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Video: Palm Court, Punch House, and U.B. Dogs

Posted on August 27th, 2014 by

Sheila Garg, concierge at the Hard Rock Hotel Chicago, is this week’s concierge correspondent and shares her top three picks for things to do around town.

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Chicago SummerDance in the Parks

Posted on August 27th, 2014 by


Step out of your hotel room and you’ll notice that Chicago is full of rhythm and a lot of us translate that rhythm on the dance floors, but some of us have a little more trouble with that. If you find yourself with the latter don’t worry because the city will help you out.

Chicago SummerDance in the Parks is a fun way to learn how to dance different styles of music, meet new people, and enjoy some great music outdoors. The experience includes an hour of lessons and two hours of dancing. The city has two more lessons for you to close out the summer right.

Visit Ping Tom Park tomorrow to get a salsa lesson from Dance Academy Salsa. You’ll also learn other Latin dances like mambo and bachata. After learning your steps you’ll get to practice to the sounds of Latin DJ El Caobo.

SummerDance’s last session brings it back home with Chicago Steppin’. Learn this style of urban dance unique to this city at Austin Town Hall where you’ll learn from Dawud and Lura Shareef and then get to steppin’ with the sounds from DJ Mellow Khris.

Chicago SummerDance in the Parks salsa class takes place Thursday, August 28 at Ping Tom Park located at 300 W. 19th St., and the Chicago Steppin’ class takes place Thursday, September 4 at Austin Town Hall located at 5610 W. Lake St. The classes are free and run from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. For more information visit


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36th Annual Chicago Jazz Festival

Posted on August 26th, 2014 by

Cécile McLorin Salvant

This rain has got our productivity low and our music mellow. It may not be the greatest weather, but it’s the best to put on some Blue Note records and chill. Luckily enough you can listen to some live jazz this weekend to enhance the mood.

The 36th Annual Chicago Jazz Festival returns this weekend with jazz’s best and also up-and-coming musicians. What started as a tribute to the late Duke Ellington in Grant Park has transformed into the one of the world’s free and most extensive gathering of different jazz musicians from around the world.

You can catch over 50 performances during the four-day festival from avant-garde to Latin that are all worthy of your time, but we’ve highlighted just a few acts that you truly can’t miss.

For those who know very little about jazz it’s always best to dip your toe with a jazz vocalist as it won’t be too far off what people listen to now as far as song structure, but at the same time completely different in style. Cécile McLorin Salvant couldn’t be a better introduction to jazz music as the music truly oozes out of her voice. Unlike most of what’s on the radio where female singers are all trying to out-power each other, what you’ll hear from Salvant is a woman who isn’t about being the loudest or hitting the highest note but about truly using her voice as an instrument to convey all kinds of character and emotion. Winner of the 2010 Thelonious Monk Jazz Vocals Competition, the 24-year-old singer is full of charisma and skill that enchants audiences and critics alike.

Now that you’ve got a taste of  jazz let’s leave the vocal and head into the more instrumental. Miguel Zenon’s sound is a great next step as you’ll recognize his Latin roots in his music but you’ll get further into what separates jazz from other genres with his modern alto sax sound. However, don’t expect the typical Latin jazz orchestras you might be used to as Zenon looks to go deeper into his roots grabbing influences from rural Puerto Rican styles like plena, and once his lips hit the sax the entire game changes.

The name Terrence Blanchard might mean nothing to the regular person, but if you’ve ever seen a Spike Lee film then you’ve definitely heard his iconic trumpet bring the emotion out of many of Lee’s scenes. Artistic director of the Thelonious Monk  Institute of Jazz, Blanchard is known for his hard bop style but has shifted focus slightly with his latest album Magnetic as it has a bit more of an electronic feel that the festival’s audience will surely get a taste of.

36th Annual Chicago Jazz Festival 2014 Artist Playlist

The 36th Annual Chicago Jazz Festival is taking place Thursday, August, 28 through Sunday, August 31 at Millennium Park, the Chicago Cultural Center, and Ganz Hall. Admission is free and for more information visit

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Last Chance to See ‘Cirque Shanghai: Warriors’ at Navy Pier

Posted on August 25th, 2014 by

CirqueShanghaiWarriorsNavyPierCirque Shanghai: Warriors rounds out its performances at the Pepsi Skyline Stage at  Navy Pier this weekend.

Now in its ninth consecutive summer season, this latest installment of Cirque Shanghai combines the impressive acrobatics audiences have enjoyed in the past with the martial prowess of Chinese Kung Fu and Wu Shu masters. The result is powerful display of athleticism and the mastery of disciplines that formed the backbone of military might in ancient China for thousands of years.

This summer’s production of “Cirque Shanghai: Warriors” brings an extraordinary line-up of thrilling acts to the stage, including The Kinetic Poles, the powerful Water Meteor and the heart-pounding Pageant of Arms. Returning to the production from last year is the fate-tempting “Wheel of Destiny,” and China’s premier daredevil steel-globe motorcycle troupe, “Imperial Thunder”.

Performance Schedule & Tickets

The regular performance schedule is:

  • Wednesday at 2, 6 and 8 p.m.
  • Thursday at 2 and 8 p.m.
  • Friday at 2, 7 and 9 p.m.
  • Saturday at 2, 6 and 8 p.m.
  • Sunday at 2 and 4 p.m.

The Wednesday and Saturday 8 p.m. shows are followed by Navy Pier’s spectacular fireworks display!

