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There’s a post doing the rounds on Twitter that Chicago is lacking a big house music festival. Yep, you heard it right — Chicago, the birthplace of house music! But hold up, my friend. Chicago doesn’t just have one major house music festival; we’ve got several, including the legendary Chosen Few Picnic, the longest-running house music festival. Our house beats are so fresh they’re practically dripping off the rooftops every weekend. Our house music scene isn’t just alive — it’s thriving, jamming, and dancing through every party, summer festival, beach party and rooftop bash we throw. Oh, dear Twitter friend, you couldn’t be more wrong. (FYI, I don’t know this guy. I just saw the post circulating on Twitter).

Chicago has captivated audiences for over 40 years with its infectious rhythms and soulful melodies. Chicago’s house music scene is still an ever-evolving force that continues to shape and influence music and its culture in the city and around the world. 

At the heart of this culture are the parties. There’s a freedom found on the dance floor when a house track comes on. We party differently. The dance floor leaves you worn out and sweaty. You leave the party with a voice exhausted from shouting your favorite lyrics or screaming affirmatives to the DJ. It’s not about bottle service, looking good and standing around posting photos. The only thing that matters is the music and the dance floor. It’s a connection where dancers and the DJ speak through dance moves and drum beats. 

Therefore, there is no #SummertimeChi without house music, and parties continue to happen every night of the week in Chicago neighborhoods. Spanning across Chicago’s North, South, East and West sides, venues like Smart Bar, Renaissance, Reynolds, The Loft and Room 43 have become legendary spots where both local and international DJs spin tracks that keep the dance floors packed.

During summer months, there are house music events every week across the city. From house music picnics in the park, to enjoying the city’s beautiful lakefront, Chicago enjoys a plethora of outdoor house music events. House music events reign on South Side beaches at 31st Street (House Music Thursdays at Pier 31), 57th Street (Truth Restaurant on Tuesdays) and South Shore Beach on Fridays, allowing house music lovers to combine the joy of music with the pleasure of “being outside.”

Then there are the house music festivals like Arc Music Fest in August, West Fest in July, and the Chosen Few Festival and Picnic also in July. Each one embodies this community spirit, drawing thousands annually to celebrate house music. These gatherings are not just about music; they are about unity, expression, and the love for house music.

Chosen Few DJs Fest at Jackson Park on July 13, 2024. Photo by Sterling Hightower for The TRiiBE®

The Chosen Few picnic is the longest-running house music festival in the world — and in its 34-year history, there’s never been a single violent incident. What started as a small family gathering behind the Museum of Science & Industry has grown into one of the largest and most anticipated house music events, and it’s held right on the South Side in Jackson Park. This year’s festival happens on July 13 and features the Chosen Few DJs, Neil Pierce, Fast Eddie, Sundance and more.

The Arc Music Festival is a global celebration of house and electronic dance music. The weekend celebration features over 50 of the world’s best house and dance music DJs in Union Park. 

West Fest is a local neighborhood festival in West Town. While not a house music event, West Fest celebrates house music on its “Bass by The Pound” DJ Stage. This year’s West Fest features DJ Heather, Mark Farina, Stacy Kidd, Gene Hunt and Derrick Carter.

Events such as the City of Chicago’s House Music Conference and the annual House Music Festival also honor the genre and its Chicago origins. In recent years, there has been a growing recognition of house music’s cultural significance. In 2019, the City of Chicago officially declared Aug. 24 as Frankie Knuckles Day, honoring the legacy of the “Godfather of House Music.” In 2024, the city designated The Warehouse as a landmark, cementing its historical importance.

Chicago house music is now reaching global audiences more than ever before. Chicago house artists, DJs and producers travel the world playing at sold-out venues, festivals and clubs. This Chicago-created genre has also grabbed the attention of chart-topping artists like Drake, Beyoncé and more, with Chicago house DJs and producers even receiving recognition for their work from the Grammys. Most recently, Chicago actor, comedian and house DJ, Deon Cole, performed a house music set with fellow DJ D-Nice at the 2024 Essence Fest.

House music originated in Chicago in the early 1980s with young Black and brown aspiring DJs and producers who experimented with a variety of genres and musical beats such as the “four on the floor.” House music grew through local DJs spinning at clubs, basement and block club parties, and local high school dances. Social networks were not invented yet, so teens and party promoters hit the streets and shared flyers or tied posters to light poles with party details around local neighborhoods, high schools, and universities.

The music reflects the culture. And today, Chicago’s house music scene remains active and continues to celebrate its rich history, diverse community, creativity, inclusivity and innovation. As house music and its culture evolve, their roots and essence remain firmly planted in Chicago. House music is Chicago.

So, neighbor, while we appreciate the enthusiasm, you are misinformed. Let’s not pretend we’re missing out. Chicago’s house music scene is as robust as ever. We’re doing just fine dancing to our own beat, preserving our culture one epic festival at a time.

is a freelance contributor for The TRiiBE.