Fill nights and weekends with cooking classes, arts and crafts, and more
It’s summertime and the living’s easy. Maybe too easy. Don’t let the sun zap your ambition. Pick up a new hobby or skill at one of the city’s myriad classes. Remember: Learning is fun.
When your novel refuses to write itself, turn to this nurturing spot, where professional scribes teach you to hone plots, develop characters, and amp up creativity. Writing Workout balances exercises and discussion; Just Get Me Started helps you get the words out.
StoryStudio Chicago, 4043 North Ravenswood Avenue, between Irving Park Road and Belle Plaine Avenue (773-477-7710 or storystudiochicago.com).
During two-hour sessions, Kiki Luthringshausen teaches three staple recipes (Asian pantry items, pasta sauces, paella). She accommodates requests and arrives bearing groceries.
Can’t can? Laura McLaughlin can — and she’ll teach you. You provide the produce, and she comes to your house with all the equipment and teaches you (and your friends) each step, regaling you with stories along the way.
If your life isn’t full of enough drama, pretend that it is at this mainstay’s core program of acting classes. Learn the basics through group exercises, improvisation, and scene work. Meet new friends, too.
Get your hands dirty with a how-to class taught by Mike Hines, the master designer at this West Town floral studio. Sip brewskis (it’s BYOB) and make hand-tied woodsy arrangements or learn to create contemporary vignettes with tropical blooms.
Epoch Floral, 1700 West Hubbard Street, at Paulina Street (312-226-2968 or epochfloral.com).
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s teaching center isn’t just for white swans. Its upbeat, no-pressure classes are heavy on fitness, with everything from hip-hop to African dance to ballet. It even offers musical theater classes (for the Gleeks among us).
Lou Conte Dance Studio, 1147 West Jackson Boulevard, at Racine Avenue (312-850-9766 or hubbardstreetdance.com).
Just when you thought you’d been there, namaste’d that, along comes aerial yoga, which involves posing while suspended in a sling. Turns out, this kind of hang time builds great upper-body strength.
Aerial Yoga with Tracy Von Kaenel, 4043 North Ravenswood Avenue, between Irving Park Road and Belle Plaine Avenue (773-720-9642 or aerialyogachicago.com).
Take reading to the next level. Columbia brings in teachers from across the country for one- to five-day courses in bookbinding or papermaking at a variety of levels. We’re signing up for edition binding, Japanese papermaking, and photobooking (scrapbooking for cool people).
Ludington Building at Columbia College Chicago, 1104 South Wabash Avenue, at 11th Street (312-369-6632 or bookandpaper.org).
Former Latin School art instructor Layne Jackson shares her painting and drawing skills in lessons that explore everything from color mixing to contrast to perspective. One week you’ll learn to shade by duplicating an image from a vintage photo; the next there’s a live model in the mix.
Layne Jackson Art Shop, 1825 West Division Street, between Wood and Honore Streets (312-850-9630 or laynejackson.com).
Roscoe Village’s sweet spot offers pastry and dessert classes ranging from cake decorating to candy making to cupcake baking. All sessions are hands on, and you’re welcome to taste and take home the fruits of your labor. Give Me Some Sugar, 2205 West Belmont Avenue, at Leavitt Street (773-281-3154 or givesugar.com).
Conjure the days of Home Ec with this Bucktown studio’s Sewing 101 course. Once you’ve pinned down the basics, try specialized classes in patchwork pillows, zippered skirts, and messenger bags.
Raise the bar with help from mixologist Revae Schneider, who did time slinging drinks at Gilt Bar and Maude’s. She teaches cocktail-making at lounges around town and will even come to your house to show you how to build your own bar, from the best tools to base spirits.
Everyone should know at least one centuries-old skill, right? In a 30-minute workshop, wield metal tools and work with a fiery furnace to learn to blow glass. Plus, you get to keep your creation (usually a paperweight).
Chicago Hot Glass, 1250 North Central Park Avenue, at Potomac Avenue (773-394-3252 or chicagohotglass.com).
Get your motor running. Head out on the highway — but not before taking the basic rider course at this hog-loving school. In the classroom and on a bike, learn to handle corners, control your steering, and be a general badass. (Note: You need a motorcycle permit before taking this class.)
Motorcycle Riding’s Cool, 1400 North Halsted Street, at Evergreen Avenue (773-968-7433 or motorcyclelearning.com).