A Great Chicago Music Venue - Old Town

Old Town School of Folk Music

Music is as important to us as movement, because without music we wouldn’t have a dance. Sure, you could wax all philosophical about the broad definitions of “dance,” but I’m talking about natural impulses that lead to moving with a partner. This is what we’re all about at Ballroom Dance Chicago, and we believe that the dance starts with music. You hear a song and it inspires you to “get up offa that thing and dance ‘til you feel better” (to paraphrase Mr. Brown). Even with our wedding couples who are preparing for their first dance, we start from a place of music – to have the music generate the movement and ideas for choreography (if they so choose to utilize choreography) for the first dance. With all this said, we’d like to share with you one of our favorite places in Chicago to dig deep into music, whether that’s taking a class or going to a concert (they host the whole spectrum of musical artists): The Old Town School of Folk Music. We’ll be sharing just the locations in Chicago’s Lincoln Square neighborhood, because that’s their main location and that’s the only one we know anything about.

Music lessons in Chicago:
We’ve taken vocal and guitar lessons, both private and group, and enjoyed them both; however, keep in mind that the group lessons are far more social and you’ll get a lot less accomplished in the hour-long class. If you want to get serious about playing an instrument or singing, and you want to move at a pace that best accommodates you’re learning, pay the extra for the private lessons. Our vocal teacher recommended taking both private and group simultaneously, which we did, but found the group classes even more frustrating after getting solo attention in a private lesson.

Concerts in Chicago:
The location on Lincoln Ave in Chicago has two sections, across the street from each other – the west side being the older location. While they both play host to concerts, we prefer the theater seating in the older building to the stadium seating in the new building. We’ve been to both locations a handful of times each, and the concerts in the older building just seem more intimate. Either way, if you’re looking for folk-oriented concerts in Chicago, they get some great bands and both locations are good.

Music shop in Chicago:
The Different Strummer is Old Town’s music shop. While the selection isn’t expansive, they do carry a good assortment of acoustic guitars, ukuleles and other folk string instruments. It’s a not-for-profit business, which means that the money you spend there goes right back to the school. Ask them when they have sales. You can get a really nice guitar at quite a discount if you’re patient. It’s one of our favorite places in Chicago to shop for string instruments.

If you have questions about classes or concerts, their administration staff is super friendly and helpful. They do also offer dance classes, but they’re all group oriented and we’re not convinced they offer the best instruction. If you’re curious, it’s always worth a try. And if you don’t like a class, I’m sure they wouldn’t hesitate to offer you a refund so you’re not stuck in an eight-week course you don’t enjoy.

For other information on music venues, check out our post about two of Chicago’s musical landmarks: The Drake Hoteland The Green Mill.


4544 North Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, IL 60625
4545 North Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, IL 60625
(773) 728-6000A