This has to be my favorite place to dance on a Wednesday night. I hold so many memories, new friendships, and silly dance floor moments at “Tropical Nights” at Vintage Bar. For $10, Latin Street Music & Dancing hosts weekly Latin dancing at Vintage, with dance lessons starting around 7pm. They facilitate beginner lessons, typically an hour long, to warm up the crowd and help shy dancers break out of their shell. Participants have the option of rotating partners or sticking with a buddy. Every week, Vintage is filled with people ready to groove. Dancers travel from various zip codes, outside of Chicago, and even out-of-state to dance.
Latin Street creates a friendly environment where all dancing skills are embraced and welcomed by community members. People casually approach one another and encourage beginners to just “enjoy the music” while trying their best. I’ve seen so many beginners initially reject dances but slowly gain confidence after confessing their insecurities to the dance partner. It’s an amazing sight to witness. I’ve also seen gender and age inclusivity on the dance floor. Tropical night is a place where people from all walks of life come together to simply share a moment on the dance floor.
If dancing isn’t your thing, you’ll enjoy seeing all of the amazing dancing warm your heart and possibly spark your dancing curiosity. I’ve met people who later sign up for dance lessons or simply come back for more. Just make sure to arrive early to save a table because seats move fast. This typical sports bar in University Village is transformed into a dance studio. It’s truly not the same place if you return on another night.
Whether you pull up a seat or stand by the bar on Wednesday, you’ll see a smiling crowd and even bursts of laughter between dancers. Another common sight is seeing a birthday rueda (circle) take place. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s when someone is invited to the middle on the dance floor for their birthday. Usually, it’s a friend who talks to the DJ to request this recognition and makes sure to mention a song genre, like salsa, cumbia, bachata, or another Latin dancing genre. It’s possible to approach the DJ yourself, but usually people are surprised when the DJ announces their name to report to the dance floor. The crowd starts to form a circle and take turns jumping into the dance with the birthday star. It’s a beautiful sight of celebration, joy, and new friendships born.
Watching a crowd of mostly strangers come together is motivational. A sense of trust is created and shared without words as a dance unfolds. This scene is repeated throughout the night. It’s inspirational to see people come together and share a moment that doesn’t really happen in daily, mundane life. (Jocelyn Vega)
Latin Street Music & Dancing Studio at Vintage Bar. 1449 W. Taylor St. Wednesday, 7pm–2am. latinstreetdancing.com/event/vintage. (312) 427-2572.