Have you ever ended up somewhere totally unexpected and out of your comfort zone, but then it turns out to be the greatest experience of your young, impressionable life? For me, that somewhere was East Room in Logan Square on Soft Leather night, which is a monthly pansexual “dress to sweat” (their words, not mine, though I wish I could take credit for it) dance party of sorts. Going to the event was unintentional; seeing a guy being walked up to the bar on a leash was just a bonus.
All the photos in this post are from the Soft Leather Facebook page. Click it. Like it. Meet me there next month. You won’t regret it.
The night started innocently enough: A friend’s Saturday night going-away party – more like a bar crawl, if we’re being honest – at some fine PBR-laden establishments. I was dressed in standard six-months-pregnant gal attire, meaning I rocked Old Navy maternity head to toe, save for some fake leather pants I thought would be hip enough for the Logan Square crew and, fittingly enough, ended up being suitable for an event called Soft Leather.
So, OK. Back to the good stuff. East Room. I’ve got to admit, I was skeptical of this place at first, especially considering the directions included turning down a dark side street at the restaurant-turned-tattoo-shop, where a guy with a skull and crossbones tattooed on his forehead will check IDs under a red lightbulb. But when it came down to it, I much preferred checking out whatever lurked behind East Room’s door than standing in the miles-long line at Slippery Slope (fun fact: you can see SS’s one-in-one-out action from inside East Room and feel really good about your decision).
Upon passing beneath the red light and entering East Room, we walked upstairs and were immediately confronted with a way chill haunted house vibe and an empty dance floor calling out our names. The back hallway and bathrooms were outfitted with more red lights, which made it nice and creepy in the best way possible. I Snapchatted at least five photos in the bathroom mirror, obviously.
The scantily-clad DJs were spinning these tracks that none of us knew and there was this jumpy animated video projected on the wall, and the whole thing was just pure gold. I was out of my mind with happiness, and the night was still young.
Naturally, we took over the dance floor. So did some girls wearing mesh dresses with nothing underneath. A DANCE-OFF! It was like Step Up, but with fewer clothes.
I noticed men wearing waist-cinchers and a woman wrapped head to toe in duct tape, and didn’t think much of it … UNTIL EAST ROOM SUDDENLY GOT SUPER CROWDED. Before I knew it, the cash-only bar was four fabulously dressed people deep and the dance floor was bouncing with stomping platform shoes and jumping people wearing mesh outfits that had me second-guessing my denim jacket and maternity attire.
And such is Soft Leather, but it was NOT a mistake. It was the most fun. My only regret is leaving to go to The Owl and being bored because it could never compare to the things we’d just seen and the dance moves we’d just invented. We already can’t wait to go back … sans denim jacket and hopefully drinking something other than water.
What fetish-themed dance parties have YOU frequented lately? Accident or not … there’s no judgment here, friends.
Perhaps my first mistake was not showing up wearing head-to-toe SoulCycle gear? Photo via SoulCycle.
I’m sorry if that title is TMI, but I feel like I need to keep it real with you guys. Remember that time I listed all the parts of my body that hurt after my first Flywheel class, including my crotch? Well, that’s about how bad I hurt right after my first SoulCycle class. Like, I need to sit on a doughnut at work, which is what women do after they’ve just BIRTHED A HUMAN.
Chalk it up to being super out of shape (most likely, hence my recent signing up for ClassPass), those tiny bike seats being hard as rocks (really, though), or SoulCycle being a super kick-ass workout (not entirely convinced), but I’m pretty darn sore. And the place was pretty darn crowded – I’m not sure the fresh ranunculus in the ladies’ changing room make up for the fact that the studio is just not large enough to fit SoulCycle’s hype.
If you’re feeling brave, you can see my post-workout mirror selfie with these flowers, complete with smeared makeup and frizzy hair, on my Instagram.
I’ve been intrigued by SoulCycle ever since I heard about its tendency to make riders inexplicably cry mid-ride and release bursts of pent-up emotion they didn’t even know they had. Also, it’s a spinning class that’s done in CANDLELIGHT, which makes everybody’s spandex-clad bodies look ultra bangin’. Who’s not into some Zen shit every now and then, especially if the lighting’s right?
