You Rock Thursdays live karaoke, free with drink purchase at Faith & Whiskey. Live-band karaoke kicks off at 10pm, with liquid courage in the form of $1 domestic bottles and $4 Jack drinks. But don’t blame us if videos of you channeling Lady Gaga make their way onto YouTube. 1365 W Fullerton Ave, 773-248-9119.
Chicago Underground Comedy, $5 at the Beat Kitchen, Tuesdays at 9:30pm. Sure, you can shell out a Jackson (or two) for improv at one of the more famous places around town, but the laughs are just as hearty here—and twice as sweet on the cheap. 2100 W Belmont Ave, 773-281-4444.
Rumble Arts Center classes(1), $5–$10 suggested donation. From African drumming and modern dance to figure drawing and yoga, classes to expand your mind and push your body cost less than the price of a movie ticket. 3413 W North Ave, 773-278-4441.
Live salsa Sundays(2), $8 at the Cubby Bear. Latin Street Dancing’s weekly party kicks off with a dance lesson at 7pm followed by DJ sets or live-band performances until 2am (get in free before 8pm). 1059 W Addison St, 773-327-1662.
El Circo Cheapo Cabaret(3), $10 seat deposit/donation at Aloft Loft. Shows are held about once per month, and each one is different—you might find kids from the Chicago Youth Circus, trapeze or silks experts, or just a ragtag bunch of circus performers. If you’re supercheap, you can ask for your $10 deposit back—but after witnessing these gravity-defying feats, why would you want to? 2041 W Carroll Ave, 773-782-6662, elcircocheapo.com.
Live Music Thursdays, $8 at Pops Jazz Club. Get the same quality and ambience you’d expect at Pops for almost half off the cover you’d pay on Friday and Saturday nights at this weekly party. 601 N State St, 312-266-7677.
The Saturday Series, $5 suggested donation at Chicago Dramatists. Theater buffs and cheapskates alike can enjoy staged readings and discussions of plays-in-progress during a weekly series at 2pm that features work by resident playwrights as well as up-and-coming talent. 1105 W Chicago Ave, 312-633-0630, chicagodramatists.org.
Dance Dance Party Party(4), $5 at Perceptual Motion Dance Studio, Wednesdays and Sundays. Gals can dance to their hearts’ delight without worrying about getting hit on by sleazy dudes at this twice-weekly women-only jam. Sorry, guys. 4057 N Damen Ave, ddppchicago.wordpress.com.
Practice Space concerts, $5–$10 at Schubas(5), Mondays. The musicians performing in this weekly residency series change every month, but the music is always top-notch—and some bands even offer special deals and giveaways. Past prizes have included CDs and vegan cupcakes. 3159 N Southport Ave, 773-525-2508.
Jazz Jam(6), $5 at the Velvet Lounge, Sundays. The South Loop gets jazzy during this weekly jam session featuring Isaiah Spencer, Kevin Nabors, Sayid Chrisberg, Scott Hesse and Junius Paul. 67 E Cermak Rd, 312-791-9050.
Belmont Burlesque Revue, $10 at the Playground Theater, most Saturdays at midnight. The late-night bump-n-grind scene doesn’t get any sexier than this revue from the city’s best burlesque performers. 3209 N Halsted St, 773-556-8238.
A layoff last year pushed Amy Hayden, a professional writer, obsessive bargain hunter and perpetual grad student (she recently racked up a second MA, in linguistics), to parlay her deal-finding talents into CheapFreeChicago.com. The cheapskate mecca went live last summer with bargains in travel, music, theater, nightlife and other means of passing time on a dime.