Venue 51 brings back traditional Illini event


Courtesy of Paris Blalock

The bar at Venue 51, which is colored by an array of lights, is now opening to the public for Wednesday night drink specials. Previously, the bar was known for hosting private parties.

By Mara Shapiro

With exposed ceilings, a hammered metal bar and vibrant lights refracting off the geometric interior, Venue 51 provides a new, contemporary setting for Wednesday night drink specials.

Director of Events Paris Blalock said Venue 51, located at 51 E. Green St. and known for hosting various private parties for RSOs on campus, is now trying to compete with other University bars that are open throughout the week. Blalock said Venue 51 wants to become more accessible.

“We know that we have a gorgeous modern venue that looks nothing like any other bar on campus,” Blalock wrote in an email. “We would like everyone on campus to be able to enjoy that scene while experiencing a new specialty drink. We thought, ‘Why limit a facility to private events?’ Our goal is to open more days of the week and eventually full time once we really get our name out there.”

Blalock’s specialty drink of choice is the $5 “Ice Bomb.” It’s composed of six ounces of UV Blue Vodka, regular vodka and Sierra Mist.

According to Blalock, the Ice Bomb used to be a favorite amongst alumni.

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“We are bringing back a very popular and missed specialty drink that was available in the era of 2004-2008. Now, a new generation of U of I students can enjoy,” she wrote.

Megan Gillespie, sales and events manager and also a Champaign local, said bringing back an old tradition will benefit current students.

“When deciding what Venue 51 would be known for, other than our standout venue, I was very excited to incorporate my experience during my college years,” Gillespie wrote in an email. “One of the nights that was big on campus was ‘Bomb Night.’ Many students that attend the University of Illinois at this time either have siblings or friends that attended the University during 2004-2008. To give the students today a piece of what the alumni enjoyed is something that Venue 51 couldn’t pass up.”

Billy Jin, senior in LAS, will be bar backing and bartending until he works his way up to becoming a full-time bartender.

“I like that it’s a new place, so there’s potential to influence how the atmosphere of the bar would be, versus Joe’s and Lion already have their established clientele base,” Jin said.

Jin said that the draw of Venue 51 over the other bars is that it has a cleaner feel and that the “Ice Bomb” is not a bad deal given the cheap price.

“I’m looking forward to seeing its rising popularity,” Jin said.

In addition to the $5 Ice Bombs, there will be other drink specials, according to Gillespie. Amongst the specials are $2 drafts and $2 shots of Fireball.

In addition to being open from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Wednesdays for Bomb Night, Blalock wrote that Venue 51 will be holding Student Stand-up Competitions as well as showing Blackhawks games for viewing.

“The possibilities are endless on what we can and are willing to do at Venue 51 this year,” Blalock said. “We are excited to be more involved with the University Student Life.”

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