UPTOWN — Le Nocturne opened in August 2019, bringing world class DJ’s and house music to the Uptown entertainment district.
As it approaches its first anniversary and struggles through the coronavirus pandemic, the night club is asking neighbors for a birthday gift: donations to help them make it through the year.
“Unfortunately this pandemic has gone on longer than anyone had expected and we now find ourselves in dire need,” Le Nocturne’s management wrote on GoFundMe. “We humbly ask for your further support in the form of donations … to see us through to the day we can reopen.”
Le Nocturne, 4810 N. Broadway, is the creation of François Crokaert, a Paris-born DJ who grew up among night club culture. His dream was to open a European-style night club in America, but without the pretentious, exclusive nature of modern club culture.
That dream culminated in Le Nocturne, where Crokaert and his team pay homage to Chicago-bred house music and feature world renowned DJ’s. Le Nocturne has also hosted a series of LGBTQ-friendly events and fundraisers, including the monthly dance party known as Grizzly.
Business had been going well at the night club until the coronavirus pandemic hit, general manager Miguel Castro said. The club closed in March and has yet to reopen.
Chicago’s live entertainment venues and night life industry has been one of the hardest hit sectors of the local economy during the pandemic.
Even when the city rolled back business restrictions in July to allow such venues to open with limited capacity, almost the entire industry has remained closed, saying it is not financially feasible or logistically possible to safely open right now.
With no revenue coming in, Le Nocturne needs help paying the bills, Castro said. The club launched its fundraiser with a goal of $25,000. That would get the business through the year, though any amount raised will be helpful, he said.
“There’s an amount we need to make it through each month, and that’s where we’re at right now,” Castro said. “We’re going to need a little help to pay the bills.”
Despite its doors being closed, the party has not stopped at Le Nocturne.
The club has launched “House Talk,” its series of livestreamed DJ sets. The live streams had been in the works before the pandemic, as Castro and Crokaert wanted to produce their version of the popular YouTube live DJ series Boiler Room.
The pandemic made it the perfect time to get the streaming idea off the ground. For the sets, the DJ’s perform from Le Nocturne’s stage, with its light show surrounding them. The sets are then broadcast on Facebook. The performances have been viewed over 12,000 times, Castro said.
The live streams help as a creative outlet and a marketing effort for the club, but they have not been able to financially sustain the club during the closure, Castro said.
“We wanted to add some normalcy to things,” he said about starting the live stream production. “It gave us some notoriety. It just hasn’t transitioned in a way to sustain us yet.”
Without many other avenues to turn to, Le Nocturne will re-open for a series of shows beginning in August.
On Aug. 8, the club will begin a residency with legendary house artist Paul Johnson. The event will be limited to 50 people, and tickets will be sold to groups of two to six people. Johnson is also booked to play Le Noctune on Sept. 12 and Oct. 10. (For more information on the shows, click here.)
The show will also be streamed, and the club is considering selling tickets to the digital event as well, Castro said. It will be an experiment, since it isn’t yet clear the 300-capacity club could turn a profit with fewer than 100 people.
The club is hoping the upcoming events are a success and provide neighbors with a means of escape during a difficult time.
And Le Nocturne’s management is hoping the club is around for many years to come, so it can continue to provide its unique and inviting space for Uptown residents.
“We’ve been overwhelmed by the love we’re received so far,” Castro said. “It’s been great to see the community come together.”
To donate to the Le Nocturne fundraiser, click here.
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