Duets for My Valentine

13 Feb

Are you looking for an alternative to the cliché dinner-and-a-movie on Valentine’s weekend? Do you hate Valentine’s Day and would rather do something completely different? Maybe you just want a night out with the girls. Or maybe you’re trying to find a way to drag…er, convince…your significant other to try to appreciate dance and other more “cultural” events.

If any of the above pertain to you, next year, you have to check out Duets for My Valentine.

Established in 1998, and presented by Chicago Dance Crash and Culture Shock Chicago, Duets is an intimate and energetic display of love, hate, and everything in between, performed mainly in duet-style from some of the best dance companies in and around Chicago. You can expect to see ballet, modern, hip hop, tap, and more, and there’s something for everyone to love – even those who don’t know a thing about dance.

Last evening a group of us “non-dancers” made it out to the Park West to see our Fear Experiment choreographer perform in the show. We all went for different reasons. Some to support our fabulous choreographer. Some to check out the stage we ourselves will be performing on in April. Others to have a unique night out with their significant other. And some just to see a great show. But regardless of our reasons for going, I think every one of us left feeling completely impressed.


The Fear Experiment Crew after the Show



For me, some of the show’s highlights included a black light hip hop performance by Culture Shock Chicago, a passionate and impressive Latin number by Latin Street Dance Company, and a piece called Classical  performed by FootworKINGz, where the duo’s feet moved as fast as a pianist’s fingers to the music of Beethoven. I was also blown away by the Tribute to Chicagoland Dance Schools, where dancers from Visceral Dance Center (modern), Ballet Chicago (ballet), The Center for Ballroom and Dance (ballroom), and Breakdance Chicago (breakdance) all came together to dance to “Stairway to Heaven”. (Bonus points for Breakdance Chicago for figuring out a way to pull this off!)

And if the show itself isn’t enough for you, afterwards, they clear out all the tables on the main floor to open it up for a big dance party for anyone in attendance. If you’ve ever been to a wedding or other party with a dance floor, you’ve likely experienced a dance circle where the good (or confidently bad) dancers jump in to show off their moves. But I’m fairly certain you’ve never seen anything like this, when you’re out on the floor with some of the best dancers from the best companies and dance schools in Chicago.

So, whether you love or hate Valentine’s Day, if you have even the slightest interest in dance performance, you won’t want to miss Duets for My Valentine next year – likely to be the Saturday of Valentine’s Weekend, 2012.



An Architectural Gem in the South Loop: Glessner House

7 Feb


By Stephen Reginald

The Plan of Chicago was published in 1909.

Chicago is a city famous for its architecture. Just recently, it celebrated the publication of The Plan of Chicago (1909), written by Daniel Burnham, one of the most famous architects Chicago ever produced.

At 1800 S. Prairie Ave., in a neighborhood now known as the South Loop, stands a mansion you probably never heard of before. The Glessner House was built for John and Frances Glessner in 1886. Unlike most people who built homes on Prairie Ave., the Glessners looked for an architect outside of Chicago.


The Glessners moved into their new home on January 1, 1887.

Henry Hobson Richardson from Brookline, MA, designed the Glessner home. Born and raised in St. James Parish in Louisiana, Richardson studied architecture at Harvard and the École des Beaux Arts in Paris, France before establishing himself in Brookline. Already famous for designing Trinity Church in Boston (1872), the Glessners were introduced to Richardson by Marshall Field.

This portrait of Henry Hobson Richardson hangs in National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institute.

Richardson designed a warehouse for Field’s famous retail establishment. No longer standing, the warehouse encompassed Quincy, Franklin, Adams and Wells Streets, near the present location of the Chicago Board of Trade Building. Richardson built another residence in Chicago on the Northside, but that house no longer stands either. That makes the Glessner house all the more precious to preservationists and fans of nineteenth-century American architecture.

Piano virtuoso Paderewski was a guest at the Glessner home.

On the same street with the homes of Field, Philip Armour, and George Pullman (all have since been demolished), the Glessner House was one of the exclusive residences considered part of Chicago’s “sifted few.” Prairie Ave. was visited by some of the most famous names from the late-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, like opera tenor Enrico Caruso, piano virtuoso Ignacy Jan Paderewski, and playwright and author Oscar Wilde, to name a few. The Mikado Ball, a party for Marshall Field’s eldest son’s 18th birthday, reportedly cost $75,000 in 1886!

William Morris designed popular wallpaper patterns like this one during the nineteenth century.

