Evoking an old-school but timeless energy, the pioneers of Chicago House music threw down once again on the 30th anniversary of their namesake event, The Chosen Few Picnic and Festival.
In spite of the construction for the Obama Presidential Center taking up space around Jackson Park, tens of thousands of people navigated traffic on July 2 to attend the return of the festival post-COVID-19.
The annual picnic dates back to 1990 when it was a free gathering behind the Museum of Science and Industry. But the legacy of the founding collective of DJs—including Wayne Williams, Jesse Saunders, Tony Hatchett, Andrew Hatchett and Alan King—harkens back to the 80s, when Chicago-style House was born in underground clubs and party spaces largely in the Black Belt and east of the I-90.
House was developed by young DJs, producers, promoters, and LGBTQ and Black and brown partygoers. As the Weekly wrote in 2017, “Disco had ruled the underground for nearly a decade, hip-hop was in its infancy in New York, punk and New Wave were spreading in popularity, and DJs like the Chosen Few couldn’t resist the thrill of mixing them all together in seamless, genre-hopping sets.”
In recent months, Drake and Beyoncé have incorporated House beats into current hits (“Falling Back” and “Break My Soul”), marking the resurgence of House music in the 21st century and ultimately its transition to the mainstream. In the age of social media, it also means Chicago is getting due credit.
This year, guest performers included Osunlade, DJ Spen, Teddy Douglas, Natasha Diggs, J Star, D Train and Dajae.
Emanuel Love is a self-taught photographer from South Shore who has attended the House picnic “since the beginning” and started photographing it in 2012. He likes to capture the essence and vibe of the people, especially the candid moments, as shown here. Follow him on IG @emanuellove2