“Bad Blood” pop-up bar rocks the West Loop this Valentine’s Day



Taylor Swift poses with her American Music Awards after winning artist of the decade.

Familiar breakup anthems pump through the speakers. A tarot card reader sits under a sign which reads, “I’m the problem, it’s me.” For anyone with a “long list of ex-lovers,” a “Bad Blood” pop-up bar is the ideal anti-Valentine’s season destination.

Fans of Taylor Swift or anyone in an anti-Valentine’s mood can now flock to Electric Garden in the West Loop to enjoy a Swift-themed night on the town.

“Join Bucket Listers this (Anti) Valentine’s Season at this exclusive pop-up bar for cocktails, singing, and memory making,” reads the website for the Chicago Bucket Listers, an organization dedicated to making experiences around the city more accessible to influencers. 

“We have a partnership with Bucket Listers, the social media company,” Chris Johnston, managing partner at Electric Garden said. “[The pop-up bar] is something that one of the head people at Bucket Listers has been doing for a long time out in L.A. and wanted to bring it to Chicago and continue the fun.”

Upon entering the “Bad Blood” pop-up bar, visitors are immediately greeted by a life-size cutout of Taylor herself and Valentine’s candy-styled hearts reading “We Are Never Getting Back Together” lining the walls, setting the mood for a light-hearted night full of Swift tunes and inside jokes aimed at the truest of fans. 

The menu features crowd-pleasing favorites such as a classic French 75 with a strawberry twist titled the “1989” after the star’s birth year and iconic 2015 Album of the Year. 

A giant polaroid style frame sits in the center of the room, beckoning visitors to take a photo alongside two more life-size cutouts of Swift. Throughout the room, various references to Swift’s own life, including framed photos of her cats, are scattered about to make any visitor feel as though they have awoken into a Taylor Swift fever dream. 

“People have been really enjoying it … it’s just a fun pop-up for people to come in and enjoy, get some tarot card readings done … people are just overall having a wonderful time,” Johnston said. 

Chicago-based content creator Dana Joelle (@danajoelle._ on Instagram) arrived at the “Bad Blood” bar on Feb. 7 adorning her best “bejeweled” outfit and eager to spend a night celebrating Swift’s music and legacy. 

“As a content creator in Chicago, I am always looking for new things happening in the city. When Bucketlisters reached out about the ‘Bad Blood’ bar, the inner ‘Swifitie’ in me was so pumped,” Joelle said.

Joelle found Taylor Swift to be the perfect theme for a Valentine’s Day pop-up.

“Taylor Swift is just the queen of love and anti-love songs. It just made perfect sense that a pop-up bar in her honor would open for Valentine’s Day,” said Joelle.

Overall, Joelle found the experience to be quite worthwhile. 

“Yes, you can take as many photos with the Taylor Swift cardboard cutouts as you want, but there are also massive conversational hearts with her lyrics, a massive balloon arch, neon light-up signs, and even a tarot card reader,” Joelle said. “Not to mention, the entire bar only plays Taylor Swift music videos, so that alone would be worth it if you’re genuinely a fan.”

The pop-up bar has amassed much popularity among Chicago’s Taylor Swift fanbase.

“I wanted to go to ‘Bad Blood’ because my boyfriend and I love [Taylor Swift],” A. Baron, a recent visitor of the bar said. “She’s one of the reasons we met each other.”

Chicago is no stranger to pop-culture themed bars. Bad Blood is not the first of its type. Bars such as “Replay” in Lincoln Park feature alternating pop-culture themes on a monthly basis. 

“Pop-up bars can be a hit or miss, in my opinion,” Joelle said. “If you’re going to do it, you really have to commit to the theme. You can’t just label something a pop-up, have one specialty cocktail, and call it a day.”

Pop culture-themed bars seem to be the new trend in pop-up bars, with bars themed for Austin Powers, Star Wars and Saved By the Bell appearing coast to coast beginning in 2018.

Electric Garden’s “Bad Blood” received Joelle’s stamp of pop-up-bar approval. 

“‘Bad Blood’ had fully printed out ‘Bad Blood’ menus and you could tell they did their best to incorporate little Taylor Swift details into the entire set-up,” Joelle said.

The “Bad Blood” experience, running from Feb. 3 to Feb. 26, is $22 to attend and a 21+ event. “Bad Blood” has no official association to Taylor Swift.

“Bad Blood” is bound to be a unique experience which visitors will remember “all too well.”