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Sun Spots: Simply Social w/ the Buena Vista Social Club

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="163"] Just hangin' around![/caption]


Sun Spots:  Simply Social with Buena Vista Social Club

I planned well in advance, including the preparation of an FAQs page.  One key question I didn't ask and answer:  What if it rains?  I was stumped on that one, choosing instead to hold fast to the belief that Saturday, June 26th would be a perfectly gorgeous day for a Simply Social outing at Ravinia Park - and it was!!!

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="230"] Photo by Lee Bey[/caption]

Our group (predominately dressed in red - with no reminders!) assembled on the Metra platform and boarded the Party Train.  Excitement was definitely in the air!  We started the trip with a lot of chatter, along with Pinot Grigio (although people were clamoring for mojitos!), beef and chicken empanadas from Cafe Cubano.  The train ride was festive, which made the time pass amazingly quickly.

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="207"] Lounging on the Lawn[/caption]

Once we gained admission to the park, we settled into our spot, set up our tables, Cuban food and mojitos and commenced to grub down!  Before the concert started, there was plenty of time to chill out, wind down, walk around and visit - all with perfect weather.   The park is vast and merits exploration.  On this particular night, "The World's Largest Lawn Party" was taking place, as well as a dance competition!

Ravinia Park provides a host of dining options, from casual special order "lunchboxes," al fresco dining, as well as a nice variety of concession stands - all at reasonable prices.  However, one of the cool things about Ravinia is that you can take just about anything but grills, weed and crack into the park!  (I exaggerate, but there are very few restrictions.)  So, even when dinner came to an end and the two tubs of mojitos were sucked dry, there was still plenty to drink and many people were equipped with snacks to last through the night.

At 7:30pm, Buena Vista Social Club began to perform, providing the perfect soundtrack to our evening!  Now, don't get me wrong, 'cuz lawn tickets are great, but, sometimes you just gotta get the visual effect, too!  Even if you only purchase lawn tickets, you can make your way up to the pavilion and get a view of the stage.  Ravinia also has two jumbo screens on either side of the stage and those can be seen from portions of the lawn.   Pavilion seats allowed me to get an up-close and personal look at those cool, Cuban cats that comprise the Buena Vista Social Club!  It was fun just to watch them enjoying their music and their interplay with each other.

Buena Vista Social Club is comprised of legendary Cuban musicians.   They informally formed in 1996 with new and aging performers.  While some of these performers have since passed, at 80, Omara Portuonda was in excellent form!  I see the group a bit romantically: they remind me of Awakenings and The Twilight Zone "Kick the Can" episode.  How wonderful to have such an opportunity to introduce Cuban music to so many so much later in life!

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="291"] Omara Portuondo[/caption]

(Even if you are not yet a legend, don't give up on your dreams, people!)

The Ravinia Park Festival continues through September 6th and there are still a few cool acts remaining, including Sting (oops - that's been sold out for months!), The Temptations and The Four Tops and George Benson, Lee Ritenour and Dave Grusin.  View our select Ravinia Park schedule!


Enjoy more photos by Lee Bey.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="517"] Breathless Anticipation[/caption]

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="576"] Patience[/caption]

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="576"] Quality time . . . lasting memories[/caption]

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