Chicago Magazine Mixes Singles and Sponsors

Celebrating its "Singles" issue, Chicago magazine's annual Summer Lovin' party had sponsors competing with eligible singles for attention.

By Wendy Wollenberg June 25, 2008, 4:54 PM EDT

The stage behind the Museum of Contemporary Art

Photo: Bridget Montgomery

On Friday night, Chicago magazine and Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s auxiliary board once again teamed up to host a party for the publication’s annual “Singles” issue that also benefited the hospital’s prostate-cancer gene therapy program. Held at the Museum of Contemporary Art, the event, dubbed “Summer Lovin',” attracted some 800 young professionals for signature cocktails, food from 15 Chicago restaurants, and sponsor-integrated experiences (think V.I.P. lounges and photo booths).

Chicago magazine is great to work with, because they understand it’s a partnership,” said Geoff Crawley, one of the event's three co-chairs from the hospital's auxiliary board. “We bring in each of the sponsors together.” This was the eighth annual Summer Lovin’ event, and the fifth time the board has worked with the magazine on the party.

Back in October, the auxiliary board began working with Chicago’s marketing team to plan the event around the publication's “Singles” issue, an annual list featuring the city's 20 most eligible men and women. (This year’s roundup includes former Project Runway contestant Steven Rosengard, jewelry designer Kristin Amato, and NBC5 meteorologist Ginger Zee.) The committee kicked into high gear around January, bringing in sponsors and raising funds. The group is committed to generating at least $100,000 for the hospital's research project over two years, with last year's event raising $50,000. As Crawley puts it, “If our partying can help save lives, then it’s all worth the work.”

The event took over the entire main floor and outdoor terrace and lawn of the museum, giving sponsors plenty of room to make their presence known. In the main room, Hennessy cognac set up an ice luge bar with models in evening gowns drawing attention to the display, while Virgin Atlantic created a lounge atmosphere with two bars and projection screens bearing the airline's logo. Seven branded bars from the likes of AM energy drinks, Rubi Rey rum, and Goose Island beer offered a full roster of cocktails. Chicago restaurant chain Burrito Beach set up a make-your-own burrito buffet (which also provided food for the staff at the end of the night). Additional food stations included a chocolate fondue fountain from Melting Pot, hand-rolled pizza from Pompei, a barbecue setup from Fogo de Chao, and a dessert table from Whole Foods.

Down on the museum’s sprawling lawn, Evite set up an old-school photo booth, where a line quickly formed while guests awaited their color or black-and-white photo strips. Nearby was the Virgin Atlantic V.I.P. area, complete with a bar, lounge-style seating, velvet ropes, and bouncers. “[Virgin] really wanted to up the experience,” said Crawley. Guests who had paid the extra $20 for the V.I.P. ticket received a wristband that granted them access to the lounge, plus express entrance to the two Summer Lovin’ after-parties that took place at Manor and RiNo

DJ White Shadow spun well-known dance music from the 1970s through the present throughout the night. “He wanted to have his gear on a platform so he could see people dancing and the energy of the crowd,” Crawley said. Before the evening’s presentation, 10-piece rock band Midwest Hype played an opening set, alerting guests to gather around the outdoor stage. After a short presentation about the evening's fund-raising purpose, Metromix's Jackie Tranchida introduced the mag's singles while the crowd showed their appreciation through hoots and whistles.

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