Push the boundaries. That's pretty much the only rule for performances at the Chicago Fringe Festival, an unconventional expo of new theatrical works from around the world. Now in its fourth year, the Windy City's festival joins in a dramatic tradition shared by cities including Indianapolis, New York, and the original outpost, Edinburgh. The week-long event provides a prominent stage for up-and-coming productions, helping little-known companies catch some buzz and established groups test out new ideas. A lottery system determines the year's lineup, a process that keeps each festival exhilaratingly unpredictable while delighting statisticians.
Javaris Stevenson helms J.Inspired Events, an event company that hosts social gatherings in private and historic venues to elevate social life experiences for all its attendees. Guests dance, eat, and drink in new and unfamiliar places while meeting a mix of affluent locals and tourists at fun, chic socials. While the company certainly hosts its share of private social galas, they also give back to the community by hosting hands-on gatherings and bi-annual fundraisers for their adopted charity of choice. In 2014, J.Inspired Events helped The Jimmy V Foundation and have raised more than $100 million in support of cancer research.
Located within the Bridgeport Art Center, Wet Paint Chicago offers instructional art classes in a social setting. In the evenings, BYOB art classes invite adults to congregate, paint, sip on beverages, and mingle as they equip themselves with provided brushes, aprons, and materials. Meanwhile, afternoon classes invite students of all ages to paint in family-friendly sessions.
During the main event, southpaw David Diaz, former WBC world lightweight champion, will dispute the finer points of pugilistic philosophy in a 10-round debate with “Red Hot” Robert Frankel. Diaz, a Chicago native, won the national Golden Gloves three times, and currently holds a professional record of 35-3-1, winning 17 fights by KO. For the co-main event, light heavyweight Andrzej "The Polish Prince" Fonfara (15-2, 6 KO's) will take on Adam Jaco (10-3, 4 KO's). To pique the audience’s appetite for cobra-fast jabs, dancerly footwork, devastating star punches, and the sweet music of pummeled human meat, undefeated Russian welterweight Anton Novikov (18-0) and California’s Dashon Johnson (11-3-3) will test the adhesive on each others’ hairpieces for eight rounds. Junior welterweights Aslanbek Kozaev (13-0) and Hector Alatorre (16-13-0) will also battle. Doors open at 7 p.m., fighters touch gloves at 8 p.m., and the judges begin a slow waltz at 11 p.m., signaling the end of the evening’s festivities.
Back in 1974, Lou Conte Dance Studio was nothing more than a twinkle in Claire Bataille's eye. Nearly 40 years and a slew of international acclaim later, the studio has become a pillar of the Chicago dance community. Today, Bataille—who earned the Ruth Page Award for Outstanding Dancer— and her staff lead more than 70 dance and fitness classes every week for teens, adults, beginners, and professionals. Their regular workshops delve into the nuances and history of dance, enhancing the curriculum with focused lessons and special lectures on the dangers of carelessly discarding banana peels.