Tuesday, January 09, 2007

All night Loop party all right with me

The Chicago Loop is flexing some of it's new residential and cultural muscle May 11th for Chicago's first all night party. I attended one of these in Germany a few years ago... some great college and tourist town... can't remeber the name at the moment. Anyway, I've reprinted the story in it's entirety below. This is a great idea. I felt the coolest thing about the all nighter in Germany was attending the museums in the middle of the night (with a glass of wine at all times of course).

I have found myself spending more time in the Loop as it has become more pedestrian friendly. The progression has been lock step with the entire city. As a North Sider, their is no want for activity... so for years "downtown" meant Oak Street Beach. But real estate, friends visiting the city, and other professional activities have drawn me more and more to the Loop.

Sound like a hom-er here, but it amazes me how much free and cheap stuff there is to do in this city. Makes me think I work too much.

Josh Noel, Chicago Tribune 1/9/07

When he attended Montreal's sundown-to-sunrise bash two years ago celebrating that city's downtown art and culture, Ty Tabing's first thought was, "Wow."The second was, "Chicago needs one of these."

And on May 11, the first Looptopia will be held in the east Loop, modeled on all-night White Night events that have turned the downtown districts in Paris, Rome and Toronto, among others, into de facto art galleries.The list of offerings between about 8 p.m. May 11 and 6 a.m. May 12 will be long and varied—from loading dock dance performances to a silent dance party of people grooving to their own MP3 players (to comply with a noise ordinance), said Tabing, executive director of the Chicago Loop Alliance.

Also included will be a dodgeball game in a Plexiglas cage, a sleepover at the Harold Washington Library Center, architecture tours from some elevated trains and a sunrise performance from the Joffrey Ballet in Millennium Park. Throughout the night, even in places when no performances are scheduled, the east Loop will be garnished with lighting displays, video projections and banners. Looptopia will be capped by music, yoga and a free breakfast buffet at Millennium Park. Just don't call it a street fair.

"It's absolutely not a street fair," Tabing said. "It's an artistic and cultural celebration of downtown."Also among the offerings will be "Opera Idol," based on the television show "American Idol," and a cabaret show in an alley. The Art Institute of Chicago will have exhibits open into the early morning hours, and several retailers will offer extended shopping hours. State Street will host a procession of performers for much of the night. About two-thirds of the potential $1 million cost has been raised, Tabing said. A majority has been privately financed, though the state Bureau of Tourism has pledged about $100,000, he said. Most events will be free. Organizers hope to attract 100,000 people and for the event to become an annual springtime event that ushers in warmer weather. "People are jonesing to get outside in May," Tabing said. "Hopefully this will kick off the warm weather season."

Looptopia, he said, is a tribute to the Loop becoming less of a place to simply go to work and increasingly residential and rife with cultural attractions, like Millennium Park. The Chicago Loop Alliance, formed in 2005 after the merger of the Greater State Street Council and Central Michigan Avenue Association, had been looking to showcase downtown, and found the perfect avenue after hearing of White Night events in other cities. A "white night" occurs at high latitudes when the sun never sets in a 24-hour period. Tabing traveled to the closest, in Montreal, with friends in 2005 to investigate. He was impressed at what a showcase the downtown had become."I took one look and said, 'Boy this would be a hell of an undertaking, but it's an opportunity to show what the Loop has become,'" he said. "The Loop is really a destination, and it hasn't always been a destination."Last year, with two board members, he also visited the Paris version, called Nuit Blanche.

Unlike Montreal, where the event was held in single-digit temperatures, Paris allowed for a more leisurely outdoor pace that he hopes to replicate in Chicago. Looptopia has the city's full support but it costs the city nothing, said Jim Law, executive director of the Mayor's Office of Special Events. "It will bring activity and economic development and show the Loop as the 24/7 community it is," he said. Programming will extend from Wacker Drive to the north to Congress Parkway to the south and from Dearborn Street to the west to Lake Michigan to the east. At a kickoff party Tuesday morning, Tabing said organizers have confirmed that the average high on May 11 is 68 degrees. What he didn't point out is that the average low is in the upper 40s. The Chicago Tribune is among the sponsors. More information is available at the Loop Alliance Web site. jbnoel@tribune.com
Copyright © 2007,
Chicago Tribune

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