Thursday 17 June 2021
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First Look review: El Circo Cheapo Cabaret provides aerial acrobatics, mesmerizing performances

Juggling, aerial acrobatics and other mesmerizing performances — all in a hidden studio once a month

By Nicole Weddington

Playing at: 2041 W. Carroll St. on the first Saturday of every month at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m.; The 7 p.m. show is family-friendly, 10 p.m. is 18 and over.

History: El Circo Cheapo Cabaret has been performing to sold-out audiences for the last four years. The show stars a cast of rotating aerial and ground-based performance artists from all over the world, as well as a hilarious comedian to host the event. El Circo is the brainchild of founder and director Shayna Swanson of the performance company Aloft Circus Arts. The company also provides teaching and training of aerial and circus arts at its 8,000-square-foot studio space (third largest in America) called the Aloft Loft.

First impressions: The address for the venue was an unmarked door in an alley. I thought to myself, “This is gonna be cool.” Boy, was I right. After checking in at the door, we were directed up a flight of stairs. We had no idea what floor to stop on and lost sight of the people ahead of us. Luckily, there was a veteran show-goer behind us who told us to keep going up. After continuing down several long hallways, we were greeted at the entrance to a very large studio by a woman who told us to sit anywhere on the black mats. We sat right up front and excitedly awaited the unexpected.

The scene: The audience was a happy mix of hipster men, tattooed women, conservative older couples, groups of women drinking wine and double daters. Every demographic was accounted for. The venue is BYOB, and because of the lighting, the studio can get hot, so you will definitely need a drink of water at the least. The doors close when the performance starts, and you don’t want to disrupt the performers by exiting when they are spinning in the air.

What to expect: Prepare yourself to enter the studio being serenaded by a talented clown playing an accordion. Swanson welcomed the audience in a shiny cat-print suit. You should be ready to participate in the acts as well. If you’re sitting in the front, you may have to throw a ball back to a sexy juggler or two. Finally, expect to be stunned by the incredible strength and flexibility of beautiful women doing things like swinging from metal hoops by their necks while suspended in the air or twirling themselves up in silk and winding down to the ground.

Final thoughts: My favorite part of the show was a rocking hoola hooper and the hilarious host doing shots with several people who were there for their birthdays. Make sure to dress comfortably if you are sitting in the “picnic” seats. These are the closest seats to the action, but they are on the floor. Every show is different, which keeps the regulars coming back for more. For something fun and different to do during the cold months ahead, I highly recommend this show for a date or night out with friends. It will leave you holding your breath one minute and laughing the next.