Chi-town Get Down: A list of Safe and Socially Distant Summer Fun in the City

Many of us are looking for ways to “gradually resume” summertime fun in the Chi, safe and socially-distancing approved. Last summer, pre-COVID-19, Chicago streets were swarming with insurmountable crowds of people enjoying festivals, concerts, beaches, Riverwalk, a plethora of dining options, shopping, and more. Unfortunately, this year’s travel to our city has drastically decreased on top of the cancellation of annual summertime event favorites. We have done some research to bring you a well-rounded list of things to do and places to go right here in our great city, all created, planned and hosted by Black professionals, entrepreneurs, and community organizations.

First on the list is our featured event, Afro-Opulence’s Rose’ Wednesdays (RW). Raub Welch, creator, visionary and host of this weekly soiree shares the importance of his gorgeous garden “in the ghetto” and why this event was specially curated for Black women only:

Rose’ Wednesdays is held in my garden, is a positive, safe space for women of color to just be themselves. RW is an encounter where my guests [Black women] are celebrated and appreciated. Friendships are created here; sisterhood is established between strangers; memories are made; and magic happens. Why? Because the women who attend RW have one thing in common that instantly produces an almost mystical and unbreakable bond – being a Black woman. The concept can be imitated, but the experience can never be duplicated. What I provide to every person who walks through the gates of my garden is authentic, not a manufactured process. The joy that I get when an event is over significantly outweighs all the work that’s put into executing it.”

Every detail is intricately selected and handcrafted – the music, the menu, the ambiance, the lighting, and the featured drink of the night adorned by fresh herbs and flowers from Raub’s garden. All of this, combined with sheer natural talent and passion for creating memorable moments and magical experiences for Black women in an intimate setting, is what makes this garden oasis, a mecca.

“RW connects my guests with nature right in the heart of the city, on a quiet block in Bronzeville. My ultimate purpose is to serve a community [Black women] that never gets served; to give special treatment to our Black women who are often mistreated societally.”  RW is elegant and romantic yet filled with a vibe that is unapologetically Black and proudly highlights the sought-after mysterious and magical excellence that Black women exude.

Raub’s Afro-Opulence’s Rose’ Wednesday is a judgment-free, open-air space for Black women to feel, walk, talk, laugh out loud and be, with no inhibitions, no restrictions, no side-eying or soul-snatching stares. In the words of Raub, “imagine a wonderful setting, lovely people, delicious bites, and the best rosé inspired cocktails on the planet. It’s like celebrating in a beautiful bubble – safe, happy, Black, and free!” RW is posted on Facebook weekly and typically sells out within 15 minutes. Subscribe to their mailing list at https://www.afro-opulence.com/.

Additionally, Raul and his Afro-Opulence product line feature custom-made designs which resonate all things Black excellence; from stationery and wreaths to welcome mats and a candle collection honoring great Black women of our past who paved the way for great Black women of our future: Coretta, Harriet, Rosa, and Shirley.  Raub plans to host more themed social events such as Movie Mondays and a Candle Bar next month. Follow Raub and Afro-Opulence on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @afroopulence.

Here is a list of more fun-filled, social-distance friendly happenings in Chicago:

Community Events

Every Thursday from 3 pm-5 pm, Boxville Community Day distributes 300+ high-quality boxes of produce and groceries (last week they gave away 550), toiletries, baby goods, and other items. Sandria Washington of Urban Juncture Foundation shared that this weekly event was started in response to COVID-19 and the uprisings to get essential food and items to the community. “We’ve been able to incorporate other things like free plants, and next week will feature a food demo.”

Every Saturday at 10 am, Fitness Saturdays presented by Boxville Chi includes group bike rides and fitness classes. All free to the public!!

Both events are brought to you by Build Bronzeville, an initiative that merges social, economic, civic, and creative approaches to achieve comprehensive community development. For more information on current and upcoming events, please visit their website,

www.buildbronzeville.com. They can also be found on Facebook and Instagram, @boxvillechi, and @buildbronzeville.

