Dolls On The Run

Nina Mercado and Kat Mercado

Two days prior to an upcoming event and after four long years at the Wicker Well, without any notice, I was shocked and had the wind knocked out of me upon hearing that the Well was closing their doors.

Although there is no one to blame or find fault with for the Well closing – it was a devastating blow to those of us who have lived and breathed Doll House for such a very long time.

Why Devastating? In the incredible four years that the Doll House has been open – we had never been shut down. I take great pride in that fact. We are the longest running Lesbian Night in Chicago. Four Years, every single Friday the Doll House rock and rolled Chicago Lesbian night life. With the news of the closing of our host venue – I was lost and distraught. So much hard work and dedication, so many friends and faces – so much blood, sweat and tears – so much of myself had been put into Doll House that to consider it was gone in a moment’s notice shook me good. I had so many memories… and that part of my life was suddenly lost —– or so I thought.

The idea of Doll House all began because I was a bartender in a place that was really slow. With all that free time I got to talking to some peeps at the bar. The DJs that were working that night suggested starting a gay night. At the time I thought…”would these Lesbians really leave a gay area to party in the inner city?” I didn’t think too long but I did say to myself – “let’s do this thing.”

My first business partner was with me for 2 years. Between the both of us we worked our behinds off checking out lesbian nights in Chicago to see what worked and what didn’t. What we liked and what was a WOW factor. What we found was – there wasn’t a young urban night in Chicago. We wanted Hip Hop, House, R & B, Latin. We wanted sexy GOGOs and great drink specials. We knew we had the recipe for a successful event. When I look back at our very first event – it is clear that the lesbian community was hungry for what Doll House was cooking!!

In 2010 my business partner and I parted ways. I was left to take care of Doll House and all the responsibilities that come with it. It was then that I decided to take complete creative control and form a mega team. I call it my team of all stars. After a few hiccups and learning how to effectively manage a team of 10 people…Doll House became a staple in the community. When we hit our three year mark I knew we were here to stay – and the party only continues to get bigger and better!!

Let’s fast forward to 2012. I find out Wicker Well is closed. I am devastated and frantically call my sister. She handles all of our social media and networking, and she tells me the most amazing thing. It was eye opening really. My sister Kathy said, “Doll House isn’t Wicker Well, it’s a vibe, it’s all of us.” I knew in my gut that she was right. I finally understood that in ten years when people think about Doll House they won’t even think about what bar they were in. They will remember the amazing time they had. That realization was a powerful one for me.

When I walked into our new Venue – Cuna Sports Lounge – all I saw was how big the place was and wondered to myself how the hell would we fill it?? I had doubts and thoughts running around in my head like crazy. Luckily the loyalty of the Doll House crowd and the confidence my team instilled in me made me believe. They made me believe this could be our new home.

What I’m most grateful for is…having a great team. A team that has proved they will hang with me through good nights and the occasional bad moments. For a long time I didn’t want to be the FACE of Doll House. I don’t do this because I want to be cool or in the in crowd. I do this because I want to bring women together, I want to see a diverse group of girls having a blast and meeting new people. I love introducing people to each other. I love having a place I can call home. Most of all I love to hear Doll House Memories. I plan to throw Doll House until people stop coming. I love what I do.









Next Event
April 20, 2012 / 9pm-2am
No Cover
1113 W Belmont Ave, Chicago, IL 60657
Click here for more details!

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About Nina

Nina is a Chicago native, of Puerto Rican decent. Four years ago she co founded Doll House, which is a weekly Lesbian night in Chicago. Nina is now running Doll House with a team of twelve people, and swears it’s been the best four years of her life. After 18 years of arroz con gandules, Nina decided to take on the city to see what the neighborhoods have to offer. Some people eat to live, and although she hates to admit it, she lives to eat. Spoiling herself with one, two…OK maybe four or five nights out a week. When Nina is not indulging in Chicago eats, you can find her with a colorbrush in her hand in a high end salon making Chicago more beautiful every day.


