One, Two, Cha-Cha-Cha
Dancing with the Stars is so May sweeps. Just put down that remote and catch the interactive alfresco version: dancing under the stars. Here are a few—mostly free—places to perfect your samba (or foxtrot or two-step) this summer.
1 Chicago SummerDance The Emmitt Smith of outdoor dancing-this is the champ. An hour of lessons in genres from funk to country segues to dancing to live music, weather permitting. If you've got to sit one out, pull up a chair for the floor show. Free, June 14th through August 26th; Thursday through Saturday 6-9:30, Sunday 4-7. Spirit of Music Garden, Grant Park, 601 S. Michigan Ave. The Nomadic DJ Series dispatches local DJs out to spin music at other venues, like Daley Plaza and Millennium Park. 312-742-4007.
2 Hot Summer Nights What better way to slip into summer weekends than a Thursday night amid the lush foliage of the Chicago Botanic Garden? Instructors offer tips on anything from Caribbean (June 28th, featuring Roots Rock Society) to Cajun (July 19th with the Cajun Aces). Food for sale reflects the evening's genre. Parking $15. On the Esplanade, 1000 Lake-Cook Rd., Glencoe. 847-835-5440.
3 Tuesdays on the Terrace Dancing's not required, but the jazz played might entice you to move. Happy hours are Tuesdays 5:30-8 from June 5th through September 25th out on the Museum of Contemporary Art's terrace. Featured performers include the Josh Berman Trio (June 5th) and Jeff Chan's Quorom (June 26th). The music's free; cash bar, box suppers on site. 220 E. Chicago Ave. 312-280-2660.
4 Jazz City The free Jazz City Series of bebop, big-band, and Latin jazz at 7:30 comes from all corners of Chicago. Highlights include fab vocalist Dee Alexander's homage to saxophonist Light Henry Huff (June 15th) in the open-air Columbus Park refectory (5701 W Jackson Blvd.), and a trio of Latin jazz bands (July 13th) at the Humboldt Park boathouse (1359 N Sacramento Ave.). More info at 312-742-7529.
5 Chicago Folk and Roots Festival One whole tent is devoted to dancing at this July 14th and 15th event. Day one highlights include line and circle dancing with music by Jutta and the Hi-Dukes, and salsa rhythms from El Caribe Tropical. Day two's got hip-hop plus dancing to accordion-laced polkas laid down by The Polkaholics. Sat, Sun noon-9:30. $7. Welles Park, 2333 W. Sunnyside Ave. 773-728-6000.