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Bughouse Square Debates: public debate, soapbox speeches & heckling for a prize!

  • Jul 28, 2012 · 1:00 PM
  • This location is shown only to members

“Bughouse Square, where every variety of radical sect, lunatic religion, and crackpot health panacea was preached from a row of soapboxes,” wrote poet Kenneth Rexroth who grew up in Chicago in the 1920s.

Celebrate Chicago’s long history as a hub of free speech with an afternoon of public debate, soapbox speeches, heckling, and music. Bring your loudest heckling voice, mount the open soapbox, and keep free speech alive and well.

Nowadays, the event is a competition between speakers, and part of the contest is not only to see if an orator can hold his own while being heckled, but if he inspires heckling at all. The grand prize is a giant plastic pickle.

(Studs Terkel, Mayor of Bughouse Square)


Free annual event. Show up any time during the event. Look for skeptics wearing the group's emblem on pins or tshirts.

Also on site: Newberry Library 28th Annual Book Fair

Are there any local people you would like to see speak from a soapbox? Would you give it a try? What would you rant about? Speakers get to pick their topics.


Open Soapbox: Drop by the Open Soapbox and speak out for yourself! (up to 15 minutes) Sign up at (312)[masked] or ask in person.

This event is outdoors in a small park. You might want to bring a bottle of water, a beach towel to sit on, sunscreen, hat, etc.

Take public transit if possible. Parking information:

After the event, please join us at Cafe Iberico at 4:30 pm. It's a Spanish tapas restaurant with prices that vary from $2.00 to $7.00 per tapa, according to its website.

According to Google, it is a 7 minute walk (right past Moody Bible Institute, haha) from Bughouse Square. The restaurant manager Adriana will open the 2nd floor bar/dining area at that time for us.

Cafe Iberico is located at 737 N LaSalle, Chicago IL 60654.

Join or login to comment.

  • the m.

    Last year was so much fun! Come to Bughouse Square Debates 2013 on July 27!

    June 13, 2013

  • Ken

    SO glad you guy's listed this, to make more people aware of it...
    I look forward to next year

    July 29, 2012

  • Mel

    Super duper fun meeting you guys!

    2 · July 28, 2012

  • Jennifer

    Excited to see how soapbox debaters use/don't use logic :) Plus, haven't been to Cafe Iberico in a long time...yummmm!

    July 27, 2012

  • the m.

    Bughouse Square event details have been updated. Please join us at nearby Cafe Iberico after the event.

    July 27, 2012

  • the m.

    I like how one heckler had a Walter Payton theme: Preacher Lutzer is told by an audience member to not call them "skeptics" as if it's a dirty word. Wish a skeptic had been there to defend skepticism!

    May 31, 2012

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