There are neighborhood bars—somewhere you don't have to work to get a seat or the bartender's attention, a dive that you like in a non-ironic way. And then there are bars that define a neighborhood. While the personality of Wicker Park seems malleable, as aspiring hotspots dilute the bohemian character that brought the area attention, it's probably a safe bet that the role of local fixture will be played by the Rainbo Club, a shot-and-a-beer saloon on Damen at Division, for the foreseeable future.
Rainbo's current incarnation started in October 1985. After past lives as both a polka bar and a watering hole in the Wicker Park of author Nelson Algren, the building was bought that year by Dee Taira and her partner, Gavin Morrison. The sprawling wooden bar, small white stage and red-vinyl booths have been maintained pretty much as purchased.