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Moonshine, Mobsters and Blind Pigs:

A Visitor's Guide to the Capone Zone

Our two escape rooms are set in Chicago in 1931. The Volstead Act, which banned alcohol across the USA, was still in force. The (illegal) alcohol trade had been taken over by criminal gangs when the ban proved unpopular and difficult to enforce. Al Capone and Bugsy Malone are probably the most well known mobsters of this era.

People kept finding new and creative ways to avert the law. The term ‘Blind Pig’ was coined to describe one such method. A proprietor would charge customers to see an ‘attraction’ (an oddity or unusual animal) then serve a “complimentary” alcoholic drink. Many other names were used for illegal bars, saloons and clubs during prohibition, you may have heard of a few: Blind tiger; Speakeasy; Gin joint or Juice joint. These weren’t the only codewords and euphemisms the mobsters and revellers of the 1920s and 30s used. Many of the words and phrases fell out of fashion, but a few are still used across America and the rest of the world today. Here are some of my favourites:

  • Big Cheese – an important person
  • Bootlegger  – an alcohol smuggler
  • Cake Eater – a ladies man
  • Can Opener – a safe cracker
  • Flat Tire – a boring, dull person
  • Giggle water – liquor
  • Hard-boiled –  tough;without feeling or sentiment
  • Hooch – liquor (originally liquor from the Hoochinoo tribe of Alaska)
  • Moonshine – liquor
  • Torpedo – a killer for hire, a hit man
  • Typewriter – a machine gun

There is a map of Chicago in our Mystery and Moonshine room that was originally published in 1931. It’s a pictorial map featuring a ‘Ganglands Dictionary’ along with gruesome details of some of the events of the time. The map is described by the national library of congress as “A map of Chicago’s gangland: from authentic sources, designed to inculcate the most important principles of piety and virtue in young persons and graphically portray the evils and sin of large cities”. I could lose myself in it for hours just looking at all the little details. It was one of the first props we bought for the room and it really helped inform the overall style and design. We love having a genuine piece of history included in the game.

Chicago Ganglands Map

We had a lot of fun mixing fact and fiction to bring you the stories for these two themed escape rooms. You are tasked with finding and retrieving a shipment of Al Capone’s favourite Mississippi Moonshine. In Mystery and Moonshine, you are searching the office of Private Investigator Mick Macy, for clues and evidence of the where-abouts of the missing moonshine. In Piggy Blinders, you are breaking into a Blind Pig in search of the shipment.
The games are both family friendly, as they have a light take on the theme and are suitable for kids aged 8+, although, we have had much younger kids who have got quite involved when playing along with their parents! Kids from around age 14 will usually manage as well as (if not better than) adults.
Book in advance online or call if you are looking for last minute availability.

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