20 free things to do in Chicago this week | August 23-29


Netherfriends Photograph: Glenn Ross

It's certainly a week for festivals, whether they're dance-themed, art-themed or food-centric.  And since it's the last full week of August, which is the last full month of summer, which means the fest season is nearing its end, there's good reason to join in on the celebrations. Hell, there's always good reason to try a new kind of food or explore some local artwork. Enjoy!

Thursday 23
Made in Chicago: World Class Jazz
6:30pm, Millennium Park
Drummer and Elastic regular Frank Rosaly and friends perform his original work that celebrates his Puerto Rican heritage. With vocalist Jaap Blonk, bassist Nathan McBride, guitarist/cuatro player Alex Farha, trombonists Jeb Bishop and Nick Broste and others.

Jonathan Tropper
7pm, Anderson's Bookshop
Tropper (This Is Where I Leave You) reads from his latest novel, One Last Thing Before I Go.

Chicago Dancing Festival: "Dancing Under the Stars"
7pm, The Pritzker Pavilion (Millennium Park)
You dictate the schedule, as Chicago Dancing Festival partners with SummerDance Chicago to bring polka dancing lessons to the masses, followed by a live musical performance by Joe Walega and the Happy Hearts Orchestra. Polka lessons or not, you'll get a chance to dance with that special someone under the stars in Grant Park.

Bowie Ball
9pm, Rainbo Club
Always one to take the DJ path less traveled, Chicago Suicide Club's Heaven Malone debuts Chicago's first Bowie Ball, a glam-tastic celebration of the Thin White Duke's catalog and influences. Dandies rejoice.


Friday 24
Taste of Latin America
5-10pm, Armitage & Central Park Aves
This inaugural food and wine fest hopes to transport you South of the Border to the food and culture of Central and South America.

Translating Thani Al-Suwaidi's The Diesel
7pm, The Book Cellar

A panel of translators discusses William Hutchins's translation of Emirati novelist Thani Al-Suwaidi's book, The Diesel.

Snapshots Play Festival
8pm, Oracle Theatre
20% Theatre Company's annual short-play festival returns for its seventh year of spotlighting Chicago's female playwrights and directors.

Saturday 25
Taste of Greece
12pm-11pm, 100-400 S. Halsted Street
While Taste of Grease may describe most summer festivals, this celebration of Greek food, music and dancing will still sate your appetite.

The Paper Machete
3pm, Horseshoe
Former TOC Theater editor Christopher Piatt hosts this weekly "live magazine," a cavalcade of culture, politics and wit featuring journalists, actors, comedians and musicians offering idiosyncratic reports on the news of the day.

10pm, Cole's
Tribal percussion! Dreamy vox! Afro-pop cribs! Netherfriends' undeniable resemblance to a who's-who of fashionable indie aside, we half admire main ‘Friend Shawn Rosenblatt's further desire to go aggressively high-concept.


Sunday 26
Bucktown Arts Fest
11am-7pm, Senior Citizens Park
What began as four neighborhood artists cobbling together an art fair has turned into this 26th annual festival offering art, music, poetry, theater and dance.

Loops and Variations: John Luther Adams
5:30pm, The Pritzker Pavilion (Millennium Park)
Chiming in at 80 minutes, Adams’s 2009 opus is an immense, luminous paean to nature (Inuksuit was unveiled in a Canadian forest) intended to be experienced outdoors, and scored for an unusual range of instruments including air horns, gongs and glockenspiels. 

What a Fool Believes
10pm, Rodan
Hipster DJs, known to bang it out from Evil Olive to Cobra Lounge to Debonair, Brock, Dan Dwyer, Johnny Walker and PHNM leave the heavy-hitting stuff at home for a night of smooth yacht-rock jams.


Monday 27
Upstanders: Portraits of Courage
9am-9pm, Harold Washington Library Center
This multimedia exhibition from the national education nonprofit Facing History and Ourselves spotlights 12 groups and individuals creating change. Among them are freshmen Elizabeth Adebiyi, Jacques Agbobly and Diamond Lenoir, who spearheaded an anti-bullying and LGBT-awareness assembly at their middle school.

"The Science of Sleep" Screening
8pm, Transistor
Dir. Michel Gondry. 2006.105mins. In English and subtitled French and Spanish. Gondry's bittersweet fantasia offers something close to an auto-critique, introducing a surrogate romantic dreamer (Gael García Bernal) whose childlike whimsy is slowly revealed to be a self-destructive form of arrested development. Charlotte Gainsbourg is the neighbor who tries to make a connection with this man-child. The papier-mâche special effects are magical.


Tuesday 28
Buddy Guy: Speakin' of the Blues
6pm, Harold Washington Library Center
Buddy Guy ditches the six strings for pen and ink in this discussion of his life and autobiography, When I Left Home: My Story.

Anne Elizabeth Moore
6:30pm, HJB Photo
Moore (Cambodian Grrrl, Unmarketable) discusses her new photography book, Hip Hop Apsara, about the changing culture of Cambodia.

Mariachi Divas
6:30pm, The Pritzker Pavilion (Millennium Park)
To honor the 25th anniversary of the National Museum of Mexican Art, Millennium Park hosts the Grammy Award–winning, 15-piece ensemble of lady mariachi masters, gratis.

Wednesday 29
"Witness" Screening
1pm, 7:30pm, Northbrook Public Library
Dir. Peter Weir. 1985. 112mins. Aussie auteur Weir came to Hollywood to make this Oscar-winning drama about a policeman (Harrison Ford, in one of his warmest performances) protecting a young witness in Amish country. The director has never looked back.

"Murmur of the Heart" Screening
8pm, Comfort Station
Dir. Louis Malle. 1971. 118mins. In French with subtitles.
Malle makes his own 400 Blows, kicking around with a 14-year-old surrogate in the years following the second World War. Funnier and somewhat more cheerful than Truffaut's coming-of-age story, Murmur also affords its slightly older protagonist a sex life—though it's colored, unmistakably, by incestuous desire.

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