Where to Celebrate Cinco de Mayo in Chicago

It has been a while since I last posted, but I am back to tell you where to celebrate the next big holiday in Chicago. Historically, Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican holiday that commemorates the victory of Mexico over France in the battle of Puebla in 1862. This holiday, however, is more popular in the United States than in Mexico. Why? Changing demographics and the enormous repercussion this victory had on the outcome of the U. S. Civil War. Some historians state that had Mexico not defeated the French in Puebla, France would have gone to the aid of the Confederacy in the U.S. Civil War and the United States’ destiny would have been different. Nowadays, Cinco de Mayo’s historical significance got lost in time and the holiday is more of a cultural celebration of everything Mexican and and an excuse to party than anything else. 

Chicago holds one of the largest Mexican-American communities in the country and the city offers many choices to celebrate on May 5. However, out of all those options, my recommendation is to network and socialize with a great organization that will be hosting a huge Mexican-American celebration in Chicago: the Cinco de Mayo event put on by HispanicPro at the Godfrey Hotel. HispanicPro is the premier networking organization for Hispanic professionals in Illinois and the largest producer of networking events targeting the Hispanic professional community in Chicago. It’s free to join, you get access to some of the coolest venues in Chicago and meet interesting people from different professions. I was invited to their April event at Ronero, and while enjoying some light food and beverages, I had an interesting conversation with the president of the Chicago Symphony Latino Alliance (CSLA). CSLA is another great organization that hosts pre Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert networking events with special guest artists who give insights into the evening’s concert. I learned a lot about their membership (it’s free!) and some of the interesting events they offer. If HispanicPro hadn’t invited me to their professional event, I would never have learned about this unique experience from CSLA. HispanicPro functions are not only great for networking, professional tips, and discovering unique opportunities, they’re also festive events to attend. The music and the conga player at the end of the event I attended had many of us going to the networking floor and turning it into a dance floor. This organization definitely strikes the perfect balance between function and fun. If you want to find out more about them and their upcoming Cinco de Mayo event, visit their website.

A couple of days later, on May 7 at noon, head to the Cinco de Mayo Parade in Little Village, one of the signature Mexican neighborhoods in Chicago and home to more people of Mexican ancestry than any other community in the Midwest. It is one of the largest Cinco de Mayo celebrations in the city. The parade goes from Cermak Rd. and Damen Ave to Marshall Blvd. By the way, did you know that Little Village retail strip is the second highest grossing shopping district in Chicago after glamourous Michigan Avenue? Now that you know, on Cinco de Mayo, let’s raise our Margaritas and make a toast for the brave Mexican and Mexican-American people who contributed and keep contributing to the greatness of the United States of America.



Recommended for this weekend: Hot Etsu Taiko and On Ensemble Japanese Drumming Show

Ho Etsu Taiko Rotations

Like drums? Then you will love Ho Etsu Taiko Japanese Drum Ensemble explosive new show titled  ROTATIONS, a collaborative performance celebrating Japanese taiko-based music in America.  Ho Etsu Taiko invites Los Angeles’ innovative On Ensemble to join the stage and share original material that expresses the development of taiko (Japanese ensemble drumming) as a performance art.  The two ensembles, each with different approaches and influences, will play new compositions as well as each ensemble’s own music.

Ho Etsu Taiko draws from traditional Japanese musical styles and a broad variety of contemporary music to create a uniquely Chicago sound with global roots.  Ho Etsu means ‘a way to spread joy’, and this idea centers their philosophy. They bring a bright, energizing sound to the stage to infuse taiko’s cultural legacy with new vitality, bridging the tradition through fresh experiences and influences.

 On Ensemble has made a name for itself by infusing the powerful rhythms of taiko with overtone singing, odd meter grooves and soaring melodies. On Ensemble is supported by one of Japan’s most important traditional-culture bearers, Miyamoto Unosuke Shoten, instrument maker to the emperor of Japan. This support empowers On Ensemble to utilize authentic, rare Japanese instruments in its fearless exploration of taiko.

