Gant-Man Credit: Courtesy the Artist

Ever since Frankie Knuckles died in 2014, Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) has ramped up efforts to commemorate the sound and culture that the famous house DJ and producer helped birth. Over Memorial Day weekend in 2016, DCASE threw a six-hour “Chicago House Party” at Pritzker Pavilion, and its success inspired the department to develop the concept into a more robust event that includes a conference. In 2018, it finally became a full-fledged festival, with four stages spread throughout Millennium Park and a small army of record dealers selling dance 12-inches right by Cloud Gate. This year’s Chicago House Music Conference and Festival begins the evening of Thursday, May 23, with a slate of panels at the Cultural Center. Free to the public, these talks will address the history of house music and provide advice on how to get involved in the dance-music industry, among other things. The festival proper kicks off at Pritzker Pavilion the next night with two live sets (by 8FatFat8 and by Mr. A.L.I. with Carla Prather) and a short ceremony where pioneering producer Chip E. will receive the Chicago House Music Award. As it was last year, Saturday is the big day, with nearly two dozen acts on five stages. I recommend arriving early, and not only because last year the park reached capacity by midafternoon: the jam-packed lineup includes local boogie evangelist Mark Grusane, in-demand DJ Rae Chardonnay, and Josh Werner of 90s ambient collective Atmospheric Audio Chair, all of whom open the fest at 2 PM (at Pritzker Pavilion, the Deep House Stage, and the Park “Chill” Grill Stage, respectively). Other highlights include Detroit house stylist Moodymann, juke pioneer Gant-Man, footwork collective the Era, and house veteran Gene Hunt, who headlines Pritzker. If you want to pick up some new moves, make sure to find a spot with a good view of the Family Jam Stage, which hosts dance workshops all day—and if you’ve already got all the moves you need, just try to find a spot where you’ve got enough room to use them.   v

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