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Best of 2011: Events

Despite what my mother says, I do leave my house occasionally (and I'm not a nerd, dammit). It's my job. Kind of. To go out in the world and to find junk to write about.

And, you know, some of the junk I've found is great. Really great. Looking back over 2011, here are five of my favorite things that'll be back in 2012. So leave your house in 2012! Go to these cool things! Prove to my mother your mother that you're not a nerd!


World Music Festival

I have... scratch that... WE have been meaning to talk to you about something: nobody likes a xenophobe. Well, some people do, but those people aren't typically regarded highly in society. So when some of the best music from around the world decides to pay a visit to your lovely hometown of Chicago, you step outside your door to enjoy it.

Last year's World Music Festival was a surprisingly fun affair. It's essentially just a bunch of great shows at a few venues (Reggie's, Grant Park, The Hideout and more); a smorgasbord of goodness to choose from. From Swedish rap group Movits! to Arooj Aftab's combination of jazz and blues with traditional Pakistani and Indian poetry, the World Music Festival was a monstrously surprising success in the most enjoyable way.

It'll be back in September, so keep a lookout!

Read more about last year's World Music Festival here.

Hoop Skirts
(credit: Printers' Ball)

Nobody ever told me that reading is cool. Probably because it wasn't cool when I was growing up. Reading and stories and poetry didn't become cool until Printers' Ball came into existence.

So what is Printers' Ball? On one hand, it's an event that celebrates words in the printed and even digital form. Magazines, paperback books, hand-made (with love) zines, the whole shebang.

Printers' Ball is also a night of hilarity though. It's a dance party and a reading and a really good time. It's a lot of things, all scrambled together to make sure you'll enjoy it regardless of whether you're a book nerd or not.

Oh, and there's free beer.

Check out Printers' Ball this summer.

Read about last year's Printers' Ball here.

(credit: Windy City Soul Club's facebook)

Windy City Soul Club

Next Night: Jan 21, 2012
10pm-3am; $5

Every month a mysterious group of vigilante DJs come together at The Empty Bottle to spin great soul records (okay, they're not mysterious or vigilantes, but it sounded good when I wrote it). I don't like dancing. I don't particularly know much about Soul. Somehow, despite all this, Windy City Soul Club turns me into a soul-loving dancing machine. They create a fun, careless night, free of the shackles of the anxiety I'm usually subject to.

So whether you love to dance or hate the thought of tapping even one toe, Windy City Soul Club will bestow a good time upon you.

The next one is January 21st.

Read more about it in my Best Dance Spots For Awkward Nerds guide!

Two Cookies
(credit: TwoCookie Minimum's facebook)

Two Cookie Minimum

Fritz's Pastry (1408 W. Diversey) and Hungry Brain (2319 West Belmont)

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While I love my Best Chicago Literary Readings article, there is one thing missing: Two Cookie Minimum.

Occasionally at Fritz's Pastry (for great cookies) and occasionally at the Hungry Brain (for the great bartending), Two Cookie Minimum does a good job of bringing together multiple communities of storytellers and multiple kinds of stories. From one reader, you might hear the weirdly interesting exchange of letters between your average, Chicago gal and someone who lives in a cave (Thanks, Georgi Johnston!). Then, the next reader might make you bust a surreal gut as he details hilarious aspects of his adolescence through a story about his hair (thanks, Chris Terry!). Credit for this well curated reading goes to host Johnny Misfit (Wawrzaszek), who really knows how to pick 'em.

Two Cookie Minimum is entertaining for both aspiring writers and those who can barely read alike. Check it out!

Pitchfork Music Festival

Pitchfork Music Festival - Day 3
(credit: Roger Kisby/Getty Images)

Listen, I don't agree with their music reviews either, alright. So there.

The fact still remains though, they throw a pretty decent music festival. The festival is usually a nice mix of the old and the new. Last year it was nice to see that they had both Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore and also the addictive, electronic and R&B inspired Toro Y Moi. This is what Pitchfork is good at: offering something for the old and the young hipsters alike.

So check it out come July.

And feel free to read the guide I wrote for it last year!

There you have it! 2011 was a great year and 2012 will be even better. Do you have an event you want me to know about? Want CBS to write about? Then email the details to!
Mason Johnson, CBS Chicago


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