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The three best things to do today in Chicago

Written by
Nick Kotecki

1. Go retro

Sit back in the red light ambiance of the California Clipper, a retro bar with its own burlesque and variety show, while scantily clad performers, contortionists, comedians, musicians and dancers romp about the stage. The Clipper also boasts a damn fine cocktail menu—one of the city's best for the price—making it an essential place to visit in Humboldt Park. (California Clipper, 1002 N California Ave, 9:30pm. $10)

2. A night at the opera

The opera isn't exclusively a showcase for old, Italian relics. This one is based off a book published in 2001. All the more reason to steal away to Chicago's beautiful Civic Opera House for a contemporary adaptation of Ann Patchett's best-selling novel Bel Canto. The performance features an international cast and explores the relationships that develop between captives and captors during a hostage crisis. (Civic Opera House, 20 N Wacker Dr, 7:30pm. $20-$269)

3. Express your first impressions

There are only a few weeks remaining to see a collection of work by one of the best Impressionist painters to ever pick up a brush: Edward Degas. The Art Institute's exhibit "Degas: At the Track, On the Stage" focuses on the artist's renowned portraits of jockeys and ballet dancers, compiling a fluid, engaging study of their movements. (Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S Michigan Ave, 10:30am. Regular admission)

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