The Chicago Underground Blues Experience (CUBE) is an event in Chicago, Illinois that centers around the Chicago Blues Festival. CUBE was dreamt up by John Joven and Ruby Red back in 2006. The CUBE team consists of seven dedicated dancers: Anna Washenko, Shoshi Krieger, Heather Merrell, Jamison Valenta, John Joven, Will Newby, and Ruby Red. We are grateful for additional help from a number of local dancers including: Lydia Breen, and the work of previous years CUBE members.
Every year, several dancers from Minnesota make the trip down there, here are some of their reviews for 2011:
The Chicago Underground Blues Experience, or CUBE, this year was a supremely enjoyable event. Centered around the Chicago Blues Festival (HUGE international shindig), the gist of CUBE is that you can dance 17 hours of the day if you really want to. Not only that, but most of that is to live music from people like Nick Moss & the Fliptops, Shemekia Copeland, Fruteland Jackson (ever hear “Blues 2.0”? yeah, that guy), and Mud Morganfield (Muddy Waters’ oldest son).
The late nights were also quite satisfactory: gorgeous venues, slammin’ DJs (including our very own Susan “Susie Q” Olson!), and a great mix of dancers from all over the country. New dance crushes in abundance, *sigh*.
Combine all of that with no deadlines whatsoever and seamless organization on the part of the Chi-town crew, and you get one very satisfied Laney by Sunday night. In short, I highly recommend CUBE as a gateway drug to traveling for blues. It is a fabulous event!
Last month, I drove down to Chicago for the Chicago Underground Blues Experience (CUBE). I’m probably not the first to say it, but the U could just as well be Unique instead of Underground. The concept is simple: organize dances in the evening during the weekend of the annual Chicago Blues Festival, and collectively dance bomb the festival itself during the day. The reason why I love this event, and why it’s unique for dance events, is that live music is the engine, not the caboose. There may not be live bands at the dances, but the festival is the reason why we’re all there, and it changes the atmosphere in a subtle way that I really dig.
My favorite moment of the weekend was watching Shemekia Copeland, an amazing singer and daughter of bluesman Johnny Copeland, getting crowned the new Queen of the Blues by Cookie Kaylor, daughter of Koko Taylor. Koko, perhaps best known to dancers for “Wang Dang Doodle,” was the former (and rightly legendary) Queen of the Blues, and before her death in 2009 was apparently an incredible mentor to Shemekia, who consequently got the nickname “Princess of the Blues.” Cookie decided it was time to crown her queen because she felt that since Koko’s death Shemekia had not accepted that now is her time. Her short speech was an inspiration to me (all of me: dancer, dj, sometimes teacher, 20 something woman) both to do my best to spread the love for blues, and to own the moments in my life rather than waiting for some outside sign of where I was or where I should be headed. Listening to Cookie, I literally had goosebumps, which is not something I can say happened at any other dance event I’ve attended lately. My point? Dancing is part of a bigger picture filled with rich history, music, struggles and joy. CUBE is one of few events that puts it in perspective, and that alone should be enough reason to go. But, y’know…if you should need more, I’ve got ‘em.