11 Responses to “Dolls On The Run”

  1. I am so proud of you sister!!!
    It’s important to be able to walk into a place and know you are welcomed, wanted, and needed. I’ve said it before and I will say it again Doll House is a place where you always fit in and NEVER have to be worried about holding your girlfriends hand. Thank you for believing in yourself and what you created. You are beautiful and talented and I couldn’t be more proud of you!

    Posted by Kat Whoo | April 19, 2012, 12:38 pm
  2. Great story!
    You’re writing skills are superb.
    It is interesting taking a trip into the mastermind of such an influential group in the Chicago Queer scene.
    What you have done is wonderful and I for real wish ya’ll the best. I may not support in the physical but ya’ll are seriously AMAZING people!!!!

    To future successes!

    Posted by Heather Hall | April 19, 2012, 12:41 pm
  3. I agree you can throw the dolls in an alley and it’d be a party. It was never about the bar and i’m glad you noticed that and didn’t give up. It’s true, WickerWell offered that family feel and i will always miss it. But keep bringing the energy Nina. A lot of people promote and throw parties like it’s a popularity contest. The reason you have done so well is because you know what family is. And you took time in building your “team” which eventually became an extended family. I remember about 2 years ago I had an issue with a bartender and had made a FaceBook post about it. You immediately started asking me what you can do to make my experience better and bought me a drink and apologized the next time I had came out. Ever since then–I knew DollHouse wasn’t just any gay night, it was somewhere i felt comfortable at and it felt like home. I always said it’s like Cheers, you walk in and everyone knows your name. I kiss more people hello at DollHouse then I do at family parties lol. As i get older i find myself wanting to be out on the scene less and less but on that occasional Friday where i’m feelin it, i’ll always make a stop to see my dolls. Kudos on placing a magnificent milestone in Chicago Lesbian Night Life. <3 Ash

    Posted by BLACK | April 19, 2012, 12:48 pm

    I’m nothing short of spectacular with out you. My team is a family. We stand by each other!
    And thank you for sticking with me through good times and bad….

    For all those who thought I couldn’t do it…
    How do you like them apples?

    Posted by Nina Doll House | April 19, 2012, 12:50 pm
  5. Kat heather Ash!


    Posted by Nina Doll House | April 19, 2012, 12:54 pm
  6. Thank you for providing a place for us all =)*

    Love you pal.

    Posted by Jenise | April 19, 2012, 12:57 pm
  7. After working at a job that absolutely DRAINS the life out of me, I somehow manage to find the energy to make it to Dollhouse almost every Friday. It is Dollhouse and Dollhouse only that gives me a break from the real world and a place that feels as close to home as anything possibly could. I’ve met so many astonishing and beautiful people there and it’s oddly enough even opened my own eyes and heart to people I normally wouldn’t have. Everyone there has always been so welcoming and friendly. It’s a home outside of home. A place to relax and have a great time. I wouldn’t spend my Friday’s anywhere else! Happy 4 years guys, you’re doing an awesome job and thank you!!!

    Posted by Melissa Garcia | April 19, 2012, 1:01 pm
  8. Are white peeps allowed?

    Posted by Marie | April 19, 2012, 7:25 pm
  9. I’m very proud of you baby. I know Doll House is close too your heart. You made Doll House what it is today. Without your hard work and dedication these Fridays will be just like any other. I thank everyday for Doll House, because thats where I met you….I love you always.

    Posted by Disa | April 19, 2012, 7:53 pm
  10. 🙂 Marie, I’m curious on what white means to you?
    I don’t see skin color when I walk in a room. I see people,
    Women, lesbians. I pride myself in diversity. I love women and my lesbian scene. My girlfriend is european. White to me is a shade if mixed with black it creates grey…I don’t refer to people by color, but by name. Unfortunately if that is what you see when you walk into a room then this night may not be for you. I do hope you open yourself to the idea of mixing with with people not quite like you…you never know what may come from it…

    Posted by Nina Dolhouse | April 19, 2012, 7:57 pm
  11. Nina — you took the words right out of my mouth — love you girl – and the way you see this crazy world. xoxo

    Posted by K Guzman | April 20, 2012, 8:43 am

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