn't jaw-hit-floor stunning. I spent almost 45 minutes wandering around, getting to see nooks and crannies. I didn't go up or downstairs, though--just saw the main lobbies and floor, and saw where the old Nursery was. The caretaker was the nicest guy alive. He knows a TON about the building and its history, and when he was a kid, the Uptown was his local moviehouse. I got his card and cell number, and am going to beg and plead and beg to see if I can get a longer tour when my Judy is here next week. He is just the nicest, coolest guy. Have I mentioned that? So the best early birthday pressie ever!

Wow. I just... I'm bounce off walls. For the longest time, I've been dying to see inside this place! Firstly, because I wanted to write a Buffyverse story set in the late 1980s, with a vamp nest in the theatre. Secondly, because I've seen it from the outside most of my life, and after going to the Chicago Theatre for the first time this year, and seeing how gorgeous it was, it broke my heart to know that the Uptown, which is larger and grander, has been allowed to decompose for 20 years because the company that had it refused to refurbish it.

Wow. I'm all, just... Wow.

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