Here is a sneak peek of ROTATIONS:

Show Details

Athenaeum Theatre Main Stage
2936 N. Southport Avenue
Chicago, IL 60657


Saturday, October 3 at 7 pm

Sunday, October 4 at 2 pm


$22-$27 Reserved Seating

Box Office: 773-935-6875

Online at www.athenaeumtheatre.org/rotations

Video of Dance Flashmob at Novalima Concert in Chicago

We did it again! Our dance flashmob during Novalima’s concert at Clark Street Wold Music Festival  was a lot of fun and here is the video to prove it. Thanks to everyone who participated, and specially to Milagros Guerrero Ormeño, lead singer of the Peruvian dance band, Novalima, for being our accomplice!

Do you have any ideas for another flashmob? Leave your comment here. We want to hear it!

Must see this weekend: Red Bull Flying Bach Chicago

Who would’ve thought that Bach and breakdance could get along so well? Well, the four time world champion breakdance crew Flying Steps along with opera director Christoph Hegel thought they could, and gave birth to an explosive, creative,  and fun show that will have you scream with excitement at the end of it.   Coming all the way from Germany, this production is the ultimate clash of cultures, with bboys/breakdancers literary “flying” to the music of Johann Sebastian Bach being played live on piano and harpsichord or with some cool electronic beats.

I went to the opening show last night and we had a standing and screaming ovation! You should go, even if you are not into breakdance or Bach. This clash is unique! The dancers are very talented and will make you wonder how they are able to defy gravity and every other natural law.  This a 90 minute show but come early, because the lobby experience is pretty cool too. I took this picture before the show:

Convinced? Then buy your tickets at  www.redbull.com/flyingbach

Photo credit: NYP photography https://www.facebook.com/NYPPhotography?pnref=about.overview

Join a dance flashmob this Sunday July 19

It has been almost two years since we did our first dance flashmob, and we had so much fun that we are doing it again.

Join us this Sunday 7/19 9pm at Clark St. Fest. (6950 – 7200 N Clark St, Chicago, Illinois) during Novalima’s concert.

We will have a rehearsal today July 13 between 6:30pm and 8pm at 2915 W Palmer St Chicago IL 60647 (two blocks west of California blue line stop)

This is the song we will dance to:

Please plan on wearing a white top or dress for the day of the event.

For up-to-date information, please join the Facebook event page here

Experience Live Big Band Cuban Style in Chicago

The first immigrants from Cuba began setting foot in Chicago during the 1950s, fleeing their country for economical or political reasons. Their port of entry was the Logan Square neighborhood. Many of them eventually progressed and left to move to the suburbs and, but sixty years later, you can still feel their presence in Logan Square. If you wander around its streets, you may find a Cuban corner store, a restaurant that serves Cuban food, and if you speak Spanish, you may even hear people talking with a distinct Cuban accent. One of these old Logan Square residents told me about a great anecdote that happened in the neighborhood involving the famous and beloved Cuban singer Celia Cruz. His neighbor almost ran her over on the corner of Sacramento and Palmer Square Blvd. Celia was in the neighborhood to participate in the baptism of her godchild and was probably crossing the street on her way to St. Sylvester Church. She had relatives living in the neighborhood at that time.

It seems only appropriate, given the significance of the 1950s era in the history of the Cuban community in Chicago, to pay tribute to the Cuban music of that period. Sylvia Hevia, from Sylvia Hevia Productions, had the brilliant idea of reviving the music of some of Cuba’s best artists, and thus honoring a timeless era in Latin Music. The show is tomorrow, Friday, December 12th at the Vittum Theater. It is the first one of its kind, and it will honor Cuban music legends such as Beny Moré, Celia Cruz, Buena Vista Social Club and Gloria Estefan. The whole band will be dressed in 1950’s attire, capturing the era, with tuxedos for the men and elegant long gowns for the women. The show will feature Chicago vocalists Ivelisse Diaz, Patricia Ortega, Edward Carpio and Fernando Quintero. This is a concert-style show, so there is no space to dance, but the show promises to be delightful.

