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Jennifer Grubb

Jennifer Grubb

Senior producer | CNN Special Projects | Class of 1991

An ode to the late, great Chester Street, by a future CNN producer who could boogie with the best of them back in the day ...

"I moved to Champaign-Urbana in August 1989 from New Jersey to start my graduate studies in broadcast journalism at the University of Illinois," says Jennifer Grubb from the Class of 1991.

"I had just graduated from a small, Ivy League wannabe school in rural Pennsylvania. I couldn’t wait to experience a larger campus with a more diverse student body and be a plane ride away from home. I needed freedom and I needed to find myself. 

"I didn’t venture out too much in the town as my journalism courses and my graduate assistantship kept me quite busy. But one Friday night, a friend suggested we let our hair down and go have some fun. She said she knew the best place to go dancing I was totally game. 

"We ended up at Chester Street Bar — aka C-Street. While classified as a 'gay bar,' the club was a stomping ground for everyone, regardless of gender or sexual preference. I danced my heart out, even getting on top of speakers — and no, that is not something I normally do. I was having a blast, sweating up a storm and laughing with my friend. 

"I continued to go there throughout the two years I lived in Champaign-Urbana. I made some new friends, had a lot of belly-aching good times and stepped away from my intense studies to simply chill out. I am so glad I had that release — both mentally and physically.

"Today, some 25 plus years later, I wish I had kept in contact with my C-Street buddies. I graduated from the U of I and moved to Atlanta to start working for CNN. I threw myself into my career, got married and had kids.

"I went online to see if the bar is still open." (It's not, though until a revent fire, plans were to transform the building into a new multi-level bar). "I hope it does re-open because everyone needs a place to go where they are accepted for who they are and can dance their worries away — even if it is only for one night."