Anyone who enjoys cutting a rug on occasion will finally have a place to do it in the Tri-Cities, thanks to ballroom dance instructor Jamie Vargo and local businesswoman Linda Lydon.
They put their heads together to come up with the monthly Geneva Dance Club at Riverside Receptions along the Fox River. The next dance is from 7:30 to 11 p.m. July 11, with the first half-hour serving as a dance lesson from a Vargo's Dance instructor prior to open dancing.
A common complaint among those who take ballroom dancing lessons at Vargo's, or State Street Dance in Geneva, or Nelson Dance Center in St. Charles is there are virtually no places to enjoy their newfound skills in the Tri-Cities. In the past, the Hotel Baker tried some swing dance nights to the music of Flat Cats, but it didn't become a regular event.
If the Geneva Dance Club idea takes hold, the problem of not having a place for ballroom dancing could be solved.
"I am so pleased with the turnout the we have received at each dance," Lydon said. "It's amazing how everyone talks to each other. Some have met old friends and people they use to work with," she added.
Dances are scheduled through December, after which organizers will likely assess how the concept is taking hold. The dance schedule can be found on genevadanceclub.com.
While a Wednesday night doesn't represent the greatest option for those who have to be at work bright and early the next morning, it is far better than the current alternative of having no option at all.
Cost is $10 per person, and a cash bar is offered at the dances, which will feature the music of Gil DeLaPaz and the Front Cover Sensations.
Uniting to raise funds: "If there's a will, there's a way." It's a great line about what it takes to accomplish a difficult task. For those in central Kane County, the "way" portion of that slogan could easily stand for United Way.
The United Way of Central Kane County recently celebrated the success of its past year of fundraising in really tough times, passing what it called its "ambitious" goal of $480,000.
The United Way assists more than 29,000 central Kane County residents through the funds donated by area businesses and individuals.
Prolific photographer: Considering he's an architect by trade, it stands to reason that Mike Dixon of St. Charles is fairly skilled at taking pictures of buildings.
Apparently, he has a good eye for all sorts of things. At least good enough for National Geographic Magazine to post seven of Dixon's photos of his Peace Corps service in Ukraine on its website.
Dixon has been stationed in Vinnytsia, Ukraine for more than a year. His photos illustrate some of the interesting things he has observed during his duty in a place quite far away from St. Charles.
Hikes and eats: It did not surprise me that Starved Rock State Park in Utica placed first in a "favorite Illinois tourism location" contest offered by the Chicago and Beyond Regional Tourism Office.
The beautiful state park edged out Brookfield Zoo, the Museum of Science and Industry, and Galena's Main Street in final voting.
I could add this about Starved Rock: If you enjoy discovering delicious new sandwiches, it's a fairly decent weight control habit to also enjoy hiking. You get the best of both worlds when combining the two at Starved Rock.
I literally hiked into a great sandwich when my wife and I recently spent a day at the park. We ate lunch at the park lodge and I ordered a breaded pork tenderloin sandwich that was the size of the entire plate.
I am not likely to get this sandwich at home, so it was a nice treat.
Aside from the good food, Starved Rock remains one of the greatest places to visit within a two-hour ride of the Tri-Cities.
It provides plenty of interesting hikes and history lessons about what went on around here a couple hundred years ago.
West band goes east: I was impressed with the West Aurora High School marching band in the Swedish Days parade last weekend. The band must impress others as well. Music Celebrations International's selection committee chose the Blackhawks' band as the only one from Illinois to march in the National Independence Day Parade in Washington, D.C.
What a great experience for these kids to march down Constitution Avenue along the National Mall on the Fourth of July.
Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner submitted the formal recommendation for the band.
Have a safe holiday: For those of you staying in the area, enjoy the July 4 holiday with a bang. But make sure that bang isn't in your hand or near your eyes or ears. If you are inclined to get a kick out of your own fireworks, even though they are illegal here, please play it safe.
And think about the National Fire Protection Association's statistics from 2010: Fireworks were the main culprits in 15,500 home fires and 8,600 emergency room visits nationwide.