a person trudges through the winter snow with two Trader Joe's bags
Oh yeah, it's cold. Credit: Max Bender/Unsplash

February already! Here are some local events and other activities that might be of interest as you continue your journey through this Chicago winter.

FRI 2/4

After this week’s snow storm, you’re probably looking for some extra coziness, so hop on over to Andersonville for Hygge Fest, which lasts through Sunday. “Hygge”–a Danish word–is a Scandinavian idea with no direct English translation, but it embodies a sensibility of warmth, togetherness, and contentment. Parts of Catalpa Avenue will be closed off to traffic, and a heated and ventilated tent will be provided for people to wander or gather. From 11 AM-3 PM this weekend, the Swedish American Museum (5211 N. Clark) will be hosting a café pop-up with a variety of Swedish treats, including carrot cake in honor of Carrot Cake Day, traditionally celebrated in Sweden during the first week of February. And all weekend (today through Sun 2/6), participating neighborhood shops and restaurants will offer themed menus and discounts on creature comforts like candles, pajamas, treats, and more. Hygge Fest is free to attend and open to all.

Performer and choreographer Eiko Otake spent 41 years as part of the duo Eiko & Koma, but she’s exploring different collaborations right now, as she talked about with Reader contributor Irene Hsiao earlier this week. Today and tomorrow from 11 AM-5 PM, you can visit her piece I Invited Myself, Vol. 1 at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (33 E. Washington), where she and co-curator Elise Butterfield have taken over an entire gallery floor. Otake will host performative tours at 1 and 4 PM both days; the exhibit is free to view, but appointments are required at saic.edu.

Theatre Above the Law was ten days away from opening the world premiere of David Hartley’s Ghosts of Chernobyl in March 2020 when . . . you know. The long-delayed production is in final preview tonight, with its official press opening tomorrow. Set in the ruins of the power plant in Ukraine (then a part of the Soviet Union) that suffered a catastrophic meltdown in 1986, Hartley’s play (directed by Michael Dalberg) takes place over two timelines, as a young woman searches for answers in the ruins and the men who worked in the plant’s control room that April night relive the event every day. It runs through 2/27 at the Jarvis Square Theater, 1439 W. Jarvis, Fri-Sat 8 PM, Sun 3 PM. Tickets are $15 for tonight’s preview, and $23 regular run ($20 students) at theatreatl.org.

SAT 2/5

From 10 AM-1 PM, the Rite to Wellness Collaborative, a Garfield Park-based group focused on Black health education, is hosting a free pop-up at the park’s gold dome fieldhouse (100 N. Central Park). Not only will there be COVID-19 testing and vaccines, but you can also expect 15-minute fitness classes (the schedule’s packed with everything from “Afrobeat cardio” to martial arts to chair workouts), workshops on parenting and nutrition, blood pressure screenings, food from local businesses, and more. This event is open to all regardless of vaccination status, however, proof of vaccination is required for attending fitness classes and masks are required for all attendees. For more information, visit ritetowellness.com/events.

As noted in Gossip Wolf this week, musicians Beau Wanzer and Mike Broers will be DJing at Gramaphone Records (2843 N Clark) to celebrate the release of previously unheard Juzer material. Juzer was a duo featuring Wanzer and influential dance music producer and multi-instrumentalist Dan Jugle, who passed away in 2018. Wanzer and Broers will be channeling Juzer’s “skittering, propulsive techno” spirit from 4-7 PM. It’s free to attend this in-store event. 

