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Chicago Celebrates The Life Of Frankie Knuckles

By Chuck Sudo in Arts & Entertainment on Jun 4, 2014 1:45PM

Millennium Park's Cloud Gate sculpture was transformed into the best house party in years Tuesday evening as thousands of people massed around "The Bean" to celebrate the life and musical legacy of the "Godfather of House Music," Frankie Knuckles.

The turnout was so huge for the city's tribute to Knuckles it overflowed deep into the Prizker Pavilion lawn and onto the Millennium Park steps leading to Michigan Avenue. Every amount of space in the immediate vicinity of Cloud Gate was filled by someone either grooving to the music being played by Elbert Phillips, Craig Loftis, Greg Gray and Mike Winston, or people taking photos of the unforgettable scene. It was a party for the ages, as though the spirit of Knuckles intended to turn Millennium Park into his old clubs, the Powerplant and the Warehouse, for a few hours.

The best aspect of the tribute to Knuckles was the amazingly chill vibe throughout. It was crowded, sure, but there was no indication the massive crowd would turn into a pushing and shoving match. (At least from what I saw.) Black people from the South and West sides commingled with hipsters sneaking sips of Captain Morgan in half-pint bottles. Older people sat in lawn chairs in the shade, their grandchildren dancing and running around. The white collar professionals used the Knuckles tribute as an opportunity to fashion last-minute picnic spreads.

Everyone got along.

Which served as further proof that House music—this uniquely Chicago music style—represents the best this city has to offer both its residents the world. At its core, this universal language is blind to race, religion, politics, gender, orientation or other belief system or bias. It unifies when all else divides. It is The Melting Pot personified. What an evening.