God, I love living in this city!
Last night was the 2nd annual “Looptopia,” an all-night festival of art and music in Chicago’s loop (downtown) neighborhood. (And I mean all night—there were things going on from 5 PM Friday till 7 AM on Saturday.) Last year, John and I were in Wisconsin visiting my parents during Looptopia, so this year, we were excited to check it out.
We wandered out of the house around 8 PM and headed over to State Street. We had heard that up and down State, there were supposed to be performance artists in an overall exhibition called “Ghost Light.” We had no idea what we were in for. On each downtown block of State Street (on both sides of the street), there were single performers on raised platforms, all dressed in white. They were all different and all very weird (weird in a good way!). For example, one of them was a woman in a long white dress with a veil, picking petals from a flower and looking down at a writhing pile of white doll babies, lying on their sides with their arms and legs moving. Off to the side, there was a huge mesh bag full of more white dolls, which were not moving. Trust me, it was very creepy-looking. I heard someone say, “I think this is something about abortion.” I thought that was probably as good a guess as any.
Then there was the tortured artist guy, who had drawn ominous-looking self portraits and was trying to poke a hole through one of them with a metal pick. And the female karate master, who did a series of bows and slow kicks and then used a pair of chopsticks to slowly pick up a gummy bear from atop a huge bowl of gummy bears and move it over to a canister on the other side of the platform.
The best part of the exhibit was probably hearing people’s reactions as they went past them. “I don’t get it,” was one of the most common utterances. There’s nothing to get, people! It’s art! It means whatever you want it to mean.
We walked for a good hour through this exhibit, and then walked over to Dearborn Street. Around every corner it seems that there something else interesting to see. We saw two women stacking up eggs on the sidewalk, a wandering band of hippies singing some tunes, and a giant multicolored lit-up piece of hard candy.
Then we got to the hoedown. Yes, there was a hoedown in downtown Chicago! Right in Daley Plaza, there was a live country/bluegrass band complete with a guitar, banjo, and fiddle player—and a square dance caller. We got there at the end of the square dance lesson, and then watched as hundreds of people—young and old—square danced next to the Picasso. They were pretty good, too!
Then the band played a waltz, and John and I joined hundreds of other people waltzing in the square. You could almost touch the positive energy in the air. It was just beautiful.
Then it was time for the Virginia Reel, a type of line dance. John, who doesn’t always like to join in line dances, decided it was time to join. The guys were told to line up on one side, the girls on the other. There were about 6 couples to each line, and somehow John and I became the head couple. The instructions seemed easy until it got to the linking of elbows. Somehow, John and I got completely lost on what we were supposed to be doing at that point—and our fellow Virginia Reelers didn’t help much, either. Some of them were yelling “We’re supposed to join the other line!” while others yelled out, “No—it’s right elbows, then left elbows!” It was all very confusing. John did the right thing and left the line. “’Bye!” he yelled, and I followed him, laughing. I was glad to be away from all that. We instead did our own little dance from the sidelines. We had fun, either way.
After that, it was a free-for-all dance, and the band played a rousing Irish tune and then three bluegrass songs. The band was fantastic, and John and I were in seventh heaven, dancing and singing among hundreds of others who were having the time of their lives.
At a hoedown, right here in downtown Chicago.
I know that there were several other events happening throughout the night, but for us, nothing would top this.
After that, John and I walked around for a while longer and joined the throngs of people wandering the streets, taking in all the amazing artistic and musical exhibits. There was a feeling of happiness and energy in the air. The city was just so alive.
Eventually, we went home and opened our window a crack as we watched a bit of t.v. I fell asleep on the couch, and at two in the morning was awakened to the sound of music and people yelling and “woo”ing. Yep, the festival was still going—all night long.
At 5 in the morning, there was supposed to be a huge game of hide-and-go-seek happening in Millennium Park. I wish I could have stayed awake to see that.
About 9 years ago, John and I decided to leave Wisconsin to come live here in downtown Chicago. I have never regretted that decision. And I’ve never been happier to live here than I was last night.