Buy your tickets here


Win Tickets to Ed Motta Concert in Chicago this Thursday

$25 in advance | $30 day of | $35 preferred seating 

Ed Motta is a Brazilian musician of musica popular brasileira, rock, soul, funk and jazz. At the end of the 80´s, Ed Motta burst upon the music scene as a major singer and one of Conexão Japeri´s composers and producers. He was an instant success on the carioca show circuit and his 1988 debut album, “Conexão Japeri” (Warner), confirmed it. Songs like “Manuel”, “Vamos dançar”, “Baixo Rio” and “Um love” became big hits. The songs were marked by lavish musicality and introduced strong soul and funk components into the pop-rock scene that was the rage in Brazil at the time. It was soon clear that at age 16, Ed Motta had arrived and was making plans to soar much higher.

Two decades later, not even the most optimistic of optimists could have foreseen he would get this far. Today he is a singer and composer, plays several instruments, makes arrangements and produces music in many different countries. In his own style, while remaining loyal to funk-soul, he mixes influences that vary from jazz to popular Brazilian music, from Hollywood film soundtracks to rock, from classical music to American standards, from bossa nova to reggae. The result of this melting pot of references has already been recognized all over the world and acknowledged in recent tours across Europe, Japan, the United States and South America. Inside studios or on stage, Ed has also played with names such as Roy Ayers, Chucho Valdés, Jean-Paul “Bluey” Maunick (leader of Incógnito), Ryuichi Sakamoto, Paul Griffin, Bernard Purdie, Bo Diddley, Ed Lincoln, Miltinho, Mondo Grosso, Marcos Valle, João Donato, Dom Salvador, among many others.

Besides music and the stage, Ed has always kept up an online column in “Veja” magazine and presents the weekly radio show “Empoeirado” (on Monday nights, at 8 PM), when he plays rarities from his vast collection of rare vinyl records on São Paulo´s Rádio Eldorado FM (that can also be heard on his site).

Ed’s newest album AOR has been one of the most intricate records he’s ever made. In his own words:

“The mixing rate, for instance, was of one week per song. On most records, especially in Brazil, one day is set aside for each song. I used to work with 2, 3 days. One of the greatest talents that I’ve ever encountered in sound engineering, MarioLeo, was the technician in charge. A shining sound is what you want in AOR culture, just like an extremely low bass is in a reggae recording. In the world of pop music, politeness is wrongly taken for coldness, mannerism. In AOR, technical perfection is a virtue, as in jazz and classical music. I am very lucky to have had great musicians by my side, each one’s signature and accent is indispensable so that my arrangements can take on the life and shape I imagine for them. All of them are outstanding musicians, with personality and their own sound and style. And I got lucky: Chico Pinheiro, the bluesy leader of Incognito took part, as well as legendary guitarist David T.Walker, who has recorded just about everything and a little more of North-American music from the 70’s to the present day.”

Ed Motta will be appearing at Mayne Stage this Thursday October 16 and if you are a Chicago Urbanite follower via this blog, Facebook or Twitter, you can win a pair of tickets!

Just  send an email to claudia@chicagourbanite.com.  The winner will be selected randomly and notified via email.


Recommended: Cellist Ian Maksin New Album Release Performance September 20

It was love at first sound when cellist and composer Ian Maksin heard cello for the first time at age six:  “it instantly seemed to me like the sound came straight from the human soul, and I had to learn how to play whatever it would take”. Since then, he has gained international acclaim for his beautiful tone and distinct style as well as his uniquely charismatic way with the audience. Ian takes the cello well outside its conventional scope and blends together classical, jazz and world music.  He has collaborated with artists of many different genres including Andrea Bocelli, P. Diddy, Snoop Dogg and Gloria Estefan. He has also opened for such artists as Sting and his guitarist Dominic Miller. To Ian,  his main goal as an artist is “to close the gap between generations and societies through art, and make the beauty of cello music accessible to everyone”.

Ian is coming out with a new album titled Soul Companion. He will have a big Chicago release celebration performance this Saturday, September 20 at the Old Town School of Folk Music with some very special guests. The album has original music for solo cello inspired by  folk music from around the world as well as his own rendition of Sting’s all-time classic Fields of Gold. He will joined on stage by Joffrey Ballet dancer Lucas Segovia, members of the legendary flamenco ensemble Las Guitarras de España (Carlos Basile and Bob Garrett) as well as veena player from India Saraswathi Ranganathan for a unique jam blending music from every corner of the world.