Knowing these things were possible – rushes of emotion, candlelight, general chillness – I didn’t expect to spend a majority of the ride out of the saddle in third position, simultaneously dance-spinning and draped across my handlebars, dying. I mean, I’ll be the first to admit that the song “Booty” is enough to make me chair dance during work, but it didn’t do the trick this time.
Unlike Flywheel and Full Psycle (my personal favorite), SoulCycle’s bikes aren’t equipped with monitors that give you any indication of the work you’re putting in. So, yeah, you may be doing push-ups and tap-backs and side-to-sides to the beat of “Booty,” but the lack of accountability and friendly competition is sorely missed. Camaraderie is the goal at SoulCycle, apparently. And I don’t know about you, but I go to a workout class to be all up in my own head, not worrying about the resistance level of my neighbor’s bike.
Also, I kind of had no idea what the instructor was saying most of the time, because the microphone feed in that room is THE WORST. Like, my cat chewed on my favorite headphones and the sound always goes in and out in one ear, and I’d rather listen to that than try and decipher SoulCycle spin commands.
Don’t get me wrong – the class, led by superhero-level instructor Anthony, was intense and still a pretty solid workout, but I can’t stress enough how disappointed I was with the SoulCycle facility – it was just so, so crowded. The spin room is large enough for 51 riders, which is fine and dandy until a full class is released, all sweaty and breathless, into a common area of 51 additional riders waiting for the next class while the spin room is cleaned. Imagine 102 sweaty, slippery bodies awkwardly brushing past each other. There are strange smells. There’s no place to sit down to take off those treacherous spin shoes. Some people actually stood IN THE BATHROOM STALLS to make room for other people to move around, which was only acknowledged by fleeting eye contact tinged with mutual sadness.
I’m sorry you had to stand next to a toilet while I wiped off my boob sweat, lady in pink workout pants. You’ll never see me ’round these parts again.
Imagine a full room of this. Also, DO NOT COME IN DIRTY CLOTHES, OK.
Have YOU tried SoulCycle yet, and did you think it lives up to the hype? Or would you, like me, rather spend your time strapped to bikes at Flywheel and Full Psycle? Eager to hear what you guys think!
When my dear friend Lindsey dragged me all the way out to industrial West Town IN HEELS, I hoped it was for good reason. Free flowers, she promised. Free flowers that I would totally LOVE, she promised.
(Back story: Lindsey and I met working for a local wedding planner, so we know enough about flowers to be simultaneously picky and greedy. And when she tells me a florist is good, I know enough to trust her.)
Spoiler alert: My mini bouquet was SO MUCH BETTER THAN I COULD HAVE IMAGINED. Just LOOK AT IT.
So when we arrived at the Flowers for Dreams HQ – a relatively unremarkable industrial, warehouse-style building amid other unremarkable industrial, warehouse-style buildings on Hubbard – I wondered if the trek in heels was worth it for a free mini bouquet.
And then I saw the workers, all friendly and tattooed and grooving to a live, in-house DJ set. The flowers, each individually wrapped in burlap squares and tied with raffia bows, were darling. Everything was so twee and perfect, it was like Pinterest came to life and exploded everywhere. In a GOOD way, though.
Naturally, Lindsey and I had a mini bouquet photoshoot, because that’s just the type of gals we are:
Flowers for Dreams is more than kick-ass (free) mini bouquets, though. It’s a full flower delivery service that delivers locally sourced bouquets, starting at just $35 each, ON BIKES. If that’s not enough to give you a bunch o’ warm-fuzzies, Flowers for Dreams donates 1/4 of its net profits to local charities – to date, they’ve raised nearly $58,000 for local causes.
Check out their site for deets about their monthly flower subscription service (so much cooler than Birchbox, really), special event florals, and, yeah, those biker-delivered bouquets.
Follow Flowers for Dreams on social media (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter) to find out when their next FREE FLOWER FRIDAY will be held. You are going to want to journey out to West Town for this, trust me.