House Holiday, House Woodstock, A HouseHead’s Christmas…
The Chosen Few Festival and Picnic is one of the premier #summertimechi events! Held each year in Jackson Park, what started out as a gathering of friends behind the Museum of Science and Industry has evolved into a festival with 40,000-50,000 attendees from all the world. This year’s festival included the Chosen Few DJs with special guest DJs, Mickey Calvin, DJ Emmaculate, Lori Branch, Greg Gray and David Morales. There were also legendary performances by Thelma Houston, Lady Alma, Taana Gardner and a surprise performance by Chicago Artist, Jon Pierce!
I’ve attended the Chosen Few Festival for over 15 years and each year it is bigger and better! Like many tent hosts, my day started early at 3am as I packed up my gear and loaded it into my car. We arrived at the park at 5 am and the line was already forming. Each year, tent hosts arrive early to unload trucks and U-Haul’s full of items to carry them through the entire day! The mood was electric, and people were hospitable and friendly. Many of us see each other every year. Once the gates opened at 7am, the park was abuzz with activity. People setting up tents, prepping food, grilling, and preparing cocktails before the music started at 8am.
At the heart of the Chosen Few Festival is the music. House Music, the genre created right here in Chicago. This year’s music lineup was a journey through the evolution of house music. Every part of the genre was represented. Soulful, Afro, Disco, and Classic House Music filled the air with the beautiful city skyline as the backdrop. Each sound selector brilliantly moved the crowd giving them a great variety of the old and the new. The same existed with the live performances. Legendary artists, such as Taana Gardner and Thelma Houston, whose music and lyrics have moved us for decades performed on the same stage as newer artists, Lady Alma and Chicago Native Jon Pierce. It was the perfect blend of nostalgia and new memories. The legendary David Morales was exceptional! His energy was infectious and as he played and danced along to his own set, the crowd responded with enthusiasm. Chicago artists were well represented. It was wonderful to see some of my favorite DJs and artists from my hometown grace the Chosen Few Stage. I was so happy to see Greg Gray, Mickey Calvin, DJ Emmaculate, Lori Branch, and Jon Pierce represent for our City!!! They were phenomenal! The Chosen Few DJs didn’t disappoint. Each of them has such a unique and signature sound. They are industry veterans who have been around since the inception of the genre and have a unique ability to capture an entire park full of people and effortlessly take them on musical journeys! There were so many moments I had to stop recording because I was dancing so hard!
For many of us, house music is our life’s soundtrack and is attached to so many memories and relationships. This year I met attendees from the New York, LA, London, Australia, and China, each who came specifically to attend this year’s festival. As I say in my song, “House Is”, this genre is worldwide and was created on the southside of Chicago. I watched this beautiful culture displayed at the Chosen Few Festival this year. It was displayed in the signs made by attendees, the tent decorations, or the shirts worn with their favorite DJs names or House Music Lyrics. Now in its 29th year, the Chosen Few Festival is an integral part of dance and house music culture. Its impact is felt globally and is visible at events such as this.
One of the most special aspects of the Chosen Few Festival is the sense of community that I feel. There are a handful of events that bring us together and show the beauty of our history, music and culture. The Chosen Few Festival is so much more than a day long party or even a weekend long series of events. The Chosen Few Festival is an opportunity to showcase the beauty of our community; the Chicago they don’t want you to believe exists. It is a park packed with 40,000 plus people filled with love, comradery and peace. Mainstream media would have you believe the southside of Chicago is filled with nothing but violence, but the reality is, we are so much more. We are peaceful, fun loving people who come out every year to dance and fellowship with friends. In 29 years in a park full of people eating and drinking the entire day, there has never been one violent incident. It’s a family affair, people enjoy the Picnic and Festival with their spouses, partners and children. It’s a reunion where old college, Greek and high school classmates reunite. It’s a place where we all connect.
The impact of the culture was on full display in seeing some of Chicago’s favorites who come to enjoy the festivities as well. Local politicians and entertainers mingled backstage with house music artists and danced to the music. The Chosen Few Festival and Picnic bring people together from so many different backgrounds. It is inclusivity and community. A jammed packed park full of people of different races, identities, sexual orientations and ethnicities…from the stage to the crowd, The Chosen Few Festival is what diversity looks like!
United by the music, we gather together to celebrate, dance and make new memories in our beautiful city in summertime. It has been my honor and pleasure to serve as the Official Blogger for the Chosen Few Festival and Picnic this year. I hope you have enjoyed the live coverage, reviews and interviews over the past few weeks! Special thanks to the Chosen Few DJs and staff for once again putting on such a high quality and incredible event for the entire city to enjoy and for the world to see! This is the Chicago I know and love.
Music…Culture and Community…that’s what it’s all about.
Until next time,
See ya on a dance floor!