IAN MAKSIN New Album  Release Performance at Old Town School of Folk Music SEPTEMBER 20, 8pm

General admission: $20
Advance purchase is highly recommended. Buy your ticket here:

Indian Bhangra Meets Celtic Irish tonight at Dehli 2 Dublin Concert!

How does a fusion of Indian and Irish rhythms sound? Like mixing mangoes with onions? Well, let me tell you: add a little bit of electronica to it and this fusion is da bomb! So, if you are free tonight come check out Delhi 2 Dublin, a Canadian world music group that plays an energetic mix of Indian Bhangra and Celtic music. I saw them perform live a few years ago and had lots of fun at their concert. Tonight’s show is at SPACE in Evanston at 7:30. Click here for more details of the show and to buy tickets.

If you want to learn more about the band, keep on reading. The band was kind enough to answer to some of my questions:

Please tell us about the band’s background: How did you come up with the idea of mixing Indian Bhangra and Irish music? What have you learned from this collaboration?
Basically, the band started as a happy accident in 2006 when the then programmer of Vancouver’s Celtic Festival asked Tarun (one of the band members) to “put something together.” The result was a 15 minute piece that mashed up Irish dancing with fiddle over electronic beats with a dose of Punjabi lyrics and Indian percussion and funny enough it was also a representation of Tarun’s heritage – half Punjabi and half Irish/Scottish. It’s hard to generalize what our music is about since the topics change from song to song but we do like to keep things on the electronic party tip, we find the energy created at our shows can do more than our most meaningful song. I feel the most important thing we have learned is how much work has to go into a project for it to be remotely successful and also how far a little lucky break can take you. I guess we have also learned how to be incredibly honest with each other. Oh and also how difficult it can be to write something simple and catchy!

The band has performed in Chicago before. Is there anything new you are bringing to Chicago this year?
Our set is continuously changing and so is the way we perform the older material, we’re constantly changing arrangements and stuff plus, we’ve got a bunch of new material. We’re also touring with Jaron Freeman Fox on the fiddle and guitar and his energy and playing style are sick to hear and watch.

Do you see any difference about the way cultural diversity is perceived in Canada versus the United States?
Yes, definitely, but with so many factors to consider it makes a direct comparison between the two countries very difficult, especially since there are such big regional differences within each respective country. This is a conversation on its own that could be discussed in great length.

Why should we go see your show?
Good old fashioned sweat-up-a-storm kinda good vibes!

Photo credit: Josli Rockafella The Commodore, Vancouver, BC (2011)
Photo credit: Josli Rockafella The Commodore, Vancouver, BC (2011)

Free Public World Cup Viewing Parties in Chicago

Chicago is cheering for the US Soccer Team
Chicago is cheering for the US Soccer Team

Do you want to experience the World Cup but are not able to go to Brazil? No problem. Chicago’s got you covered! Did you know that the United States Soccer Federation headquarters are located here? To us Chicagoans, this translates into three free public 2014 FIFA World Cup viewing parties this month. These daylong events will be hosted by the US Soccer in Grant Park during the U.S. first-round matches. The schedule and location of these parties are as follows:

  • June 16: USA vs. Ghana (5 p.m.): Arvey Field; near Columbus Drive and Roosevelt Road intersection in Grant Park
  • June 22: USA vs. Portugal (5 p.m.): Arvey Field; near Columbus Drive and Roosevelt Road intersection in Grant Park
  • June 26: USA vs. Germany (11 a.m.): Petrillo Music Shell at Butler Field; near Columbus Drive and Jackson Street intersection in Grant Park

Also, since Chicago is a global city with residents from all around the world, the city is definitely an exciting place to experience the World Cup. Our diversity is so rich that The Huffington Post has created a map of where to watch the World Cup matches in Chicago, sorted by country the crowd will likely be supporting. If you know of any cool place where to watch the World Cup that is missing in this map, please leave a comment below.  And if you have never joined the celebrations, I would highly recommend you experiencing it.  The “jogo bonito” (the beautiful game, as soccer is called)  definitely has the power to bring people from different backgrounds “juntos num só ritmo” (together in one rhythm).

FIFA World Cup Viewing Parties in Chicago

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