Based on their 2014 work Juke Cry Hand Clap: A People’s History of Chicago House & Black Social Culture, Honey Pot Performance is creating an interactive digital map documenting Black social culture from the Great Migration through the end of the 20th century. The map features profiles for over 300 different venues, each of which includes basic information, first-person stories, and supplemental media, all collected through collaborative community research. Though work will be ongoing, HPP will launch the first public version of the site in Summer 2018.

Drawing from music forms such as blues, gospel, disco, and funk as well as dances such as the slow drag, bopping, stepping, the hustle, and line dances, the map explores “house” as an evolving embodied lineage of African American forms of making community and of cultural resistance influenced by the Great Migration from the rural South to the urban North (1910s through the 1970s). While the core of this project focuses on Black social culture as an overarching operating category, it also acknowledges the cultural contributions of other primary social identifications, especially Latino and queer communities who were critical to the emergence of house culture in the 1970s and 1980s. Ultimately, we hope to contribute a previously unheard narrative into the historical record, gathering together new facets of Chicago house music & dance as examples of Americana firmly embedded in our local, regional, and national culture as well as building new strategies for sharing this rich cultural knowledge.

Programming Schedule

10-11am Chicago’s Radio & Recording Industry

Chicago has a rich history of producing and disseminating Black music from gospel to blues to house. In this session, panelists will discuss how Chicago’s recording & radio industries provide tremendous insight on the cultural spaces artists frequented from Alligator Records to Chess Records to Trax Records.

With Braxton Holmes, Reginah Walton, Khris Hutchinson, and Hugh H. Moderated by Ayana Contreras.

11-12pm Chicago Blues

Screening of excerpt from Sam Lay in Bluesland, a film documenting the Chicago influence in Blues music and highlighting the contributions of drummer Sam Lay.

With John Anderson, Fernando Jones, Samantha Gloria Bannister, and remarks by Davarian Baldwin. Moderated by Lauren Lowery.

12:15-1:45pm Black Sociality & Spectacle from the Dreamland Cafe to the Bismarck

Ayana Contreras (Reclaimed Soul) and Duane E Powell (The Rear View Mirror Sessions) take us on a journey through Black forms of social pleasure across the 20th century.  Using music as a lens, these DJ-music historians discuss the sounds, venues, fashion, and social issues surrounding black joy and pleasure in Chicago’s social music and dance spaces.

1:50-3pm Clubs, Crews, & Houses: The politics of belonging & membership in Chicago’s Black social spaces

Chicago’s social and membership clubs became essential networks of safe and lucrative interaction and leisure that facilitated navigation of the city for Great Migrants and their descendants. Dance crews and fashion houses, continuing this tradition of “membership” in the later 20th century, evolved as another iteration of the social club for youth, queer folks, and those with other kinds of alternative lifestyles to express themselves. This panel is a glimpse at the complex social, cultural, and economic work of these clubs, crews, and houses and their relationship to the development of blues, jazz, soul, and house music in Chicago.

With Kirkland Townsend, Larissa Johnson, Jamal Moss, Keith Green, Lady Sol, and Cassie Johnson. Co-moderated by Abra Johnson & Duane E Powell.

Sponsored / Funded By: Common Heritage / National Endowment for Humanities, Illinois Humanities, Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events.