Real Rockford Area: Poplar Grove's Chubby Rain a compilation of everything good

It’s Friday night, the parking lot is packed, and the muffled sound of a local band playing their set can be heard 50 feet away.

Walking up to the huge block of gray cement in the middle of nowhere seems disappointing. It took forever to get there, and it’s pouring.

Once inside the double doors, it’s dry, and the temperature is perfect. In the midst of the initial shock of how the inside looks, a loud masculine voice yells out from the right.

“I need to see some identification, ladies,” Dale, a bouncer for Chubby Rain House of Tunes in Poplar Grove, said.

The two young women, damp from the rain, stopped staring in amazement and dug into their purses.

Before they had a chance to put their IDs back into their wallets, a waitress in a black tank top and leather chaps asks what they’re drinking.

Waiting for their drinks, they stand in silence staring at the stage where local band Trippin’ Billies is playing.

After a minute, the silence between the two is broken.

“Did you ever meet Corey?” the 22-year-old blonde screamed over the 32-channel sound system into her friend’s ear. “I think that’s him at that table right there, but I can’t really see him around all these people.”

Before her friend could answer, the waitress was back with their drinks, and they were on their way to the second floor balcony, the only place in the whole bar left with open seats.

Looking over the rail, sitting on a black-topped stool that is vibrating from the music, everything is seen on the first floor.

The dance floor directly below is empty, except for one couple rubbing their bodies against one another in provocative ways. Against the wall, another couple is cuddling on the couch that lines a wall full of band T-shirts.

A smoky haze fills the air as the spot lights flicker and flash an array of different colors and shapes on and around the stage. Zebra print material covers the walls on both sides of the stage, giving the place a more exotic look.

The wooden walls, poles and chairs are hand painted by Diane Curry, co-owner and president of Chubby Rain, with various designs in many colors.

On this particular Friday night, Diane is behind the bar mingling with the customers. Her husband, Mark, co-owner, can be found upstairs playing pool and watching the band playing down below.

The tables below are full of customers dancing in their seats to the beat of the music. On average, there are five people seated at a table full of pitchers, mix drink glasses, bottles, ashtrays and food ranging from steak to chicken wings.

When the music stops for the band to take a break, a contest begins.

All the females are asked to come out to the dance floor and show off their moves. The female to get the loudest cheer receives a free shot. Six girls compete with only one prevailing.

Before the next band has a chance to take the stage, the bar is filled with the sound of mixed conversations, loud laughing and constant smiles.

Hanging out with friends, running into familiar faces from the past, drinking inexpensive drinks, enjoying great entertainment, eating from a diverse menu, playing pool and darts and getting acquainted with the owners are only a few things Chubby Rain has to offer.

In a world where it’s 5 o’clock somewhere, Chubby Rain is definitely somewhere that is a compilation of everything good.

Chubby Rain House of Tunes is at 4210 Countryside Estates Drive in Poplar Grove. Hours are 5 p.m. to 2 a.m., Tuesday-Sunday. Info: 765-1884. Watch TRRT’s Vibe entertainment calendars for upcoming events.

From the June 15-21, 2005, issue

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