THE BLOG
01/18/2013 01:08 pm ET | Updated Mar 20, 2013

Not Your Momma's Saturday Night

Two tickets to the ballet and a fine dining experience sounds like a great night in a Frommer's guide or penciled in your rich aunt's pocket calendar, but let's face it: Sounds a little stuffy and expensive, doesn't it?

There's a happy medium between highbrow pretension and red cups with a side of beer pong. There's also a happy medium between an Italian opera and your brother's school play.

Stage 773 in Lakeview is an eccentric space with a fresh approach to presenting dance, theatre, sketch comedy -- even cabaret. They are a newer venue and have presented a couple of great mid-level dance companies, in a theatre (or rather, in theatres) unlike anywhere else.

How many America's Next Top Model marathons or karaoke nights does it take before you just get bored with yourself? If you're like me, the thought of leaving your usual neighborhood spots and making plans to try somewhere new feels like way too much work. Call me lazy, or call me a creature of habit, but I know I'm wasting the goods this city has to offer and you might be too.

Not convinced? Still apprehensive and thinking "but modern dance is weird?" Stage 773 has a bar! And a chandelier made of slinkies! And a wall hanging made entirely of Red Bull cans! That alone should pique your interest.

Is it just me trapped in a 60-year-old's body, or are clubs that are too loud to do anything but shout directly onto your friend's eardrum while warding off cologne-drenched strangers who attempt to invade your personal space just... unappealing? Or, have you ever found yourself looking for a creative date-night idea that exudes a "I'm-hip-but-also-cultured" vibe?

Stage 773 is a fantastic venue to present some really great Chicago artists. Did you know Chicago is one of the top cities in the country for dance? I know this, dance critics know this, but why does it feel like we're often performing in an echo chamber for the same niche audiences? If you've never seen a professional concert dance performance in your life, I dare you to try it. Triple dog dare you. If you ask I'm even willing to give you top-secret factoids to impress that date of yours. If you sense reluctance from your Saturday night slew of friends, bribe them with the bar. You can bring your beer into the theatre with you! Did I mention the slinkies?! Oh, and sometimes pizza deals appear right in your program as if by magic?!

Ultimately, it's not about the space itself or the specific performances -- what this approach to staging live performance offers is the opportunity to redesign the typical Saturday night. Dance companies that traditionally see the most success often have patrons that are a bit older and have the money to spend on a fancy night out. But that's not what most dance in Chicago dance is about. Come in your jeans, buy a ticket at the door, talk with your friends (just anytime except when the lights are down, please don't get me in trouble for writing this), and have a night out on an adultolescent budget.

I have good news for you! You can make your inaugural trip to Stage 773 this weekend! Chicago's very own Dance COLEctive is performing FREE [BOUND] from Thursday, January 17 through Sunday, January 20. Thurs.-Sat. shows at 8 p.m.--Sun. at 2 p.m. Tickets are $25 general admission ($20 students and seniors). Stage 773 is located at 1225 W. Belmont, Chicago. I'd give you CTA and driving directions but you can Google map it.

I won't hold it against you if you don't make it out to this show, but why not give another show a try? Head to SeeChicagoDance for a menu of options.

What are you doing this weekend? Share in the comments below or tweet at me. If you catch a dance performance in Chicago or elsewhere use the hashtag #sharethedance and track what others are checking out!