Juke, Cry, Hand, Clap: Remembering Chicago’s House Culture

What an amazing run!—HUGE thanks to everyone who attended our 2-week world premiere of JUKE CRY HAND CLAP: A People’s History of House & Chicago Social Practice at High Concept Laboratories. The Juke Joint (our immersive set/installation) was jumpin’ with performances, discussions, workshops and –from Oct.3-12– transformed the main lobby of Mana Contemporary into a speakeasy temple of Chicago House exaltation/celebration!

One of our guests–Chicagoist.com’s Ester Alegria–was so moved by her experience of JCHC that she just had to write about it! Here now is an excerpt from her review of our Friday, Oct 10th performance (read Ester’s full blog post HERE):

“ ‘Welcome to a love letter’, began Meida McNeal (Honey Pot Performance’s Artistic Director). Thus kicked off Juke Cry Hand Clap: A People’s History of House & Chicago Social Culture Friday night, on Mana Contemporary Chicago’s premiere floor in Pilsen. The white, wide space, ripe for artists of all disciplines to fill the area with thought-provoking creations boasted an air of anticipation. The creators of Honey Pot Performance (Abra Johnson, Meida McNeal, Felicia Holman, and Aisha Jean-Baptiste) curate from the black feminist’s perspective. They are curators of sweat, a million first times, and your older siblings who always left the house looking fresh to death. This is my Chicago.


DJ Jo de Presser spun all kinds of sounds from my childhood began the opening routine with “Welcome to the Pleasure Dome”. Felicia Holman started “jackin’” then twisted her torso sideways and wrapped her arms into the repetitive “percolator” movement—a dance I remember practicing to Chicago house mixes like, “Bang, Ski” at the Markham Skating Rink with the teenagers around me juking and footworking..I could see the complex personalities of each dancer dripping with each shimmery bead of sweat. They were all so comfortable within each other’s arms. I craved this kind of sisterhood for myself. I craved this kind of kinship for the world. Every movement was a haiku; and the movements, forces of nature dedicated to themselves. This meta-composition was healing, empowering. I relaxed my shoulders, inviting this new kind of acceptance. This is my Chicago.


I was there to witness an amalgamation of Chicago house experiences. I in turn, had my own re-awakening. That night, through movement and prose, I learned that the Great Migration radically altered Chicago’s African-American population. I learned that we live in a city with people who are always migrating. Constantly in search of something better.

The women, moving in sync, were reminiscent of a flock of birds flying in a V pattern; perhaps migrating through Chicago also in search of that new piece of happiness.”

Elijah McKinnon