Tickets are on sale via Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000 or Tickets are $19.50- $39.50 for adults and $15.50 for children ages 3 to 12. Discounted tickets for groups of 10 or more are also available by calling GroupTix at 773.327.3778 or visiting

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Venetian Night returns to Navy Pier

Posted on August 20th, 2014 by

A longtime favorite festival in Chicago, Venetian Night returns to the lakefront once again—this time exclusively at Navy Pier!

On Saturday, Sept. 6, gather on Navy Pier’s South Dock for “Broadway on Parade” as illuminated boats decorated in the theme of your favorite Broadway musicals take to the water in a stunning aquatic parade that is set to music.

The lighted boat parade begins at 8:30 p.m. with spectacular Navy Pier fireworks marking the end of the festivities. While there, make sure to look for ways to vote for your favorite boat in the parade!

-Sponsored Post

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Video: Chicago Dance Festival, Lincoln Square, and Mott Street

Posted on August 20th, 2014 by

Sheila Garg, concierge at the Hard Rock Hotel Chicago, is this week’s concierge correspondent and shares her top three picks for things to do around town.

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Posted on August 20th, 2014 by


Design isn’t just about clothing and furniture but also lives in the smallest things like utensils, documents, bikes, and more. Chicago is a city that smacks you in the face with design as you walk around and a new exhibit showcases some of the best and brightest in Chicago design.

Curated by Rick Valicenti, 2011 recipient of the prestigious Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award, “CHGO DSGN” is a retrospective over 100 of the city’s recent object and graphic designers featuring over 200 works. What you’ll be surprised by is when taken out of their everyday uses a lot of these items that you’ve walked by countless times are actually beautiful. You might be tired of seeing the blue Divvy bikes on the street but when you take a moment to look at them through a different lens you’ll realize its beauty and in the exhibition learn how design helped in the naming of the bikes. Another typical item is Goose Island’s 312 bottles, which you can see piling up in any number of trash cans in the city but surely you have rarely taken the time to inspect the typography and design of the labels.

Some not so usual pieces you’ll find are the CST-01 wristwatch and the leather chair by Jay Sae Jung Oh. The wristwatch is made by Central Standard Timing and is the thinnest watch in the world. The leather chair at first glance doesn’t seem like a chair at all and once you get a good look at it might be called a throne instead of a chair due to the aura of raw power and emotion that it invokes.

“CHGO DSGN” runs through November 2 at the Chicago Cultural Center located at 78 E. Washington St. The exhibit is free and open to the public. For more information visit

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Chicago: City of Big Data Exhibit

Posted on August 20th, 2014 by


The world has become metrics, data, and statistics obsessed. From public transportation times to exercise wristbands to fantasy football leagues, everyone is trying to take as much data as possible to become more successful, healthy, and efficient. Chicago is no different and a new exhibit demonstrates how the city is handling all the data.

While a small exhibit, “Chicago: City of Big Data” has a lot of information. The reason it’s called big data is because it uses all kinds of information like CTA schedules, environmental sensors, urban sensors, city cameras, social media, and more.  The star of the show is the 320-square-foot model of downtown Chicago, which is the only accurate model of the city. The model itself is impressive, but once you see it light up to visualize things like landmark buildings, potential reconstruction paths, and pothole reports that is when the model reaches it’s full potential.

Where the real data shines is on The Chicago Dashboard. The Chicago Architecture Foundation in partnership with IBM created the dashboard to present all kinds of data like bus times, historical photos of the city, graffiti reports and cleanups, air quality, and more. According to the dashboard, 2,500 billion bytes of new data are created every day. The city is trying to use the data for improvements. For instance, the city is looking at Divvy bike rentals and paths to determine potential new bike lanes. You can even view the dashboard at home here.

You can see “Chicago: City of Big Data” at the Chicago Architecture Foundation located at 224 S. Michigan Ave. The exhibit runs through October 1, 2015, and it is free and open to the public. For more information visit

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Sausagefest Chicago

Posted on August 19th, 2014 by


Fight, ladies and gentlemen. Fight to hold on to those summer rays a bit longer. We’ve got another festival fitting for the season, but the name will probably make you giggle. Funny or not, Sausagefest Chicago will definitely be fun and delicious.

Nothing screams Chicago more than encased meats of all kinds, so it’ll be hard to find a better sausage festival than Sausagefest Chicago. Brat, kielbasa, polish—name it you’ll find it at this festival with great vendors like city staples Bobak’s, Bari, and Paulina’s Market to newer sausage temples like Chicago’s Dog House, Haute Sausage, and Gilbert’s Craft Sausages. Make sure to try some of the more exotic meats from Chicago’s Dog House or the classic polish from Bobak’s.

Along with the sausages, the festival has encouraged visitors to support the Wounded Warrior Project. Instead of the typical hot dog eating contest, Sausagefest Chicago is encouraging Sausage King contestants to raise money for the charity where the person with the most money raised will win an ample prize package.

Of course, any summer festival isn’t complete without some music and this one has a Midwest focus. The headliner Friday night are Michigan natives and 90′s favorite The Verve Pipe, and on Saturday Chicago singer-songwriter Michael McDermott will grace the stage. Sunday is an all-country music day with Suburban Cowboys and the Jacob Martin Band.

Sausagefest Chicago runs Friday, Aug. 22 through Sunday, Aug. 24 at St. Michael’s in Old Town located at 1633 N. Cleveland Ave. For more information visit


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Video: Vera, Great American Lobster Fest, and Amy’s Candy Bar

Posted on August 13th, 2014 by

Gwendolyn Ramsey, concierge at the Trump International Hotel and Tower, is this week’s concierge correspondent and shares her top three picks for things to do around town.

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