I had the pleasure of revisiting the 80’s personally last week when I went to see the B-52s play at Ravinia Festival in Highland Park, a northern suburb of Chicago. My “date”? None other than my friend and virtual training partner for the BlogHer 5K, Michelle from Honest and Truly.

Ravinia is a Chicago-area tradition. All summer long, a wide variety of musical and dance groups perform there, from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (every year!) to acts like (this year!) Rodrigo y Gabriela, The Four Tops, The Silk Road Ensemble with Yo Yo Ma, Counting Crows, Crosby Stills & Nash, The Beach Boys, Nelly Furtado, Vince Gill, Jethro Tull, Sheryl Crow, Sting, and so many more.

I was looking forward very much to this concert experience, not only because I consider the last B-52s concert I saw (in 1990 during their “Cosmic Thing” tour) to be one of the most-fun shows I’ve ever seen, but also because I had never been to Ravinia before and somehow felt like less of a Chicagoan. (Oh yeah, and because I was going with Michelle, of course!)

I wrote about the music itself over at The Music Mamas, so please click here to check that out and visit me over there. I wanted to share the Ravinia experience with you here on the Scrawl. (The pictures and video? Of course, they were taken with my loaner Olympus!)

Ravinia concerts are a different kind of experience from the norm. You can pay the “regular” concert rate to sit in the seats at the Pavilion if you’d like. It’s got a traditional seating layout:

Source: www.ravinia.org

If you want something different, you can pay somewhere around half of the pavilion seating prices and sit on the lawn which surrounds the pavilion. Picnics are encouraged. I have heard fantastic stories over the years about the lengths people will go to in order to have a “classy” experience: bringing wine (and real glasses), gourmet dinners (served on real china), candleabras, tablecloths…the list goes on and on.

I was not only excited to SEE this exercise in extravagance, but I wanted to DO it. Michelle was up for it, too.

At first we had grandiose plans of using china and even making our own little table (I can’t find a picture!), and bringing wine glass holders, like these.

Best laid plans…

Both of us have been so busy that the only thing we (stupidly) did was bring our food in ceramic dishes. TOO HEAVY to carry from the car! (Note to self: there’s no shame in bringing plastic containers to Ravinia.) Michelle brought Mike’s Hard Black Cherry Lemonade (YUM) instead of wine. We had a ton of food. She made spinach orzo salad (recipe HERE!) and brought bread and spinach dip along with homemade twix bars, and I brought fruitastic salad (recipe HERE!) and Oprah’s favorite curried chicken salad sandwiches (recipe HERE!). It was a fancy meal, that’s for sure!

Fruitastic Salad!

It was a great experience. There were people as far as the eye could see…

And I saw some candleabras!

By the way, Ravinia also has a dining pavilion and several places outside to purchase food, should you want to travel light.

Naturally I was tweeting a little bit before the concert began, and I saw that Nap Warden was there, too! So Michelle and I sent her a DM and met up with her. Michelle’s picture of the three of us is better than mine, so head on over to her recap post to check it out and get her version of the evening.

All too quickly, our lovely summer evening under the stars came to an end, and we headed for home. I had a dangerous start: while driving 45-50 mph, I needed to turn on my windshield wipers because it was so humid, and my windshield wiper popped off and scared the crud out of me when the metal scraped against my windshield as it finished the cycle. I’m glad it wasn’t raining, because I would’ve had to spend the night pulled over.

Anyhoo, thanks for sticking with me this far. Don’t forget to visit me over at The Music Mamas to read my concert review. Here’s a teaser: my footage of “Love Shack”! Forgive the shaky camera work: my arms were feeling a little weak, I guess!

I can’t wait until next year’s concert schedule comes out!

©2010 Suburban Scrawl