Credit: Ryan Ward Thompson

Kimberly Atwood, owner of Elephant Room, opens her eyes for:

Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind I first saw Too Much Light back in high school. As a rebellious teenager, taking the Orange Line to the Red or Brown Line for punk-rock concerts and thrift stores was a regular weekend excursion. When a friend told us about this quirky theater where they run 30 plays in an hour, we were immediately intrigued.

It was a freezing Chicago winter night. We arrived around 10:30 PM and got in line behind 30 or so people standing outside hopping up and down in the freezing cold, getting more and more excited waiting for the doors to open.

It was worth the wait! We were given colored tokens, herded into a large room, then called by our colors and rolled a die to determine how much we would pay to get in. The plays addressed social and political issues in sometimes brutally honest ways, and the interactive elements and raw talent of the performers definitely influenced my love of theater. As a teenager finding myself, I felt a bit more found in this place.

Liz Mason, manager of Quimby’s Bookstore, shimmy shimmy cocoa pops for:

Dance Dance Party Party I’m not going to lie here. I know a few rightous dance moves. I learned them from preposterous dance instruction videos which I collect, every style from hip-hop to go-go to salsa. Oh, you laugh now, but you have not seen me bust out those moves on command, which I do in any situation that has a dance floor.

The place I like to bust them out the most is twice weekly at Dance Dance Party Party, a women-only freestyle-dance session. “No judgment of yourself or others” is one of only three rules at DDPP (the other two being no boys and no booze). You’re free to dance however you want, in any way you want, in or out of projected lava screen lights. Every session a different person deejays, so the music is different each time, and it can be anything from dope electronic beats to Bollywood film scores. My favorite thing about the whole experience is that by the end of the session, I’ve pretty much regressed into my childhood self dancing around the house with my friends in religious pop ecstasy the minute my parents leave. It’s a serious workout. And oh yeah, it’s all life-affirmingy. Five bucks pays for the studio time.

Credit: Cathy Sunu

Andres Araya, cofounder of 5 Rabbit Brewery, puts another one on for:

The Salon Series I have been going to JC Steinbrunner’s “The Salon Series,” which is a curatorial artist project that travels around Chicago. It is part exhibition of local artists making intriguing, serious work and part dinner party and tasting event. What I enjoy most about the Salon events is that they approach fine arts from a unique perspective—capitalizing on relaxed social settings and a vigorous, all-audience discussion with the artist to develop and share perspectives on work. It’s a great cultural night out for everyone, but it is also a great experience for the artists. They get fresh perspectives on their work from unlikely sources. The Salon Series has a booth in this fall’s MDW Fair based on collaborations. I am very excited to see what JC and his artists put together.