Trinity Irish Dance last appeared at the Auditorium in February of 2020, but they return tonight for this one-night celebration of what founder Mark Howard calls “progressive Irish dance,” removed from the flash and spectacle of Riverdance and focusing particularly on empowering women. This program features four new dancers in a repertoire of their greatest hits, including  American Traffic (created by Michelle Dorrance and Melinda Sullivan), which was performed by Trinity at the Auditorium two years ago. That piece highlights the story of “challenge dances” around the saloons in New York’s notorious Five Points neighborhood before the Civil War, when Black and Irish dancers engaged in friendly competition. (That’s also the background for the Broadway-bound musical Paradise Square, which played here last fall.) The program also includes An Sorcas (A Circus) by Howard and associate artistic director Chelsea Hoy, which is described as “a colorful comment on the battle between substance and spectacle”; and three older Howard pieces: Soles, Push, and Johnny. The company also premieres Sparks, featuring Irish fiddle maestro Jake James and dancer Ali Doughty in a piece dedicated to Jackson Sparks, the eight-year-old boy who died in the Waukesha Christmas Parade tragedy. Check it out at the Auditorium Theatre (50 E. Ida B. Wells) tonight at 7:30 PM; tickets are $38-$84 at 312-341-2300 or auditoriumtheatre.org.

SUN 2/6

Sunday’s a day of leisure for many, and what’s a better way to spend a lazy Sunday than a vendor fair? Mission Control Arcade Bar in Rogers Park is hosting a Valentine’s Day-themed Cupid’s Pop Up, with a variety of local businesses selling wares from candles to pastries. The event happens from noon-5 PM, and all ages are welcome to attend (since it’s a bar, those under 21 should be accompanied by an adult guardian). Expect beer tastings from Empirical Brewing, and fantastically-named local sellers like Gnome Depot Kits, Queen of Dignity and Prosperity, and Seizures and Pleasers. 1408 W. Morse, more information at the bar’s Facebook page.

The Chicago Winter Art Fair is back at Sleeping Village (3734 W. Belmont) today from 1-5 PM. Over 20 local vendors will be hawking their wares including vintage and handmade clothing, prints and paintings, apothecary items, and more. Find the perfect last-minute Valentine’s Day treat—or just use it as a fun excuse to venture outside! It’s free to attend this 21+ event, and the organizers encourage you to register so they can keep track of capacity. If you do so, you’ll be entered to win a secret Valentine’s Day bundle gift that Sleeping Village is describing as “ultimate.”

Get down with some legends of house at the Promontory (5311 S. Lake Park West) today during the Hyde Park Fest Day Party. Chosen Few DJs Wayne Williams and Alan King will be sharing the tables with Deejay Alicia and Boxx for an afternoon and evening of sounds that are sure to reset you for the work week. Tickets for this 21+ event are $10 in advance and $15 at the door with additional VIP options. Grab your vax cards and be ready to boogie by 3 PM! 

MON 2/7

Two words: drinking chocolate. You probably don’t need much more motivation, but it’s time again to get thee to the Kedzie Inn (4100 N. Kedzie) to enjoy another week of Monday Night Foodball. Drop in between 5 and 8 PM to enjoy food from Eve Studnicka and Alexis Thomas, aka Funeral Potatoes, making a triumphant return to MNF with dishes like Hunter’s Mac & Cheese (smoked Gouda, onion crisp, venison summer sausage) and a Loaded Walking Taco. And of course Gingerbread Biscoff Drinking Chocolate, which seems like a pretty great reward for leaving the house. Pre-ordering is encouraged.

Okay, we know we just suggested a trip to Sleeping Village (3734 W. Belmont), but here’s another great reason to head back tonight. Do you love gourmet ice cream? How about helping your neighbors? Wow, us too! That’s why we think tonight’s ice cream social benefitting Avondale Mutual Aid sounds absolutely scrumptious. Avondale Mutual Aid teamed up with Jeni’s Ice Cream (the extremely fancy—but tasty!—brand that Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi are bizarrely obsessed with) to host a sundae-packed mixer tonight from 6-8 PM. Admission is by donation with a suggested donation of $5, which is cheaper than a sundae at a Jeni’s store. All funds go towards providing face masks, food, clothing, and other resources to Avondale residents. Entry to Sleeping Village is limited to those 21 and up, and proof of COVID-19 vaccination is required.

