One of the wonderful things about living in Chicago is all the cool, free activities there are in the summer. One of these is Chicago Summer Dance three blocks from where I live. I have lived here for over two years, and last night was the first time I actually went. I was walking back from yoga and saw the crowd at the Spirit of Music Park in Grant Park, and I decided to cross the street and take part. It was incredible.

The band was Fandanguero, and they play San Jaroco music which orginated from Mexico and is a fusion of Samba, Cuban Son, Afro-Peruvian, and Flamenco. They were great. If you have a chance to go see them go. The music was great, and great music normally leads to lots of dancing.

The dance for the night was Zapateado, and it was a Latin dance you didn’t need to have a partner for (my hubby was in a condo board meeting, poor man). Once the dancing got going there were people like me on their own, couples, and groups of five or six or more dancing. I almost didn’t do it. I love to dance, but I haven’t really danced that much in the last few years. And the Zapateado was a new dance for me, although a very easy one to learn. I almost–almost–let me fear kick in and rob me of one of my favorite things to do since I was kid. But I finally told myself to suck it up. Who was going to notice one person on the dance floor? No one was going to tell me I was doing it wrong (as one other lady told me later on the floor). I was a little stiff the first dance, but into the second dance, I was shaking it. Okay I was doing more stamping than shaking. The dance is basically stamp, stamp, stamp, kick and repeat. My hips loosened up and my arms, my whole body started dancing as I payed less attention to my feet.

More and more people were coming and dancing, and I decided I needed to get pictures. So then the dance went stamp, stamp, stamp, kick, click. And it didn’t really matter if you weren’t partners. We looked at each other and smiled and laughed and even chatted here and there. I felt so free, and oh my how I love to dance and feel the music. It’s been over a year since I last did that. I wasn’t the only having a lot of fun and unwinding after a long day. Here are some of the pictures I took:

This is the dance teacher, Anabel Tapia.


Don’t let the clothes fool you: this guy could dance!

If you’re in downtown Chicago on Thursday, Friday, Saturday night or Sunday afternoon, go dance. It’s good for the soul. And free. Click here for the schedule (PDF format).