Livin’ La Vida Local: Chicago SummerDance Series

The Country’s Biggest Outdoor Boogie Bash Is Back


Hopefully you have your dancing shoes stashed somewhere in your suite. But even if you don’t, you have through September to get ahold of a pair. Starting today, July 19, and going until September 16 is the 16th year of Chicago SummerDance, presented by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. The largest outdoor dancing festival in the United States (yep, in the country) gets down in the lovely Grant Park, the midpoint between Jackson St. and Congress Pkwy.


The venue may be reason enough to for you to shuffle on out. Grant Park is home to the fest’s 4,900-square foot, open-air dance floor derived completely from recycled materials. Once you head over to the park before each night of the fest, you’ll get the chance to learn from the pros: introductory one-hour dance lessons from professional instructors go down before the official start time. Self-conscious about your jitterbug? Not for long (…well, hopefully).


So, okay, maybe your first jitterbug lesson didn’t go so hot. The lineup features a variety of interesting and toe-tapping music options, acting as a draw in itself. You’ll get everything (really, almost literally every type of music and dance) from live swing, salsa and Hungarian to Indian folk, ballroom and Afro-Cuban acts with accompanying dance lessons. Trust us, you’ll find at least one night to get jazzed about (maybe it’s jazz night? Pun slightly intended). Oh, did we mention it’s all free?


SummerDance goes down every Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 6 to 9:30 p.m. and Sundays from 4 to 7 p.m., weather permitting, tonight through September 16. (FYI: SummerDance In The Parks is the Wednesday night version of the fest that happens in non-Grant Park outdoor venues throughout the city.)

Get There From 215 West Apartments: Get on the Brown Line subway headed toward Kimball at Washington/Wells. Hop off at the Harold Washington Library stop. Commute Time: 15 minutes


Get There From Naperville: Take the BNSF train toward Chicago Union Station. Get on the 126 Bus headed toward Congress Plaza at Canal & Adams. Get off at Michigan & Van Buren/Congress. Commute Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes