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Tall Ships Chicago

Through Sunday at Navy Pier; $9-$19

Find ships of all shapes and sizes, but mostly big, pirate-like vessels rolling in on Lake Michigan this weekend. In addition to boarding the ships, there are also plenty of kids activities on Navy Pier.

Phenomenal Phantasmagoria

Through Saturday at Excalibur; $20

The best way to describe this performance is freaks, aerialists and burlesque artists, putting on a show in a nightclub shaped like a castle. "Phenomenal Phantasmagoria" comes with a Vegas-sized load of glitz and kitsch, but its ingredients are 100 percent pure Chicago. Don't miss guest artists like sleek, sly stripper Lady Jack or world-conquering show-woman Madam Barker (aka punk clown goddess Molly Brennan).

Bucktown Arts Fest

Friday-Saturday at Senior Citizen's Park; free

Fight the (gentrification) powers that be with a hearty roster of local bands, art, performances and local food. The event has drawn upwards of 30,000 people to the Senior Citizens Park (at the corner of Oakley and Lyndale) in recent years. Not just because it takes place in a park is this event grassroots; unlike many such fairs in the city, put on by commercial production companies, volunteers proudly run the fun.

The Original Wailers

8 p.m. Friday at Beverly Arts Center; $25-$27

Although this may not be the Wailers we all remember, this incarnation has proven that they have the ability to continue the traditions laid down by the legendary Bob Marley. Session players Junior Marvin and Al Anderson, who both appeared on Natty Dread and Exodus, have done a masterful job of reinterpreting Bob’s classic work, yet they still manage to honor his integrity by not straying too far from the original compositions.

Taste of Greece

Noon-11 p.m. Saturday-Sunday in Greektown; free

Find Greek food (gyros, saganaki, lamb chops, baklava), music (from the Hellenic Five and Hellas 2000), belly dancing, the Jesse White Tumblers, kids' activities and more on Halsted Street in Greektown. Plus, you can learn the sirtaki (it's a dance) and possibly win a free trip to Greece.

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Fuerza Bruta: Look Up
Friday-Sunday at Auditorium Theatre; $65-$80; get tickets here
This collision of music, emotion and kinetic aerial imagery resembles nothing less than a fantastic mash-up between aerial theater and a late-night dance party. Be warned: There is no seating, so you'll be on your feet right on stage for the entire hour-plus show.

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We have to give you credit, CTA. After all the ways you’ve screwed us over in 2009 (full buses passing us by, trains running express when we least expect it, the persistent odor of bodily fluids), you think you can make us forget all of it by offering penny rides on New Year’s Eve. And you know what? It just might work. Because instead of writing up a list of grievances, we’ve been busy brainstorming how to spend those cents between 8 p.m. Thursday and 6 a.m. Friday. Here’s what we’ve come up with (not including all the New Year’s Eve events on the slate):

  • Hop on the Red Line and spend some time at the Jackson stop, where you’ll surely find a music performance in progress, whether it’s classical violin or jazz on electric guitar. Increase your enjoyment by stopping by Ceres Café for a drink with the traders first.
  • Take a ride over to the Chicago Blue Line stop to view the new installation from local artist Peter N. Gray. While you’re there, head above ground for a cocktail at the Matchbox and maybe a heart attack (the Three Little Piggies Sandwich) at the nearby Silver Palm.
  • Plan a Pink Line journey to 18th St, where the decorated station will have you in awe. Not only that, but perennial favorite Nuevo Leon is just a short walk away (and if you’re taking a ride on the tail end of the deal, Panaderia Nuevo Leon opens at 5:30 a.m.)
  • Pre-party with the Wildcat faithful at Tommy Nevin’s Pub in Evanston, off the Purple Line’s Dempster stop – the diehards have plenty to prepare for, as Northwestern plays its biggest football game in several years on New Year’s Day, against Auburn in the Outback Bowl at 11 a.m. (if you can’t bear to leave the city, try Lion Head Pub – by the Fullerton stop – or the brand-new Purple Haze, steps away from Belmont).
  • Ride the Brown Line out to Francisco, just so you can confirm it exists (seriously, it’s gotta be the least referenced stop on the North Side). The welcoming Montrose Saloon is a short jaunt south.
  • Go for a late, late dinner (or an early breakfast) at the 24-hour Huck Finn Donuts near the Pulaski stop on the Orange Line. We recommend the Donut Delight (topped with whipped cream and ice cream).
  • Brave the cold and take a walk to Promontory Point, near the Garfield Green Line stop in Hyde Park. It’s the perfect place to toast to 2010 (with non-alcoholic beverages, of course).


Got better ideas for how to take advantage of cheap public transit on New Year’s Eve? Let everyone know in the comments. And remember to check out Centerstage’s Virtual L to find the best spots near train stops year-round.

Sketches on the South Side

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If this week's Chicago Improv Fest has inspired you to unleash your inner comedian, you're in luck. Next Thursday marks the launch of Chicago's newest improv instruction outlet, the St. Vitus Improv Workshop. Staffed by veterans of Second City and Players Workshop, the Beverly-based class runs for 12 weeks at the Christ the King Parish Center (9240 S. Hoyne), with lessons leading up to a public performance in July.

For more information, contact Tony at (773) 750-3857 or stvitusimprov@gmail.com. Sorry kids, the workshop is 18-plus.

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This page is an archive of recent entries in the Beverly category.

Belmont Cragin is the previous category.

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