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.
Writing by: Fiza Javid
Photography by: Bobby Talamine
With every storm, we are sure to see a rainbow. On Saturday afternoon, day one at the 2021 Pride in the Park Festival, Grant Park was flooded with a sea of colorful rainbow umbrellas, costumes and a crowd ready to kick off their first post-pandemic festival. Enthusiastic crowds in speedos, and corsets were ready to dance through the rain and get down in the mud.
“Rain or shine, this was going to happen, not just because of the challenging year we’ve had, but because we are some proud motherf**kers!” Exclaimed Naysha Lopez, during her performance at the GoPuff Pride Stage, which was the main stage for the day.
After a two-hour delay, the festival kicked off with a Ballroom set on the GoPuff Pride stage. For those that don’t know, the Underground Ballroom Culture officially developed in the 1920s-1960s as a counterculture. It originated in New York City and consisted of “walks” or competitions with mixed performances such as modeling, dancing, and lip syncing. The Pride Parade itself also developed as a protest to advocate for same-sex marriage.
There was also a secondary stage entitled Circuitmom Grooveland, which featured DJ sets from Hector Fonseca, CircuitMOM, Denali Foxx, Chamilla Foxx, and gogo dancers.
Chicago’s Pride in the Park commemorated all of the aspects of both the parade and Ballroom Culture, which were further exemplified with the main stage performances.
Renowned Chicago DJ Derrick Carter kept the crowd moving smoothly throughout the day.
The main performance went off with a bang with Miss Toto, who stunned the crowd with Beyonce impersonation with the choreography and fashion en pointe. She stunned the crowd as she joined the stage twice with a Madonna themed bustier and a glamorous belly dance skirt, gliding through the stage to “Supermodel” by RuPaul. She brought it back to 2009 dancing to “Took the Night” by Chelley and more.
Naysha Lopez brought the theatre with group choreography as she lip sang “Boys” by JBTV alumni Charli XCX, and other classics like “Milkshake,” “Jump On It” and Britney Spears’ “Boys.”
The #Free Britney campaign was also a prevailing statement with a number of guests, as well as Tiesto, honoring the singer by wearing Britney Spears shirts.
Alyssa Edwards stunned the crowd with an incredible cover of “Proud” by Heather Small.
Betty Who performed original songs alongside dancers Joshua and Shawn, and uplifted the spirits of the audience, reminding everyone how much has been overcome.
"It is genuinely the best day of my life thank you very much, it's been a long pandemic, it's taken its toll on me, but here we are! I want you to have the night of your lives, who cares if it rains on us!”
Mascots Benny the Bull and Tommy Hawk excited the whole front row as they threw Tiesto hats and t-shirts into the audience. By the end of the night, pride shone through the crowd, who couldn’t have been more electrified for Tiesto, which ended the night like a firecracker.
Pride in the Park is on the track to becoming one of the most popular festivals in the country, and Chicago is ready for it. No matter that mother nature wanted to rain on this parade, Pride in the Park was not just a smooth sail, it was a success. Filled with love, commemorations, glitter, and stunts, day one was truly one for the books.
Stay tuned for day two, with coverage on the performances of Chaka Khan and Gryffin!