This Date Plan Involves a Million-Ball Ball Pit, and Other Jovial Things
By Walker Loetscher / January 15, 2019 9:00 am

You can say you’re too old for a ball pit. But given the right opportunity, we bet you’d dive in.

Here to test your mettle? Brooklyn design collective Snarkitecture, who are filling up a ballroom at the Navy Pier with more than a million antimicrobial plastic balls this Saturday.

They call it The Beach, and the immersive art exhibit will be on display for a fortnight. To help you make the most of it, we put together a three-step date plan that also includes the ideal ball-diving shoes and a new-to-the-neighborhood bar slinging hot buttered rum.

Koio Chicago Capri Sneaker
Image via Koio

Step 1: The Kicks
On this date, you want a shoe that will look right at home on Snarkitecture’s hip, handsome all-white beachfront, but is also comfortable enough for taking a headlong dive into the pit. For that, you’ll do no better than Koio, the high-quality Italian leather sneaker shop that recently opened in Lincoln Park (924 W Armitage). The brand, which has earned favorable comparisons to Common Projects, makes four models in tons of materials and colorways. We like the low-top Capri in veg-tanned vachetta leather for this use case.

Swill Inn Chicago Date Bar
Image via Swill Inn

Step 2: The Drinks
New to River West as of early December (415 N Milwaukee), the tastefully kitschy Swill Inn serves up casual bites and homespun “dranks” in the old Paramount Room space. They make a mean hot buttered rum, banana cold brew White Russians and upstyled bar snacks like the Pimento Cheese Burger pictured above.

Snarkitecture The Beach Chicago Navy Pier
Image via Snarkitecture / Navy Pier

Step 3: The Main Event
Originally conceived for the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., in 2015, Snarkitecture’s “The Beach” will convert the sprawling Aon Ballroom at the Navy Pier into exactly that: an artificial indoor shorefront replete with lounge chairs, beach umbrellas and an ocean … of sorts. The exhibit will ship in more than a million translucent, antimicrobial white balls, which are arranged along a graduated ramp to create the same illusion of depth that one experiences while wading out into a body of water. All ages are encouraged to dive in, and private rentals of the space are also available upon request (contact the Navy Pier if interested). The exhibit will be open daily this Saturday, January 19th through Sunday, February 3rd.

Main image via Snarkitecture / Navy Pier