- Posted March 4, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
What do you love about Chicago?
The city that built House….music
These Boom Xers saw the birth of Soul Music, FM radio stations, Personal Computers, Video recorders, "On TV",
and the car stereo cassette player. They saw a man walk on the moon and could perhaps remember Apollo 13. Yet they were too young to fully grasp Nixon's resignation, Patti Hearst trial, Ford's pardon and not yet old enough to go to the Disco to dance away the stress of the times like their older sisters and brothers. They saw Saturday Night fever and Grease, but would perhaps better relate to the anarchy of the movie Fame. Generation Boom X saw all of this and wanted to be free as well. They wanted their own blend of music that had the racial identify of soul, a political gravity of protest pop/rock, the fun and freedom of disco, and the shock/rebellion punk. This music which came out of the mainly middle class parts of South side Chicago. Neighborhoods like South shore, Kenwood, Jackson Park, the Highlands, Hyde Park, the Valley and Pill Hill. The students from Mendel, Kenwood High, Francis Parker, U High, Quigley South, Longwood, Unity, Brother Rice, Seton,
St. Ignatius all were jamming to a beat that had surfaced at the Death of disco and the early dawn of Protest Rap. The DJ who birthed this interactional art form is New York Native Chicago transplant Frankie Knuckles (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frankie_Knuckles). The man who blended Gospel vocals, Disco and Soul beats into long playing trans-like music sets, landed in Chicago and worked the crowd at a gay dance bar called simple U.S. Studios aka the Warehouse. From him we now know the music as 'House music" (http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/273088/house)
Once the youth of late 70s Chicago got their hands on it the secret was out. (pun intended) From this small gay men’s dance club the Warehouse http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warehouse_(nightclub) House music spread all over the south side. It allowed for this overwhelmingly straight middle class youth group to shut out the pressures of being expected to excel in the post 60s civil rights America. Turn down the volume of news reports covering the street violence brought about by the re-emergence of Chicago street gang leaders like Jeff Fort (http://www.biography.com/people/jeff-fort-578620) and yet turn up the volume of this up-tempo up lifting new musical art form. The young DJs who went to clubs like the Warehouse and observed the techniques Knuckles found that the magic was not only the music, but also the skills of the DJ. They brought these techniques to the house parties that dotted the south side. From Pill Hill to Kenwood house parties started to see a new type of DJ and music. When the area high schools threw parties and booked these young (high school aged DJs) Even small teen groups like the Doctors, the Secretaries, employed this new type of House music Dj when they threw parties to make a little money. House music became the growing identity of this Black Chicago Boom X segment. House was in demand. Life happened for the Gen Boomer X crowd. The demands placed on them to go to college and achieve, achieve, achieve. We/they were the recipients of the 60s struggle. They were the living blood of Emit Till and the words of Jessie Jackson. The Rev. Jackson's rally chant "I am somebody" was fresh on their minds and they knew now was the time for Black American youth to step up. They were the youth that would one day propel another Black Boom Xer to the White House. They grew up went off to college, to work, to raising families, owning businesses, electing African Presidents and First Ladies from Chicago etc., etc. Yet the music they helped launch into the main stream was also doing its thang'. It was helping Frankie Knuckles make a name and a booming music production company. It helped that Chicago DJs like Jessie Saunders (http://www.discogs.com/artist/2751-Jesse-Saunders) find commercial acceptance for the House beat. Saunders produced 'On and on' what is considered the first House music hit. Larry Levan was back in New York reaching people at the Paradise club. While other DJs were headed off to Europe and points beyond with this American sound born in Chicago. On into the 80s and 90s the beat of House has become the beat of World dance music. House gave birth to Techno, Acid House, Progressive House, etc. Groups such as Daf Punk take much of their drive from Disco and House. Lady Gaga's "Marry the Night", will.i.am and Britney Spears "Scream and Shout", and back to Madonna’s mega classic Vogue get their beats and inspiration from House. DJs like Knuckles, Derrick May, Ron Hardy, Farley Jackmaster Funk, Chip E, Ron Hardy, Lil Louis all were disciples of House went world wide with the music.
So as we Chicagoans celebrate the Birthday of Chicago (http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dca/supp_info/birthday.html) I am really proud and love Chicago for giving the world House Music. Personally the day of the year I luv the most is that July Sat. when the music/performing art form we know as 'House' is celebrated by the Chosen Few DJ picnic (http://temp.chosenfewdjs.com) The picnic brings thousand to the park. Folks come from all over Chicago, the states, and around the world to what could be billed the largest annual House Music Fest todo mundo. This year we are all set for 7.5.14. The Chosen Few picnic is a call to reflect on what we embrace as music, as identity, and once an emotional release. It was the glue that helped some navigate their teen and college years. It was the music in the background when some Boom Xers met and feel in love. It is the soundtrack to Sat. around the house with the kids. It is the validation that the people who missed the 60s, were to young for the 70s and too late for Nirvana roc have some contribution to the American song book. The Chicago youth of WWI and the 20s gave us Jazz. The Chicago WWII era youngsters gave us Swing and the love of the Delta Blues. The 50s and 60s gave us Rock and Roll and Motown. The Chicago Boom Xers gave America and the world "House". This July we will do as we have done for more than 20 years; we will head to a beautiful South side park where we dance at the alter of House Music. Men and Women now in their late 40s and early-Mid 50s will come together to picnic, laugh, smile, and dance to the beats of their youth. We/they are the entrepreneurs, lawyers, doctors, accountants, and other professionals who will shed the costumes of corp life and take up the fashions of days gone by. Ripped Levi Red label jeans, t-shirts saluting House music, Polos and Lacoste to have fun. Some will bring their own teenagers to this House music Hajj in Jackson park.
We may have been too young to attend Woodstock or Altamont, but we are in our own way are providing a statement about the power, impact and importance of House music. Perhaps the Chosen Few Picnic is not as ground breaking at those music gatherings were, but it is no less significant to the generation attending, the music and message being consummated on this day. I love Chicago and I love the House Music it has given to the World!!! (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1HpY65cXDA)