TUE 2/8

Get out of the cold and get into Rhona Hoffman gallery (1711 W. Chicago) today to see the group exhibition “Tricky Passage.” The show features five Chicagoland-based artists with different creative practices: Ken Ellis, Ben Foch, Gaylen Gerber, Shawné Michaelain Holloway, and Lan Tuazon. “Tricky Passage” is on view through Sat 2/19, and the gallery is open today from 10 AM-5 PM. Face masks are required for entry.

The long-running Soundtrack series at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art brings sound-based artists and musicians to the museum to occupy various spaces throughout the building, creating sound that can be heard by anyone visiting the galleries. Tonight the museum hosts multi-instrumentalist Sen Morimoto, who will start playing at 6 PM. The event is free with museum admission (and if you’re an Illinois resident with ID or someone 18 years old or younger, you can get into the MCA for free every Tuesday). Check out the MCA’s website for more details

WED 2/9

The Transformative Justice Law Project of Illinois is hosting its monthly Trans Affirming Legal Clinic this afternoon from 3-7 PM, they’ll be at Taskforce (9 N. Cicero) providing free legal assistance on orders of protection, name changes, expungements, family law, school discipline, special education, and bullying. For other issues, such as public benefits, housing, and employment, referrals will be provided. Interested parties can contact TJLP for more information through their website.

Artist and farmer Alexandra Antoine will present her work and philosophy tonight as part of the Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance’s lecture series Diasporic Foodways: Culinary Reflections in Art. Antoine will lecture about cultivating an interdisciplinary, food-based creative practice. According to the event’s website, Antoine’s “agricultural work is an acknowledgement and remembrance of her ancestors who worked the land of Ayiti while growing her relationship to land. She explores Caribbean foodways, family, and memory through storytelling and art.” By sharing personal travel narratives and texts that have informed her approach, Antoine will expand on the possibilities for culinary reflection in art. Her talk is at 6 PM and will include auto-generated captioning.While this event is free, registration is required. 

THU 2/10

Two little words seem to be ever more dear to American workers right now, as they face the exhaustion of coming back to the office with a pandemic still raging: I. Quit. Lincoln Lodge (2040 N. Milwaukee) gives comedians the chance to talk about their own horrible day jobs in the show Two Weeks Notice, which runs every second Thursday of the month, and is hosted by Jeff Kemp and Matt MacLean. Drink tickets will be given out to audience members who get their questions answered by one of the performers. The show starts at 7 PM and tickets are $10 at Eventbrite. Lincoln Lodge is an all-ages venue, but some performances may not be as “family friendly” as others, so take heed. And all attendees will be asked to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination, along with a current photo ID. 

Since roughly 2017, one of the biggest public discussions on art and cultural preservation is what to do with hateful monuments and other public relics of painful histories? It was written about seemingly everywhere: the New Yorker, the Guardian, Time, the Atlantic. (One local artist even proposed transforming a Chicago dump for hazardous waste into a site for problematic sculptures.) But while much of the discussion has centered on statues, buildings, and streets exalting Confederates or slaveholders, tonight the Block Museum (40 Arts Circle in Evanston) screens a documentary that looks at a different testament to oppression. In The American Sector, documentarians Courtney Stephens and Pacho Velez reveal relationships between monuments and ideology by trekking across America to explore where segments of the Berlin Wall ended up–and why. The movie begins at 7 PM, and Stephens will be on hand for an audience Q&A afterward. This is free, but registration and proof of vaccination is required.

A runway extravaganza of recycling and “re-fashioning” awaits tonight as the nonprofit creative reuse center the WasteShed hosts its annual DiscarDisco fashion show and fundraiser. Local makers are tasked with creating designs using recycled materials culled by the WasteShed. Tonight’s event is a hybrid: you can attend in person at the Beat Kitchen (21+, 2100 W. Belmont), or opt to watch a livestream hosted by the organization on YouTube or Facebook. Either way, the fashion starts at 8 PM, and tickets are available here.