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Solo in the Second City

There is a soft rumble of conversations that fills the restaurant bar and the soft clinking of glasses that interrupts the sounds.

Tuesday evenings do not ward people away from Blue Line Lounge and Grill in Wicker Park. People come to unwind from their day or start their night of bartending.

Melinda McIntire by Chien-An Yuan

In a U-shaped booth off to the side of the bar sits the co-producers of Solo in the Second City, a new reading series and blog.

The soft flickering candlelight frames up Melinda McIntire and Carly Oishi, the co-producers of Solo in the Second City. They quietly lean into a conversation full of smiles and soft chatter.

The blog-turned-event that focuses on singles in Chicago who are out in the big bad-dating world trying to find that significant other. Authors who read at the event share stories of their present and past experiences.

Everyone can relate to the ups and downs of dating. There have been plenty of movies dedicated to both men and women trying to find a significant person to spend our time with. But Chicago is a different kind of town.

It’s the kind of place where running into someone is a guaranteed event. Oishi and McIntire share stories of running into old flames and the resurrection of memories from that particular person.

Though those situations can be awkward these ladies have taken that relatable event and turned it in to a humorous experience.

The two women giggle and finish up their conversation and begin to talk about their event. “It’s loosely about being single,” said Carly Oishi, 33, a live-in nanny and Chicago blogger.

“We had both been writing dating blogs for a while and kinda decided to, we had gone to a few events, like we went to Funny Ha-ha. And then we had gone to Sunday Night Sex Show together,” said McIntire, 29, a Chicago Blogger. “As we were listening to other people we thought, ‘well we should do this, we could rock this.’”

Both Oishi and McIntire wrote anonymous blogs about being single in the city. The two became friends over Tumblr, a website to designed to connect with people who have similar interests.

Although the two have only been friends for a year, they have taken their friendship to a very productive place.

The series would be about their dating experiences in what Oishi calls, “A very small city.” Together they approached a friend Blake Dinwiddie, a writer and employee at Cobra Lounge in Chicago.

McIntire, Oishi and Dinwiddie collaborated and decided to start this event at Cobra Lounge. McIntire and Oishi are trying to keep the event a bi-monthly event while reading at other events.

When it came to getting authors interested, McIntire and Oishi had to approach authors at other events. “We went to some of the readings,” said Oishi, “we just cold approached them.”

Jasmine Davila, 36 a software tester is one of those authors who was approached. She said that she had never read at another event but has read at Solo in the Second City and will be doing it again in May.

“I think reading for the series has helped me figure out how to write for performance,” said Davila. “It also reminded me that I love reading to people and I love being read to.”

Charlotte Hamilton, 32 a social worker and bereavement counselor did her first ever reading at Solo. “I never thought of participating in a reading event before. I always thought of myself as a bad storyteller,” said Hamilton. “I really liked being able to deliver lines the way I wanted, rather than trying to make it look on the page like it sounds in my head.”

The stories from person to person vary but the event gave a podium for those who’s dating life is like everyone else– complicated.

“It’s cathartic but it makes me sad that we’re all experiencing this in the end. It can be funny,” said Oishi, “I think we have to be funny to heal and make it kind of a funny thing otherwise it’d be a depressing.”

One of those authors is Samantha Irby, 32 a supervisor at an animal hospital. Irby is the author of Bitch Has Got to Eat a blog.

McIntire and Oishi asked Irby to read for their series and she read for the first show.

Irby is not new to reading around the city, “I read all over the city. The Paper Machete, Funny Ha-Ha, Write Club, The Sunday Night Sex Show and Story Club,” said Irby. She also said, “The vibe was a little different at this show, much more girl-centered.”

When talking about the future McIntire said, “We’ve thought about and talked about it, is making it event. In terms of meeting other single people or other people who are in that kind of thing. There was mention of ‘you guys should have a DJ after words.’ So people could like dance and hang out.

But McIntire says that for now she would like to be able to pay the authors that come to read for the event.  The next Solo in the Second City will be at Cobra Lounge on Tuesday, June 19 at 8 PM.

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