LOGAN SQUARE — A Logan Square bar best known for its cocktails and pizza potstickers is also trying to establish itself as a destination for upbeat, edgy burlesque shows drawing lively crowds.
Every month, Way Out, 3213 W. Armitage Ave., hosts Way Out Wednesday, a free burlesque show featuring local performers and contortionists with a “rock n’ roll style,” such as Helena Handbasket, Degrassi Knoll and Tila Von Twirl. The next show is set for 8:30-10:30 p.m. Wednesday.
The show was founded by Lilly Rascal, a Logan Square resident and burlesque performer with years of experience producing shows in Chicago and other cities.
Way Out opened in 2021, taking over seafood restaurant Sink|Swim’s former spot. Rascal approached the bar’s owners about a year ago about hosting a regular burlesque show as a way to support local performers.
Co-owner Nathan Case-McDonald was immediately on board and the partnership took off from there, Rascal said.
“They have this really cool runway style with booths on one side and high-top seating on the other,” Rascal said. “Most shows are on stages and the audience is sitting venue-style. I wanted to create something that was more in your face.”
At Way Out Wednesday, burlesque performers dance around patrons as they sip their drinks from barstools and booths. The four-act show is hosted by Rascal and another performer named Dr. Rocktagon.
Every show is different. Rascal brings on new performers each month, a mix of established and up-and-coming talent each with their own flair.
“It’s not Dita Von Teese classic burlesque,” Rascal said. “I look for performers that have a rock edge, a funk edge, different kinds of performances that’s outside of the walk and strip. I look for people who can interact with the audience … and have an amazing stage presence.”
So far, the show has been a hit among bar patrons and locals looking for entertainment on the Northwest Side, Rascal said.
“It’s a fun date night, it’s a fun friend hang, it’s just fun entertainment — just like going to a rock show or any other kind of show,” she said.
Burlesque and drag shows are common in North Side neighborhoods like Northalsted, formerly known as Boystown, and Andersonville. But a crop of shows has popped up in the Logan Square and Humboldt Park area in recent years. In addition to Way Out Wednesday, there’s Sauced & Saucy at Pizza Lobo and Notes On Masculinity at the California Clipper.
Rascal performed at a burlesque show for Riot Fest’s after party this year; she’s also done shows at Simone’s, The Newport Theater and The Drifter.
Now, she’s pouring her energy into making Way Out Wednesday a Logan Square staple.
“I just want this show to keep growing and I want this audience to keep growing and I want to meet new performers and give them money,” she said. “That I can hand over a nice paycheck to a drag performer or a burlesque performer for their art is a great feeling.”