Yes, it’s part of Mayor for Life Daley’s Bread and Circuses, but it’s absolutely brilliant!
I just got home from opening night of Summerdance…in Chicago, the Cultural Center runs free concerts Thursday-Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons, featuring just about every kind of remotely danceable music one might dream of, and a few one might not (would you believe a combination of East Indian and reggae? No? Well then check out Funkadesi!). The biggest draws are usually salsa and swing, but they have everything from cajun to blues to klezmer to merengue, and more. The stage is set up at 601 S. Mchigan Avenue, a few blocks south of the Art Institute. If you’re in the area, check it out! Thee full schedule is at www.cityofchicago.org/culturalaffairs/summerdance/
The evening concerts start with a dance lesson at 6 pm, and then at 7:30 a live band goes on and plays until 9:30. But as if free open-air concerts weren’t wonderful enough, I haven’t yet told you about the best part: the wonderful vibe the place emits!
Tonight’s concert was a Roma brass band from Romania called Ciocarlia. I got there late, having had a prior commitment, but the dance floor was packed with people of every imaginable description: curious tourists, Balkan natives of all sorts who grew up listening to this stuff, people who had never heard of Romania in their lives, hardcore folkdancers who come to every concert the Cultural Center puts on, kids, moms, random hippie chicks…and everyone was having an absolute blast! The band was supposed to stop by 9:30, but by the time we left at 10:00, they had left the stage and were playing while wandering among the jubilant dancers remaining on the dance floor, in spite of the coldest June 19 I can remember in the 30+ years I’ve llived in Chicago. The harmony, both literal and metaphorical, sincerely brought a tear to my eye. (Although it wasn’t nearly as amusing as watching the worlds collide as the West Indain half of Funkadesi’s fan base mingled with the East Indian half during the last concert of theirs I saw.)
Why can’t the world encourage more of that kind of sentiment? I truly believe that harmony breeds harmony. Support harmony by supporting your local music scene!