Sasha Geffen interviews Callin Fortis about the closing of Neo.
When Callin Fortis took over Neo in 1982, Lincoln Park had no Gaps, no pet boutiques, and no day cares. It was a nightlife hub, with cheap rents and 4 AM bars and 24-hour diners—”like New York,” says Fortis. His own nightclub, one of the last of its generation in the area, is now sandwiched between a preschool and an Urban Outfitters in an alley on Clark Street, just south of Fullerton Avenue, less than a mile west of the Lincoln Park Zoo. Neo had been open for just two years when Fortis moved in, and at the end of July, it will close its doors after 36 years in operation. The preschool that occupies the storefront of the same building will move into the space that has served as a late-night hangout for Chicago’s misfits since 1979. “The neighborhood has changed dramatically,” says Fortis over the phone from Miami, where he now lives. “Lincoln Park was still residential, but it was much hipper than it is now. It was still filled with art and cool stuff. Now, it’s not. Urban Outfitters is still there. That’s probably the coolest thing there is.”
Fortis and the owner of the building where Neo is housed, John Crombie, recently failed to come to an agreement on a new lease for the space, forcing the club to relocate. Currently, no new venue has been pinned down, although Fortis says he’s had offers come in from across the city, and that he’s eyeing a space in Wicker Park.
(click here to continue reading After 36 years, Neo leaves a changing Lincoln Park | Bleader | Chicago Reader.)
I never claimed Neo as one of my spots, but I have been inside a few times, and always enjoyed myself.