From Aqua to Aura

I confess I went to Club Aura on Astor Street with some preconceived notions. From what I heard before arriving, the owners had revamped and reopened on New Year’s Eve. By revamped, I mean they changed the club’s name from Aqua to Aura (cheaper than buying 4 new letters, I suppose) and transformed the interior from blue to shades of red, orange and pink. This idea of switching a couple of letters and changing a color scheme struck me as a somewhat half-hearted attempt at reinvention. I expected the worst.So we walked into the bar and were immediately smoldered in…

I confess I went to Club Aura on Astor Street with some preconceived notions. From what I heard before arriving, the owners had revamped and reopened on New Year’s Eve. By revamped, I mean they changed the club’s name from Aqua to Aura (cheaper than buying 4 new letters, I suppose) and transformed the interior from blue to shades of red, orange and pink. This idea of switching a couple of letters and changing a color scheme struck me as a somewhat half-hearted attempt at reinvention. I expected the worst.

So we walked into the bar and were immediately smoldered in pink glow. I felt like I was in a secret, “dirty” room at first – the ubiquitous pink and cheesy Top 40 radio left a cheap impression. Looking and walking around, I discovered that Aura is separated into three sections: a cocktail table area nearest the entrance of the Comfort Inn; a lounge area with ‘50s vinyl furniture, a free pool table and dancing pole; and the separate dance club hidden behind a large red velvet curtain. This last area had its own bar, two additional dancing poles, a DJ booth and VIP seating.

This was the point when I knew I needed to be here on a weekend to get the full impression. How long were the lines for the poles, who are the people who think they deserve VIP status, what was the DJ playing, were the ladies scantily clad? These things are important. But, I was in Missouri all weekend for a film festival. So instead, I attended a nearly empty Aura on a weeknight and had a surprisingly calm evening.

We sat at the transparent bar filled with bubbling water (actually oil, according to our bartender) and yes, more pink glow. Behind us were a few two-seater, high-back booths with crystal chandeliers above each intimate table. Hanging in the middle of the bar were eight flat-screen TVs: one playing wrestling, and eventually our bartender’s favorite show, “Burn Notice.” He had gelled up spiky hair and seemed at first glance like your typical club type. He offered to show how the bar could change colors in a slowly progressing rainbow pattern or a vertigo-inducing blue strobe light – or was it gray, I can’t remember, I was in shock.

But just like with Aura, our bartender proved to be more than my initial impression suggested. He had a minor in Spanish and French, was well traveled and planned to attend law school in the fall. He was helpful and knowledgeable, told us about some of the more popular martinis and sent us home with free drink cards for Ladies Night on Thursdays.

As for the prices and drinks, the beer selection is not so hot, and too expensive. Taps and bottles range from $4-$6 and you have to drop $4.50 on a PBR, which is mind-blowing. Their specialty is definitely martinis. Those range from $8-$13. One I found interesting was the Oatmeal Cookie made with Bailey’s, Butterscotch Schnapps and a touch of Goldschläger. They have a pretty lengthy wine list, and you can get a house glass for $7. Aura also offers daily specials and a food menu. We had the baked Brie, which was tasty. There is usually no cover on weekends, except for a mandatory $2 coat check.

Oh, Aura, you baffle me so. I really expected not to like you, but your bubbly bar was soothing and your dark wood pool table is no slave to quarters. I’m woman enough to admit that I unfairly prejudged Aura and I’m happy to have been proven wrong. I’ll be sure to pop in again soon and report back on the weekend scene.

Daily Specials
Sunday
$3 rail drinks, 2 for 1 wine (glass & bottle), $5 margaritas
$2 tap beer, $8 large pitcher
$3 cheeseburgers until 10 p.m. (includes all toppings)


Monday
Happy Hour, 4-7 p.m.
Half off appetizers, 2 for 1 wine (glass & bottle)
$2 tap beer, $8 large pitcher, $5 margaritas
$3 cheeseburgers until 10 p.m. (includes all toppings)


Tuesday
Happy Hour, 4-7 p.m.
25 cent wings until 10 p.m.

Wednesday

$5 pizza until 10 p.m.


Thursday
Ladies Night
9 p.m. – close
$3 Three Olives mixers, $3 X-Rated shots – knock ‘em back and swing on a pole
$4 bombs and Patron shots – I just learned about coffee-flavored Patron tequila, sounds awful.
$5 martini and margaritas all night


Friday
9 p.m. – midnight
$5 Three Olives mixers, half-off Tequila shots
$5 margaritas all night


Saturday
9 p.m. – close
Ladies only: 2 for 1 martinis, 2 for 1 margaritas, $3 X-Rated shots – they sure do cater to the ladies, hmm.



Brocach Irish Pub
1850 N. Water St.
Wednesday nights: Trivia with Paul Kennedy
Thursday nights: Open Mic night with Jerry and Evan. Sing a song, drink a $1.50 Miller High Life. Or just listen to the hosts’ renditions of The Pixies, Modest Mouse, etc.


Late night drink specials:
Daily 10 p.m. – close
$3 Van Gogh and Rehorst mixers
$5 Van Gogh and Rehorst martinis
$1.50 Miller High Life bottles
$3 20 oz. domestic drafts
$3 Wisconsin 20 oz. draft beers


Aura
1011 N. Astor St.
Thursday, March 5: Kiss & Tell Party
Lingerie Fashion Show at 9:30 p.m., hosted by My City Promotions.
Receive one “Kiss” every time you buy a drink and the one with the most “Kisses” may receive sexy lingerie and free bottle service.
Regular Ladies Night Specials and $4 “Kiss” Martinis


Suite
1103 Old World Third St.
Friday, March 6: Fashion Affair, Ma Jolie and Neroli present a spring fashion show. General admission $20, tickets available at Suite


The Cactus Club
2496 S. Wentworth Ave.
Friday, March 6: The Get Down starts at 10 p.m. Their rare selections of funk and soul are a dancin’ treat.


The Gig
1132 E. Wright St.
Saturday, March 7: Yay! Chalice in the Palace will throw yet another punky reggae party this weekend. It’s been a while for me, I must go.


Balzac
1716 N. Arlington Pl.
Sundays: Raid the Cellar
3 p.m.-close, half off selected bottles and glass pours


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What is a woman stuck in a miserable marriage to do? Nikol Knows.


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