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Chicago MOVE! House Music Festival Feature Part 1: The History

Author: Alys Clare Francis
Monday, October 30, 2006
It bridges divides with a 4/4 beat, uniting on the dancefloor regardless of race or sexual orientation. The music, of course, is House, and the city that spawned its sound 25 years ago recently gave recognition to just how far it's baby has come with the first 'Chicago MOVE! House Music Festival'.

Aside from using the two-day festival to acknowledge the growth of House music worldwide, director Randy Crumpton explained, "we wanted to celebrate House music in its birthplace, and hope to encourage a better understanding and relationship between cultures and people through dance"

Those whose first exposure to House in a club environment was reasonably recent, can be forgiven for not knowing how it first attracted such a diverse mix of followers, or why the MOVE! Festival can legitimately claim to be House music's Woodstock. "Martin Luther King Jnr once said Chicago was the most segregated city in America," says Crumpton, expanding on the background from which House music was developed. "House music certainly brought many cultures together on the dance floor and it indeed became a sub culture of its own. People dressed 'House' back then. It was an attitude, a spirit. It helped create an atmosphere in the city that contributed to a coalition of Blacks, Whites, Latinos, Asians and gays coming together to elect Chicago's first black Mayor, Harold Washington in 1983."

"The music celebrated freedom and that spirit spread throughout Chicago. Once Harold took office, Chicago's racist politics really showed its face, but people of all races and cultures would come together at these huge parties at warehouses, places with no frills or alcohol, and dance all night long".

As it spread to the UK and Europe, House music continued to draw in people from different cultures. Today's audience is so diverse no one group can claim House music as their own.

Taking to the stage for this year's MOVE! Festival, Lady D, dubbed  'Chicago's first lady of House', is one of many who consider House music to be most commercially appealing demographic for thinking people. The veteran DJ, producer and record label owner states, "If you are a successful woman, for example, you might be attracted to House because it's not the type of music that denigrates women. If you're a gay man, you might like House because once again, the music doesn't demean you or your choices. Further, a lot of music is made by people who are openly gay, celebrating their lifestyle and not getting criticized for it. House connects people because it is a feeling that you get, a truly visceral experience that affects everyone in the room, when it's being done right that is".

Held at the new outdoor Charter One Pavillion, this is precisely the guiding principle behind the MOVE! Festival. This year's event, brought together the founders of the House movement, including Grammy award winner Frankie Knuckles, Maurice Joshua, David Morales, South African DJ Glen Lewis, singers Barbara Tucker, Jocelyn Brown and Chicago's Jamie Principle and Dajae. Also on stage was Chicago native Ralphi Rosario, Derrick Carter, Terry Hunter, Steve "Silk" Hurley, Djeremy, Lady D, Andre Hatchett, and Danny Tenaglia. Chicago can look forward to this celebration of House again next year, as organizers CDM Chicago, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and the Bureau of Tourism have added it to Chicago's annual festival line up.

House music has come a long way since its inception at underground house parties and nightclubs, now commanding funding for a two-day festival in its honor. Resident DJ at the Warehouse nightclub in the late 70's, where the name 'House' was thought to have originate, Frankie Knuckles said "The fact that the city government has embraced the genre of House music to the point that it will put money behind the idea of producing a proper festiv