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Valentine's day in Chicago: happy feet edition

As Feb. 14 looms ever-larger on the horizon, we soldier on in our efforts to assist Chicago’s romantically handicapped in their holiday planning. But the final installment of our series on downtown’s best Valentine’s day activities comes with a warning label: Some plans, even when entered into with the most tender of intentions, are more dangerous than others. In other words: Chocolate? Sure thing. Dance lessons? Not so much.

But the hour is late, and relationships are full of calculated risks. So read on, and remind yourself that in pursuing the following course of action, no matter how many left feet you turn out to have, you’ll have time left over for a reconciliatory dinner — and money left over to pay for it.

Feb. 14: Stepping Up

Legend has it there’s a lost work of Shakespeare floating around out there, a play that focuses neither on star-cross’d lovers nor the lifestyles of the rich and powerful but rather on something far more explosive: dance lessons. It is either a comedy or a tragedy, depending on how you look at it, but in any case it doesn’t end well for the romantic leads, and we bring it up here to illustrate the point that a dance lesson, laden though it may be with romantic potential, can be relationship poison if used improperly. A dicey proposition, even for the thoroughly infatuated.

However, like most dangerous things, a dance lesson is also a great way to get the blood flowing, and that goes double if we’re talking about tango. Lucky for you, the dance lessons incorporated into the city of Chicago’s Chicago Winter Dance series mean that whatever else you might risk by stepping out onto the floor, you won’t risk any money: The lessons, like the open-dance sessions that follow, are free. Held Saturdays and Sundays throughout February, the dancing takes place on the stage of the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park — behind retractable glass doors, naturally, since it’s darn near impossible to execute a decent dip in a parka. Each session features an hour-long period of instruction followed by two hours of dancing, often to live music.

On Valentine’s day, the instruction will come from Dinah D’Antoni of Tango 21, Inc., the live music will come from the group Tangata, and the dance, as one might expect, will indeed be tango. The day’s first lesson will take place from 1–2 p.m., followed by dancing from 2–4 p.m., and another lesson will be offered from 5–6 p.m., followed by dancing from 6–8 p.m. Refreshments from Park Grill will be available for purchase, and while no reservations are necessary to take part in either the lessons or the open dancing, participants are encouraged to arrive early (doors open 30 minutes in advance) to ensure their place in the festivities.

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