Beyond deep-dish pizza and the Cubs, Chicago also draws attention to its dance community. This year, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago celebrates its 35th anniversary as one of the country’s most acclaimed modern dance companies. Abdiel Figueroa Reyes (he/they), a professional company member since 2019, has fallen in love with the city since first arriving to study with the troupe.
Though busy with class, rehearsal, and performing, Reyes still finds time to explore all that the city has to offer, from bars and clubs to restaurants and — yes — even beaches. The recent Princess Grace Award winner for their contributions to the dance world shares their favorite picks for the best LGBTQ things to do in Chicago.
What neighborhood do you live in?
What do you like about it?
I like that I am around LGBTQ-friendly areas, there are amazing restaurants, and I live around the corner from Northalsted [formerly known as Boystown].
Do you have a favorite neighborhood hangout?
Going to a new restaurant with a group of friends or a nearby beach is always my go-to hangout spot.
Since dancing is your job, do you ever go out dancing for fun? If so, where?
Absolutely. There are a couple of bars — Progress and Hydrate — that I am fond of when it comes to good music and dancing.
Do you have a favorite LGBTQ bar or nightclub? If so, what do you like about it?
Smartbar, Charlie’s, and The Promontory (on Sundays) are probably my favorite spots to go to. I usually come across different types of people and crowds in the clubs. I like nightlife where you can see a bit of every color on the dance floor.
When you allow a “cheat day” what’s your favorite Chicago indulgence?
I love indulging in a good banana bread pudding from Magnolia.
Are there any festivals or annual events in the city that you look forward to?
In the dance community, we have events happening all year, and some of my favorites are Dance for Life and Dance Divas. The city of Chicago is a great place for music festivals to stop by in the summer. If you’re ever in the city during this time, check out Northalsted Market Days, ARChitect House music festival, and Chicago’s Street fests.
Do you have a favorite local park, beach, or other no-cost recommendations to meet up with friends?
Montrose and Hollywood beach are my go-to’s. I visit the AIDS Garden Chicago, it’s right by a concrete beach that my friends and I sit on and watch the sunset on weekends!
If someone were going to take you on a romantic Chicago date, where would it be?
I would tell them to take me to their favorite food location! Chicago has a huge food scene, and I myself am a foodie. But if I were to take someone on a romantic date, we’d grab a bite and head to the walkways around the Shedd Aquarium in Grant Park. It is beautiful to see the city skyline at night!