Chicago indeed is a city of great opportunity and variety. Native Chicagoans, long-time Chicago transplants, and those new to the area will find that there is always something new and exciting to do in the Chicagoland area. The list below exemplifies just a few ideas of “off the beaten path” activities to consider the next time you are looking for diversion.
A TASTE OF THE UNUSUAL (OR) CLASSIC ENTERTAINMENT WITH A TWIST
Founded in the spring of 1974 by choreographer Lou Conte, the Lou Conte Dance Studio is home to Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. Consider participating in a dance class under the teaching of a current or past Hubbard Street dancer or staff member. Offering instruction in modern and jazz dance and ballet, the school makes even the novice feel at home with classes such as slow tap, hip-hop, and African dance, which is accompanied by live music.
Lou Conte Dance Studio
1147 W. Jackson Blvd., Chicago (312) 850-9766 www.hubbardstreetdance.com/lcds_home.asp
Oksana Hites, owner of the River Breeze Studio and Gallery and yoga instructor extraordinaire, opened her business two years ago in a transitional neighborhood exhibiting beautiful European architecture, which is attracting investors of many types. The River Breeze’s vision is to give new and upcoming Chicagoland artists an opportunity to show his or her talent in a unique setting. A calm, peaceful environment can be felt as one enters the gallery, welcoming visitors to view the tranquil artwork and participate in gentle yoga classes, which encourage relaxation and meditation. Look into one of Oksana’s Saturday morning classes and enjoy lunch at any number of the new restaurants in the Aurora area to make a day of it.
River Breeze Studio and Gallery
14 W. Downer Pl., Suite 16, Aurora (630) 264-2299
By spending just 30 minutes in a Russian or Turkish sauna, your metabolism will increase, it will assist with the breakdown of body fats, and you will burn as many as 500 calories. What’s more, sauna use improves circulation and detoxification, and promotes relaxation and rejuvenation, be it the traditional Russian dry cedar sauna or the Turkish wet stone sauna. After the sauna, take the cold plunge; follow it up with a Turkish massage, and a cold drink and bite to eat. Visit the Chicago Sweatlodge or the Division Street Russian and Turkish Baths for a taste of Old World tradition, and keep an eye out for celebrities, as Hollywood idols love this kind of place. Be sure to ask for a Venik Massage to get the “full treatment.”
3500 N. Cicero Ave., Chicago (773) 202-1777 www.chicagosweatlodge.com
Division Street Russian and Turkish Baths
1914 W. Division St., Chicago (773) 384-8150
Founded in 1991 by Contra-Mestre Marisa, Gingarte Capoeria is the largest capoeira organization in the midwest. For those unfamiliar with capoeira, it is an African-Brazilian form of martial art that incorporates fighting, dance, and gymnastic elements with live music. Gingarte Capoeria offers classes and workshops on capoeira and can be available to perform throughout Chicago.
Contra-Mestre Marisa, Gingarte Capoeria
2056 W. 18th St., Chicago
Whether your interest lies in ballroom (Sunday afternoons), swing (Sunday evenings), salsa (Wednesday evenings), or country-western (Tuesday evenings), the Willowbrook Ballroom’s 80 years of experience can help you find your comfort zone on the dance floor. Visit its Web site for details of Friday and Saturday night offerings and consider joining in on ballroom dancing lessons the first Sunday morning of each month. Six evenings a week (closed Monday’s during summer, closed Thursdays year-round), you will find the three-tiered stage and 6,000 square-foot dance floor teaming with activity. Come early to participate in dance lessons and stay late to practice what you have learned!
8900 Archer Ave., Willow Springs (708) 839-1000 www.willowbrookballroom.com
MORE IDEAS TO CONSIDER
Have you ever wanted to do something so out of the ordinary but just have not found the time or courage to step out of your comfort zone? Consider taking trapeze lessons at the Flying Gaonas Gym, a year-round flying trapeze and circus arts school in Chicago and the suburbs, based out of Skokie. They gladly will let you take a trial swing to see if you are interested in pursuing lessons, and you can relax because safety is emphasized throughout. The gym’s graduated method of teaching allows students to progress at their own level of skill. Owners Gloria and Julio Gaona are seventh-generation professional circus performers who have performed around the world with Ringling Brothers, Shrine Circus, and Circus Flora; Julio as a trapeze artist and Gloria as a hand walker.
In 2001, they were the main attraction of the “Under the Big Top” exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry and since then have offered classes in trapeze and other circus arts, such as hand walking, throughout Chicagoland.
Gloria and Julio are no strangers to Chicago’s limelight as they have been featured on CLTV, WGN-TV, NBC/Channel 5, FOX News/Channel 12, Chicago Tribune and Chicago Magazine. Additionally, they were featured guests on “Wild Chicago” and Rachael Ray’s “Tasty Travels” programs. Classes are offered at various locations in the Chicago area, so contact the gym directly for the location most convenient for you. Consider the Flying Gaonas Gym for your next corporate team-building retreat or birthday party.
Flying Gaonas Gym
Are you an avid hiker? Enjoy history? Just two hours from Chicago you will find incredible views from the Starved Rock State Park, Lodge, and Convention Center majestically overlooking the Illinois River. Acquire a new appreciation for the historical background of the area as you visit the museum and enjoy the trails as you wind through 2,630 acres of thick forest, complete with 18 canyons with breathtaking waterfalls. Make it a “day trip” or stay overnight at the charming lodge or in a rustic cabin in the woods, but above all else, try some homemade fudge while you are there.
Starved Rock State Park, Lodge,
and Convention Center
Rte. 178 & 71, Utica (800) 868-7625
Girls, take a walk on the wild side and visit Flirty Girl Fitness—a high-end exclusive social club for women. This women-only fitness center focuses on fun, feminine, and flirty classes that will help patrons attain fitness goals. The 7,500 square-foot designer studio offers drop-in classes, memberships, bachelorette, and birthday parties plus other private functions. In addition, Flirty Girl Spa offers manicures and pedicures, a sun deck, health café, and be sure to order a signature Flirtini from the lounge.
Flirty Girl Fitness
1325 W. Randolph St., Chicago (312) 666-2266 www.chicago.flirtygirlfitness.com .