Nerds take Chicago

Nerds take Chicago

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Geek Bar Chicago's COO Matt Wolff, left, with CEO and president David Zoltan. (Kickstarter)
Being a hardcore nerd as a child and awkward teen is usually not the most enjoyable of experiences. In fact, getting lost in fantasy worlds and committing oneself fully to passions that others might not understand (or worse, mock) can often feel very frustrating and even acutely lonely at times.
As a former child-geek who cried when I didn’t get my Hogwarts letter, I would know.
Thankfully, being an adult nerd is awesome. Not only do nerds grow up to rule the world, but also—much like a fine wine or Patrick Stewart— letting one’s freak flag fly only gets better with age.
I’ve written about nerd culture before, from finding geek love to navigating the hierachy of nerdom; but this time, I wanted to share some of my favorite resources for nerdery in Chicago and beyond:

Chicago Nerd Social Club

Who gets to be a nerd, geek, dork, etc.? The Chicago Nerd Social Club believes it’s anyone who wants to be, regardless of gender identity, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, religion, political affiliation or fluency in Klingon. The newbie-friendly group hosts tons of monthly events and meetups throughout Chicago, from comic book trivia nights and local museum visits to science fiction and fantasy book clubs. Follow CNSC on Twitter @chicagonerds for updates and info on how to join in!

Geek Bar

After an astoundingly successful Kickstarter campaign, Chicago’s first Geek Bar is officially underway for a Spring 2014 opening. The brainchild of CEO and president David Zoltan combines all of the best aspects of nerd culture into one: innovative food and drinks (hello, Dragon Ribs and test tube cocktails!), an atmosphere of game-play and a mission to foster geek solidarity through community support.

Sugar Gamers

Chicago was recently named the site of a new indie gaming renaissance, thanks in large part to the growing number of women who are giving traditionally misogynistic male gamers a run for their money. The Sugar Gamers are at the forefront of the female gamer movement, giving geeky women the platform to show the gaming industry that they matter, too.

Nerdette Podcast

Looking for a safe space to nerd out about all of the things you’re watching, reading, listening to and encountering IRL? Don’t worry, Nerdette Podcast has you covered. From nerdy summer camp stories and SEO wordplay to awesomely geeky interactions with guests like NPR’s Audie Cornish, hosts Greta Johnsen and Tricia Bobeda cover the broad expanse of pop culture with one-of-a-kind chemistry, wit and enthusiasm. Follow the Nerdettes on Twitter @nerdettepodcast.

Geek Girl Chicago

Another nerd lady who deserves a shoutout is Lauren Rapciak, voice of the Geek Girl Chicago blog for ChicagoNow. Rapciak’s delightful corner of the blogosphere is a treasure trove of GeekEnd updates, book and game reviews, musings on nerd life, and advice for events that range from cosplay burlesque shows to über geek conventions like DragonCon.

The Nerdologues

This Chicago-based sketch comedy group is on a mission to not only “make nerds laugh,” but also bring nerds together in comedic harmony. Each month, they host a “nerdologue” telling event called Your Stories, in which Chicago nerds have the opportunity to share their most daring, hilarious and heartfelt tales. Other regularly-held events include introductory Dungeons and Dragons games, superhero-themed pub crawls and a sketch show every first Sunday of the month at the Public House Theater.

Galloping Ghost Arcade

Chicago is home to many nerd-tastic arcades (Emporium Arcade Bar, Headquarters, Logan Hardware, etc.) but the most spectacular of all resides in Brookfield, Ill. Galloping Ghost is the largest video arcade in the United States, with over 345+ games to play until 2 a.m. daily—no quarters or tokens required!

Movie Trivia

The film nerd is a very special breed; and as someone who campaigned for a Woody Allen class in college and has watched “When Harry Met Sally” about 36 times, I count myself among their ranks. Luckily, The Logan Theatre has one of the best movie trivia nights in town for film buffs, especially those honing their prowess as walking IMDBs. Every Tuesday at 8 p.m., bring a group of five friends to the Logan lounge and show off your cinematic knowledge over beer, popcorn and geeky categories galore.

Adler Planetarium

If you geek out about physics and astronomy, look no further than the Adler for an impressive date night, friendship outing or nerd’s day off to put Ferris Bueller’s to shame. America’s first planetarium has tons of exciting events coming up too, including a visit from NASA astronaut Jerry Ross during World Space Week!

Alright, lovely nerds of Chicago: what else would you add to this list?

Leah Pickett is a pop culture writer and co-host of WBEZ’s Changing Channels, a podcast about the future of television. Follow Leah on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.