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How the Bears' quiet locker room became 'Club Dub'


In the early 1980s, a group of club DJs and music producers in Chicago started spinning a new type of tune that eventually turned the city into the birthplace of house music. The musical revolution helped establish Chicago as a hub for nightlife and popular clubs.

So maybe it's just following in the tradition of the city that the Bears have established one of Chicago's hottest and most exclusive new clubs this year: Club Dub.

Each week after a win, the Bears locker room is transformed into a club-like scene with strobe lights and music blaring. Players dance around to the tunes and celebrate for a few minutes after each victory. 

After the Bears' first preseason win over the Broncos in August, the mood in the locker room was happy but not celebratory. 

That wasn't good enough for Bears coach Matt Nagy.

"The energy just wasn't there," offensive lineman Bradley Sowell said of the postgame mood. "[Nagy] was just like, 'Hey, wins are hard to get, man. We've got to start ramping this up.' "

The next week when the Bears took down the Chiefs, Club Dub had its soft opening. There weren't any lights and the music wasn't going, but a postgame huddle featured some hyped up barking and exuded the type of energy that would soon become a staple inside Club Dub.

The club officially opened for business in the late hours of Monday, Sept. 17. After the Bears took down the Seahawks for their first win of the regular season, players were surprised to enter a night-club looking locker room. 

"I don't even know how it came to be, honestly," receiver Allen Robinson II said. "I've been on teams where a win is just like, 'OK, we just won today.' It's not really celebrated, so being able to celebrate the wins in this league — because those things are hard to come by — I think it's pretty cool. I think it makes every one that much more meaningful. It's the difference between when you're going into Club Dub after the game or when you're going back into the locker room. I think that's the biggest difference. Everybody wants to be in Club Dub."

In its opening night, Nagy served as emcee after the dancing died down and hyped up his audience of players.

"Here's the thing, it feels good and that's why we have this [celebration]," Nagy said. "Enjoy it, because you're allowed to enjoy it."

The day after the win, Nagy explained that the original idea for that type of postgame celebration came from Cubs manager Joe Maddon. The two connected after the Bears hired Nagy, and the first-year head coach said Maddon emphasized celebrating each win, something Maddon had started doing with the Cubs.

Nagy loved the idea and had Bears head equipment manager Tony Medlin look into ordering the necessary equipment to give the locker room a true night club feel.

Medlin did some research and ordered strobe lights from a local vendor. Medlin and the rest of the equipment staff watch the closing minutes of each game from the locker room, and once the Bears have secured the win, they set up to bring Club Dub to life.

After opening night, Club Dub reopened the following Sunday after the Bears edged the Cardinalson the road.

When the dancing finished up, emcee Nagy took center stage.

"I'll say this: All that matters is that dub," Nagy said. "That's the only thing that matters."

The proclamation emphasized what's been a mantra for team-first football all season, but it also inspired the Bears social media team to officially begin branding the team's postgame locker room celebration as #ClubDub. 

After a third straight week of Club Dub following the Bears' Week 4 win over the Buccaneers, the club went dark for nearly a month until a beat down of the Jets ended a two-game skid, sparking the club to reopen its doors.

The anticipation of club entry has served as an extra motivator for some players.

"Honestly it's like something to look forward to," Sowell said. "It's like a weird little thing that you play for when you're out there. … You just kind of act a fool. It's just something different for a bunch of grown men to do. It's something to look forward to. Something we actually enjoy after every game, so it's been neat."

Spanning from the win over the Jets to the Bears' Thanksgiving Day victory against the Lions, the club opened for five straight postgames.

After Chicago's Nov. 11 win over the Lions, coach Nagy — taking his traditional post-dancing spot in the middle of the huddle — made an announcement.

"The dancing, it's good, it's going to get better each week," Nagy said. "I want everybody in here dancing."

And the team has taken the message to heart. Club Dub's most defining feature may be its laxed admission policy. Dress code isn't jerseys only.

"No checking IDs," Robinson said. "It's just everybody who participated that week. It's about really embracing that moment. … Everybody who comes to work in this facility each and every day comes here to work, especially to help us to win games, so to be able to be a part of the win, I think is special for the organization."

Receiver Taylor Gabriel echoed that point, noting that the most underrated dancer at Club Dub is someone who contributes to the team behind the scenes.

"Our nutritionist (Jenn Gibson)," Gabriel said. "She gets into Club Dub too."

Like any club, the dance floor brings a mix of styles and talents.

"There's a couple just little head boppers," Sowell said.

Sowell used to be less confident in his own dancing skills but credits Club Dub to helping him improve his moves that he got a chance to showcase after catching a touchdown pass against the Rams.

"I have benefitted from the Club Dub, because it's so dark in there that I can really practice in there without getting judged," Sowell said. "So I get a lot of practice in on my own, so then once my time to shine came, I felt like I was well-schooled."

Despite its open-door policy, some aspects of the club remain a mystery. Most players aren't exactly sure who has final say on the music, but say that's part of its authentic feel.

"When you walk into a regular club you don't know who's choosing the music, who's playing the songs, you know?" Robinson said.

Medlin said that the track choices come from a variety of the players in the locker room rather than just one or two sources.

This year the club has featured songs from artists such as Future, Drake and Chicago-area rapper Chief Keef. Lil Baby has also been a staple over the speakers.

Gabriel says it's not about the tunes or the dancing, but rather about the brotherhood.

"If you can just imagine basically being at a club with all your friends," Gabriel said. "Everyone you see you know, and not just your friends but your brothers, somebody that you went to battle with, and just celebrating with them after a win, so that's basically Club Dub."

Following the Bears' first win over the Lions, Nagy doubled down on his expectation that everyone should partake in Club Dub, promising that eventually he'd show off his own dance skills — or lack thereof. 

"If they want to see how bad of a dancer I am, they need to win more," Nagy said in the week following the win. "The message to that was really, don't ever, ever, ever think that winning is easy. Every one of these games are so hard. So no matter what kind of game you had as a player that day or however you coached that day, your butt better be up there or around there. You don't have to be in there dancing, but you can be cheering on and that's my message."