Today the Glessner House stands as a reminder of those glory days. It also offers visitors a snapshot of what society life was like in nineteenth century Chicago. The home museum contains almost all of the original furnishings. The house incorporated the design sense of the British and American Arts and Crafts movement, exemplified by the work of one of the movement’s leaders, William Morris. The Glessners were pioneers in the Arts and Crafts movement, almost unheard of in Chicago, during the time the house was constructed.

The Glessner House is now open to visitors Wednesday through Sunday all year long. Wednesdays are free days. If you plan to visit the home on a Wednesday, plan to arrive early because the museum is limited to 15 people per tour. Tours are 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Regular adult admission is $10 Thursday through Sunday. For more information, be sure to visit the museum Web site.

Stephen Reginald is a writer, editor, and classic movie expert. He has worked in the publishing industry for over 25 years. In addition to his writing and editing, Reginald has taught adult education film courses at Facets Film School, Chicago. He resides in Chicago’s South Loop neighborhood where he writes and manages the blog South Loop Connection.

Steve is our first guest blogger at Love.Play.Travel. In the future we’d like to feature more guest blogs on local Chicago treasures, travel-related adventures or advice, and anything else worth exploring. If you’re interested in being a guest blogger, email me at love.play.travel@gmail.com

Article: Why More Americans Don’t Travel Abroad

4 Feb

Check out this great article from CNN Travel:


How about you? Are you one of the 30% who has a passport? Do you use it? Why or why not? Please take the survey below and then add your thoughts as a comment.  I’d love to hear people’s feelings on this one.

Snowpocalypse? Snowmageddon? SnOMG?

2 Feb

Whatever you want to call it, the much-anticipated blizzard hit Chicago last night.

Here are a few photos from this morning.

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A Birthday in the Sky

1 Feb

After much deliberation, I think the Round-Number Birthday trip destination has been decided! I’m 97% sure that This April I’ll be in Ireland!!!!

But even more exciting is that we may actually book booked our flights so that we leave the day before my birthday, and when the day hits I’ll actually be somewhere over the Atlantic! I’m very excited about this because depending on how I feel that day, my Birthday can go one of two ways. 1. If I’m ready to embrace my next decade, I may get a very warm Aer Lingus welcome. And, 2. If I decide I’d rather be in denial of the next phase of my life, I can always claim that since I didn’t turn that age on land, it doesn’t count!

Now that the destination has been decided, here’s the To-Do list of next steps.

  1. Request vacation time.
  2. Book flights.
  3. Hire a car. (That’s Irish-speak for rent a car.)
  4. Plot tentative route on map.
  5. Research hotels/hostels/B&Bs at each destination. – (in progress)
  6. Book hotels/hostels/B&Bs.
  7. Plan stops/sightseeing/excursions.

There’s also one other minor detail that we’ll need to work out. Leaving the day before my birthday means we’ll be in Ireland for Easter. And more importantly for Good Friday.

Did you know that according to Irish law, alcohol cannot be sold on Good Friday (or Christmas)?

So, in our planning/mapping, I’ll need to pay close attention to what will be closed during our time there so we don’t end up stranded.

Anyway, stay tuned for my potential Birthday in the Sky.

Something to Look Forward To

31 Jan

Back in 2009, I got the brilliant idea to escape the Chicago winter and actually take a vacation in February. (I can’t believe I’d never thought of that before!) I’d always traveled in the spring and summer months, probably a product of being a student for so long. But when I flew to St. Thomas and experienced 80-degree temperatures in February, I knew a January or February trip was the way to escape the winter doldrums. In 2010 I traveled again during this time, and vowed it would become a tradition.

Unfortunately, this year from January to April I have committed two nights a week to Dance Experiment rehearsals. (Expect a blog on this in the near future.) While I love being able to dance the winter blues away, this means that I can’t really escape the cold this year.

But, that’s okay, because as of this afternoon, I officially have a trip to look forward to! I booked a trip to Houston to visit my friend Rachel. (If you remember back to my first blog post, this is the friend I went to Houston with back in June to help her find an apartment. Now I actually get to see that apartment with all her stuff in it.) I’ll be going for a weekend in late March, and I’m so excited!

I was beginning to feel a little lost without any plans at all to leave the state of Illinois, but now I am happy to have something planned. And, I think I may have a few other ideas up my sleeve for the spring…Stay tunned!

A Good Fortune

26 Jan

Yesterday my BF got Chinese food for lunch. In his fortune cookie, he got the following fortune, which I took to be a good sign.


On a similar note, I had Chinese food with a friend for dinner tonight. Here is my fortune.