Photography by Bobby Talamine
Writing by Fiza Javid
The sun shined on day two of the 2021 Pride in the Park Festival, bringing in more excitement and less mud slides to dance on. Day two proved that fashion is just as much a necessary staple to performance and that a festival could never have too many DJs.
GRAMMY-winning and lesbian electronic dance music DJ, Tracy Young kicked off the festivities at the GoPuff pride stage with fellow hype dancers, performing her electrifying remixes. Tracy Young won the GRAMMY for her pride remix to Madonna's "I Rise," earning her not only the award, but a personal congratulations from Madonna herself.
On the other side of the festival in the land of the groove, the CircuitMOM Grooveland stage carried equally notable DJ sets. DJ Matt Suave remixed the top pop hits of Ariana Grande. Matt was followed by Lady D, a trailblazing female DJ who shined through with her house, disco and open-format remixes. Karsten Sollars was also a major highlight of the DJ set finale, bringing the vibes as he showcased his most notable mixes, closing the Grooveland stage for the festival season.
American Transgender singer Mila Jam opened the main performances at the GoPuff stage with incredible fire. She performed her original song "Fierce," a notable collaboration that was created alongside Angelica Ross from the hit FX series Pose. With classic ballroom culture dance moves, Mila moonwalked through the stage and genuinely turned heads. Fierce was followed by a slow ballads, a theatrical skit. She closed out her set with her hit song "Better Days."
The next performer, Tenderoni, truly brought the crowd back to the 90s, doing the running man on stage to "Poison", by Bel Biv Devoe and sporting a bedazzled zebra print suit, he stripped and twerking on stage, landing in a splits until he walked right out. He later returned to the stage following The Vixen, doing dressed as Powerline from the Goofy movie, performing the hit song "Stand Out", followed by Gangnam style and an electrifying Michael Jackson cover.
Next up was The Vixen, notable for being Season 10 contestant on RuPaul's Drag Race, was a true fashionista. Performing original songs such as "Tea Party," "The Vixen," and a major crowd banger "Chicago" in a draping hot pink boa laden dress, with a matching pink flower crown, she flowed through the stage effortlessly alongside her dancers, who had colorful flowy wings as the backdrop. The backdrop included a childhood photo. She performed her songs with a scarf that blew through the wind as she moved through the stage. In her second set, she returned with with colorful umbrellas and an incredible checkered outfit, with a black latex skirt.
Kinley Preston took the stage doing Dua Lipa covers in an incredible four section trail that fanned the stage, held by her dancers. She took off the trail to reveal a stunning shimmering gold pom-pom laden bathing suit, keeping the crowd dancing.
Chaka Khan's set began with a beautiful surprise. The daughter of the soulful legend herself, Indira Khan showcased her original songs and edged in a new era for her family. She effortlessly swapped styles with her soulful voice as well as rapping. She is definitely making a name for herself, and we couldn't wait for more.
"It feels good to be home," exclaimed Chaka Khan. The crowd went wild when Chaka Khan was announced on stage, as the team members in the office of the mayor was giddy with excitement. As she performed hits such as "Tell me Something Good" and "I'm Every Woman," there were tears in the eyes of both media outlets and the front row.
The night closed out with Gryffin, who sent the crowd into a frenzy. The crowd jumped and head banged to his remixes that covered "The Pursuit of Happiness" by Kid Cudi and "Mr. Brightside" by the Killers.
This post COVID festival for Chicago was a wild success that not only allowed nearly 13,000 Chicagoans to experience pride but also celebrate each other's diversity, and that couldn't have been displayed more through the music. 2021 Pride in the Park was one for the books with a colorful future ahead for the coming years.