Scarlet Bar – Chicago and Beyond

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After the Chicago Fire of 1871, the city was reborn and rebuilt, bigger and better than ever before.

Similarly, after the fire at Scarlet bar in 2009, the bar was rebuilt and it was born anew.

General manager Robbie Baldwin remembers, “I was here helping with the new layout and the rebuilding and ended up just staying on as a full time employee and became General Manager.”

Year after year Scarlet places high on various top lists; Best gay bar in Chicago, One of the top 100 bars in Chicago,  Best in Boystown, and even the Best Gay Club for Straight Folks! It’s almost as if after the fire, new energy was brought to the space.

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It was in 2010 that Robbie crossed paths with designer Traver Rains, formerly of  the outrageously successful Heatherette  and currently of  T Rains designs. “I walked into Spin one night and saw him sitting at the bar and introduced myself to him, ” remembers Baldwin. “We started chatting, he was in town scouting a location for an upcoming fashion show.  We exchanged phone numbers and a few weeks later he called and said he wanted to come by Scarlet with then Chelsea Lately’s “Staff Homosexual” Guy Branum for a night of music, laughs and a great party to benefit the Trevor project. And they did!  It was great fun!” (Photo at Scarlet of Johnny Weir and Traver Rains)

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These days Traver is  frequent  fixture in Boystown, always hanging out at Scarlet and Taverna 750 when he is in town. “We’re kind of like family now, ”  says Robbie. “He has designed shirts and hoodies for Scarlet but he really focuses his time on philanthropy and his photography.”

Another  Scarlet regular is model/actor Austin Armacost, who first came into the public eye by way of The A List -New York, reality show.  He dated designer Marc Jacobs for a short time.”After visiting Chicago for more than ten years, I find SCARLET to be the best place to just let loose!” says Austin.

Fun crowd, fun staff, they are not cunty like some of the bars! I have celebrated my last three birthdays at SCARLET and I will be there on March 27th! I love the team there. I can dance on a speaker in my underwear and everybody is just like that’s SCARLET!

You never know who you might see there. Brad Goreski, Jaslene Gonzalez, Candis Cayne…

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Originators of The First Ward Ball, Frat Night, Liquid Brunch, Red Cup Party and Dance-off with Your Pants off, Scarlet strives to keep things fresh. “The gay community is constantly changing and evolving and you have to keep offering them something different to keep them interested. So we are always doing different themes. People know when they come here they can expect a crazy, fun, unique and memorable experience!”
Scarlet prides themselves on their list of DJ’s and their sound.


The Examiner once said, “If you’re a gay or female, chances are a drink doesn’t feel complete without dancing. And if it’s been a rough week, that preference becomes a legitimate need. If your preferences run to techno or rap, well, you can head to just about any club in the city. But if you’re looking for a DJ who will mix infectious top 40’s so seamlessly you won’t experience one of those annoying I’m-going-to-bob-my-head-because-I-have-no-idea-what-this-song-is lulls, then head to Scarlet.”

The Scarlet/Red Bull  stage is always packed for Chicago PrideFest and Market Days. “Our internal motto at Scarlet is “We sell FUN” and that’s exactly what we try and do when we have our acts at these bigger events. The Djs will be playing great music you want to dance to, the Scarlet boys will be jumping around on stage and Trannika Rex, as always will be screaming into the mic and MC’ing. It’s over the top and it’s ridiculous!”  says Robbie.


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Scarlet throws numerous off site large scale events and the manage a team of Djs and talent. They have done several events with Macy’s and  last year they were invited to Milwaukee PrideFest for a 2 hour DJ set and brought along Traver Rains who did a fashion show of his clothes. This year Scarlet will be doing 6 hours at Milwaukee Pridefest  with DJs, dancing boys and the Trannika Rex Show plus ….who knows …maybe a surprise guest? At press time, contracts were still being negotiated. Don’t Miss Scarlet bar and friends Friday June 6th in MKE.

“It’s all very exciting!” exclaimed Robbie. “This year we are returning to Six Flags Great America OUT IN THE PARK private night and we have been invited to the St Louis Six Flags for their very first OUT IN THE PARK. Two of our DJ’s  will also be playing the HEATWAVE  LGBT charity event at Key Lime Cove in the Fall AND possibly we might be doing something in San Francisco later this year,” tells Robbie.

We have really worked hard to develop a brand and we enjoy taking the brand on the road into other markets. One day it would be great to have several Scarlet bars in several cities.”

 Scarlet Bar Chicago

3320 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60657  773-348-1053   FACEBOOK

(773) 348-1053