grown folks stories host binkey at the microphone on stage at the promontory club in chicago with a DJ in the background
Binkey hosts Grown Folks Stories in February 2023 at the Promontory in Hyde Park Credit: Angela Estrella Mejía

Grown Folks Stories manages to do the thing that other storytelling events sometimes fall short of: center the human experience. At Grown Folks, the five-minute stories from Chicagoans who represent a variety of stages of life, backgrounds, and perspectives are always real accounts from daily life. Each night has a loose theme, but mainly nonprofessional and unrehearsed tellers sign up when doors open so you really have no idea what you’re going to hear. 

The series started in 2010 as a regular evening event at the store and community space Silver Room and is now on its 13th year of monthly live storytelling, recently holding court at the Promontory in Hyde Park. Some of the best tellers are first-timers from the audience who are moved by the experience to tell everyone a real story from their own lives. Unlike some of the bigger storytelling nights, you won’t hear the same five stories in a row from recently jilted-in-love graduate students here. Sure, maybe there will be one sad grad, but they’re likely to be followed by an electrician with a funny story about his mom. Or you could hear from an elder with a disarmingly complicated, raunchy sex memory from a recent affair she was involved in with her sister’s husband (which she told in the style of a romance paperback so she didn’t feel as nervous). “His hands made her lips . . . quiver,” said the 80something storyteller into the microphone, as myself and the rest of the audience spontaneously applauded.

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