Monday, June 6, 2011

Summertime In The City

Do Division Street Festival

Yesterday was a perfect example of why I love this town. I was busy most the day relaxing with the Sunday paper and some coffee, taking a run and conducting some errands. After wrapping up a few things from earlier in the day, the beautiful weather had me contemplating how to spend the rest of my day. You cannot waste what precious few nice weekends you receive in Chicago. Right around that time, a friend called to say he was heading to the Do Division Street Festival by bicycle with a group. Perfect timing!

Street fests in Chicago are quite a scene to witness. They range from artsy to foodie to rowdy and never disappoint. Do Division is definitely one of the rowdier ones, its held in the Wicker Park neighborhood which is home of the hipster. The hipster crowd brings a mix of Goodwill clothes, youth, menial jobs not requiring one to be up early and ironic facial hair that makes for a lively crowd to be observed.

The whole afternoon was one big event. We wisely decided to buy six-packs of tallboy Old Styles ($6 total versus the $6 per beer event prices) to bring in, stashing them away in our backpacks like poor college kids. Proceeding to take stock of the festival, we meandered through the crowd wearing our 'creeper shades' - dark sunglasses that are a prerequisite for quality people-watching at any street fest. After posting up here and there and polishing off a few cans of Old Style, we ended up at a bar playing some music out onto their street side patio where we grabbed a seat. It was here that things really got turned up.

As we sipped our beers, a growing mob of tattooed, mustachioed hipsters and their female versions (hipsterettes?) rocking more tattoos, ironic eye-wear and sun dresses began to work themselves into a lather right in front of us. It was a dance party from a movie, something right out of a script. As if on cue, a live bongo drummer popped up in front of the bar and began playing along with the music already on. The rhythm immediately attracted a bikini clad blonde hipster chick with a flowing skirt to dance to the beats along side him. She began twisting and bending, flailing that skirt around and preening for the drummer while the rest of the crowd made a little space for her but continued on with their revelry. This carried on for two or three songs, a scene that seemed surreal.

In the midst of this all happening, one of my friends leaned over and said, "I almost feel nerdy sitting here and watching this, we definitely don't belong. Ha ha." I had to agree and noted that we were very square compared to the rest of the crowd, but we stayed and soaked it all in nonetheless. We may have stuck out like sore thumbs but that isn't the point of the these festivals anyway, its all about getting out and seeing more of the people you share this city with.

After taking in some of the best Chicago has to offer, we navigated the back streets on our bikes, coasting home through the early summer air. Sunday evening was great but the best part may be that it was the first of many.

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