The building’s exterior is similar to most of the buildings of the area: dark brownstone facing, covered with decades of birdlime and defaced by decades of Chicago winters, with shade-covered windows on the upper floors. A long dark green awning extends from the door to the street: the club’s name is emblazoned on the front in white, cursive letters.
The building itself is four stories tall, with a basement holding the necessary equipment like the furnace. The stairway beside the nightclub is the only public entrance to the upper floors: in the alley behind the building is a series of fire escapes.
Inside, the walls of the club area are glossy black with gold and silver Art Deco accents. The floor is carpeted in dark fabric with angular, geometric designs in gold. The tables are covered with glass; a centerpiece with a small candle in a red glass and spiraling black metal holder is on every table. Chairs and seats are black wood and black vinyl. Two coffee and water service areas are position at either side of the club area. Lighting is indirect. A large mirrored ball hangs in the center above the stage amidst the spotlights.
The waiting area outside is paneled in dark wood. A coat check room and the restrooms open on to the waiting area: access to the working areas of the club are available through an inconspicuous door in the back.
The kitchen/bar, a manager’s office and two dressing rooms (one reserved for Morgana), a washroom/janitor’s closet, the storage area, and the area backstage take up the area in back. The storage room holds spare tables and chairs and necessary odds and ends: it also holds shipping trunks for magic acts when necessary. Access to the furnace and basement for dead storage is through the back of the storage room.
The stage is well constructed, with a light and sound desk in the wings controlling a complete lighting and sound system including adjustable spotlights in the ceiling of the club pointing towards the stage. Music for any acts is provided by cassettes or CDs. The two curtains are fireproof: the front curtain is off-white while the rear curtain is black with silver threads. There is enough space backstage to support any small or medium sized magic prop or illusion.
The club employs a business manager, a backstage manager who is also the electrician, light and sound man and prop man, two bartenders and a short order cook/bartender, three regular waitresses, a coat check girl, and a general caretaker. Temporary waitresses are sometimes hired from an agency when one of the regulars is unavailable or a larger than normal crowd is expected. Cleaning is performed by a contract commercial cleaning company that arrives every night after closing.
Fire exits are positioned beside the stage, out the front door, and out the back service exit.
Lydia’s is open from 4:00 pm to 10:00 pm Monday through Thursday, 4:00 pm to midnight Friday through Sunday. Stage performances are usually on the even hour and last about 20 to 30 minutes: close-up magic will be performed at any time. Besides a wide range of drinks available, the kitchen in capable of producing short order items upon request.