It was very late by the time I got to Chicago. I had made tentative dinner plans with some local friends, but when the wheels hit the tarmac at O’Hare, it was clear that dinner was not going to be an option.
My buddy B, who I had been staying with in LA the month before was out in the Midwest. He was a 4-hour drive away from Chicago, but it was Halloween, and I managed to convince him that he would have more fun spending it in Chicago with me than stuck out in the fringes of flyover.
I had previously stayed at the James during a friend’s disastrously long bachelor party weekend, and the rates were shockingly low, so I booked a room with two beds.
When I got to the room, B was already working on a bottle of tequila. He poured us both large glasses, and I started catching up while showering and getting ready. Once we were all put together, we grabbed some road sodas and snagged a cab.
I still had nothing but my Colombia clothes, so I was wearing jeans, driving shoes a dress shirt and a sport coat. It was probably 20 degrees in Chicago.
One of B’s friends was at a private party Paul Oakenfeld was spinning at, so we swung by there first.
Like I said, it was Halloween. I didn’t even have clothes that would keep me from freezing to death, so it goes without saying that I didn’t have a costume. When people asked what my costume was, I told them I was dressed as a guy who got stranded by Hurricane Sandy. It was the truth.
Before I landed, B had been pushing the Martin Solveig show at Paris Club. We have accidentally become sort of Martin Solveig groupies. We saw him at a party in St. Tropez over the summer, then when I was out in L.A. one night, we went to a club and he happened to be playing a show there. Now we were in Chicago and he was playing again, so it seemed like the thing to do.
The problem is, I hate being tied to specific plans during the evening, and shelling out $80 to see a dude spin seemed a little bit ridiculous. As the first party started to thin out, B talked me into going to Paris Club and seeing if they’d cut us a deal.
We did them one better. When we got to the door, I walked past all the security/bouncers without looking at them, trying to give the impression I’d already been in. It worked, I went through the door, upstairs and into the bar without anyone questioning me. No tickets needed.
B was not so lucky. He got snagged by a dude wanting to see his ticket. He tossed him a little baksheesh and all was well.
I met B at the main bar, and we found his friend R. B had met R at E’s Hamptons house during the summer. She was a very nice girl and went with the flow despite not knowing me at all, and us being more than a little inebriated.
We stayed at Paris until Solveig finished and the place shut down, then R suggested we go to Prive. Things got even hazier there, and B got separated from us.
I woke up at R’s place really early in the morning, found a cab, and got back to The James, where I found B still awake, looking worse for the wear from the evening.
We laughed about our newfound groupie status, then I drew up a quick list and went over to Saks to buy a new winter wardrobe both because it was freezing, and because flip flops and polo shirts wouldn’t be very office appropriate while working on the campaign.
With my new gear purchased and jammed into a newly acquired suitcase, I left everything in the room and went to grab lunch with B.
He had the rental car he had driven to Chicago, so when it was time to go, he dropped me at ORD and I told him we’d catch up back in NYC. It was like déjà vu to a few weeks before when he’d dropped me at LAX.
It was time to get even more Midwest and to do grown up work. On to Ohio.
The James Report Card
Pros: Great rooms, awesome location, nice on-site bar, reasonable prices.
Cons: I really can’t think of any.
Verdict: Whenever the price is right, The James will be my pick. I have enjoyed every stay I have had there.