Chicago 1968: The Trip

Catering to tourists and shoppers during the day, The Trip restaurant and cabaret at 27 E. Ohio St. transformed into a three-story gay hotspot after dinner hours and a private club on Sundays.

On one Sunday in January of 1968, a plainclothes officer gained entry into The Trip using a fraudulent membership card and witnessed same-sex dancing. Police raided the club and arrested 13 patrons for “public indecency” and “soliciting prostitution.” Although the charges were eventually dropped, Mattachine Midwest saw this raid as another example of unwarranted police harassment.

TRIP Menu_Covercopy

Police raided The Trip again in May. While few arrests were made, the liquor authorities revoked The Trip’s liquor license—a common practice that served as the death knell for most bars. If The Trip’s owners appealed the revoking of the liquor license, it would take months and the bar would have to remain closed until matters were sorted out. Despite its closure as a bar, The Trip hosted numerous events, most notably monthly Mattachine Midwest meetings and the 1968 NACHO conference.

While a bar had never before challenged a revoking of a liquor license, The Trip’s owners decided to appeal the revoking. They hired attorney Elmer Gertz to bring the case against the License Appeal Commission of Chicago. The case was eventually brought to the Illinois Supreme Court, where The Trip was awarded a complete reversal. The Trip reopened as a bar to much acclaim and remain a vital part of Chicago’s gay community for several years.