Saturday, August 8, from 10 am-5 pm, Taste of St. James Pop-Up! Pull into the pop-up and enjoy a full, fun-filled, family-friendly day of food, shopping, games and more at St. James Industrial MB Church, 8539 S. Racine, Chicago. Warner J. Pitts, Pastor. Vendors Wanted! Interested? Contact Deidre Perry at dperry324@comcast.net. Follow this and future events on  Facebook at @stjamesbelit.

Saturday, August 8, Virtual Book Launch and Reading at a Secret Location! Tammera Holmes, a past Chicago Defender Women of Excellence honoree, and Kenyatta Scott of The Violet Books series have collaborated to bring families of color “Violet Takes Flight.” This book speaks to what many Black children are dealing with now – fear. A portion of the proceeds benefit AeroStar Avion Institute, Tammera’s non-profit organization that began with the vision to ‘expose youth to aviation careers. It has now grown into a movement that has changed the trajectory for thousands of minority youth in STEM and aviation.’ Get your tickets to this exclusive online event today.

Friday, August 28 – Sunday, August 30, Christopher Lemark, founder of Coffee, Hip-Hop, & Mental Health™, presents The People’s Food Drive at the CSO Multiplex, 1301 E. 47th, Chicago. For more details, visit their website at https://chhamh.com/. Follow on Instagram, @coffeehiphopandmentalhealth, and @christopherlemark.

Entertainment:

PR Pop-Ups, LLC, presents the 1st annual Headlights Festival, a live 3-day drive-in concert. This event kicks off on Friday, July 24, and climaxes on Sunday, July 26. Purchase tickets and get more info at https://prpopups.com/.

July 24, talkin’ ’bout house music, so let’s get it as the Chosen Few DJs present House Music and a Movie (Cooley High). Featured music by Wayne Williams, Alan King, Andre Hatchett, Terry Hunter, and Mike Dunn from 2 pm-9 pm, followed by Cooley High movie from 9 pm – 11 pm. Doors open at noon.

July 25 roll on into the beats and lyrics of DaBaby along with DJ Drama, HollyhoodBayBay, Napalm, and PatrickxxLee with a virtual show straight out of Johannesburg, South Africa. Two shows; one great night – 2 pm and 7 pm.

July 26, a day of inspiration featuring Keke Wyatt and Charles Jenkins & Fellowship Chicago, DJ Tony Neal, Keedron Bryant, Slique, Uneq’ka with a Live Band. 3pm-6pm.

Friday, July 31, Thank You Chicago presents Summer Sessions in the Upper Patio of The Promontory, 5311 S Lake Park West, Chicago. Three sizzling sessions available: 4pm-6pm; 6:30pm-8:30pm; and 9pm-11pm. Reserve your table today.

Sunday, August 9, Dott Daley and DJ Playmaka are hosting Mimosa Me, Please in the Upper Patio of The Promontory, 5311 S Lake Park West. Three-time slots to choose from: 12pm-2pm; 2:30pm-4:30pm; and 5pm-7pm. Get Your Tickets Now!

Outdoor / Patio / Rooftop Dining

  • Can’t Believe It’s Not Meat, 1368 E. 53rd Street
  • Frontier, 1072 W. Milwaukee Avenue
  • Ina Mae Tavern & Packaged Goods, 1415 N. Wood Street
  • Lizzy J Cafe, 2205 W. Montrose Avenue
  • Majani – Pullman location, 756 E. 111th Street
  • Mr. Brown’s Lounge, 2301 W. Chicago Avenue
  • Norman’s Bistro, 1001 E. 43rd Street
  • Phlavz Bar & Grill, 717 W. Maxwell Street
  • South Shore Brew (coffeehouse), 7101 S. Yates Boulevard
  • The Soul Shack, 1368 E. 53rd Street
  • The Woodlawn, 1200 E. 79th Street
  • Truth Italian Restaurant, 56 E. Pershing Road
  • Virtue Restaurant, 1462 E. 53rd Street

Whether it is the community and/or the entertainment and dining scene, we have got you covered for summer fun in the sun and in the city.

Kim Durden is a lifestyle writer and owner of Divine Dine Food Tours. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram, @divinedinefoodietours, and on Twitter, @divinedinetours.

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