Spotlight: Chances Dances

Chances Dances begun in 2005 as an inclusive, welcoming, and alternative queer dance party. It’s a collective of artists, activists, DJs, and educators who organize parties, build safer spaces, and support local art and activism through direct funding and other resources. Through grassroots funding in addition to robust performance programming, Chances has established itself as hub of queer artistic activity in Chicago for ten years running. 

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. Chances is a collective of activists, artists, and DJs that organize queer dance parties, the proceeds from which are used to administer local microgrants for queer artists, the Critical Fierceness and Mark Aguhar Memorial Grants. We are interested in nightlife as a format for challenging everyday systemic injustices, through providing a platform for radical pleasure and togetherness.

How has living in Chicago affected your work? Even though a lot of geographic and financial factors, as well as cultural conservatism (both here and elsewhere) prevent the Chicago art scene from getting as much institutional or market support as power centers like New York or L.A., the result is in a much more open and collaborative practice and art scene. People here are really weird and supportive and hardworking.

What kinds of things are influencing your work right now? Queer hip hop, crystal energy, queer spirituality, witchcraft, nationwide emergencies such as the rising death tolls of black people and trans people to hate crimes and the police state, trolls (not the internet kind).

What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? For September and October, we’re working on a city-wide ten year retrospective of our work and the work of recipients of the Critical Fierceness and Mark Aguhar Memorial Grants. It’s definitely the most ambitious thing we’ve ever done and we’re really excited about it! We’re also excited about doing more Snakepit parties at the Bijou theater (where we take over a historic gay cruising spot/porn theater with a queer, sex-positive party and performances) — next one is on deck for Halloween.

If you were a drink what drink would you be?  Mezcal Last Word. Classy/classic, fruity and revisionist.

How did your interest in your work begin? Chances began as an experiment to see if we could create a space that felt sexy and safe for a variety of queer bodies and orientations. It was amateur, grassroots, and very improvised.

Who would you ideally like to collaborate with? Junglepussy, Green Velvet, Princess Nokia/Destiny, Solange, Missy Elliott, TRUST, Alexis K. Tyler, Zackary Drucker, FEMEN, Matthew Dear, Yoko Ono, Grimes, Bernie Sanders, Yayoi Kusama, Janet Mock, Kelela, Kelis

How long have you lived in Chicago and what brought you there? Chances has been around for ten years this September, and all the (current) organizers have lived here for at least six to 12+ years. At least the current body all came to the city initially as students.

What do you want a viewer to walk away with after experiencing your work? Catharsis, pleasure, community and money. In-body experiences.

What are you really excited about right now? The increasing recognition of the impact of queer nightlife on political and artistic movements, labor movement happening within contemporary art,

Can you share one of the best or worst reactions you have gotten as a result of your work? Best reactions: spontaneous nudity on the dance floor. Worst reactions: nihilist trolling on Facebook. Call-ins not call-outs please!