By Wendy Wollenberg Posted June 23, 2008, 9:15 AM EDT
Ted Widen, publisher of Chicago Scene magazine and Chicago-Scene.com, which both report on the city's restaurants, clubs, and parties, threw a bash befitting his publications' name Wednesday night. Held at Zed451, the party took over the entire space—all 18,000 square feet of it—and it still wasn't big enough. Guests started showing up to the event, which started at 9 p.m., at around 8:30, when diners were still finishing up their meals inside the South American-style restaurant. Lines then quickly formed on either side of the building behind velvet ropes and pooled in the middle. The security staff were clearly overwhelmed, prompting one out-of-uniform police officer to exclaim, “What's the use of having cops here?” A mini traffic jam snarled the already-hectic Clark Street as cabs and limos jockeyed for space in front of the restaurant.
Widen himself tried to facilitate the check-in process to little avail. He repeatedly came outside to usher people in, only to have to return to gather another group. Many braved the lines until well after the party's starting time, shuffling their feet along to hits of the '90s (perhaps to call to mind Chicago Scene's nascency), such as “Dreamlover” by Mariah Carey and “Lovefool” by the Cardigans.
Those who finally gained entrance into Zed451 got to explore the huge space, which includes two levels and a rooftop deck. Complimentary cocktails mixed with Jack Daniel's, Finlandia vodka, and Herradura tequila (the event's alcohol sponsors) made the rounds. DJ Jernell Geronimo spun club mixes from his perch, providing background music for body-painted dancers, who made their way throughout the rooms. A 90-minute set from popular U2 tribute band Elevation capped the evening.
Widen expected more than 1,000 guests, including media, restaurant and club owners, and other industry insiders, in addition to Chicago Scene readers. (The event received publicity through the Web site and magazine's email list.) Proceeds from the $20 ticket price benefited Imerman Angels, a cancer support group.