House Music emerged from rubble of the Disco scene in the late 1970s and early 1980s. By then popular culture had decided that “Disco sucks”. Even the Bee Gees were booed off the stage at Shea Stadium. Not so for House Music. House initially catered mainly to an African American and Latino audience beginning in Chicago, and then spreading to cities like Detroit, Newark, New York City, Atlanta, San Francisco and eventually overseas. Although its popularity is now wide, it still remains a largely underground scene.
Every city has its own brand of House Music, but its foundation is always Disco’s steady four-on-the-floor beat with varieties of soul, funk, jazz, salsa, gospel and reggae over-dubbed. The result is a multi-layered, highly danceable mix without the more synthetic quality of Disco, a quality that became its downfall. Yet, perhaps it is because of the Disco beat blended with a mix of musical genres that House appeals to such a diverse group of people spanning multiple generations.
House in the Park has become known for attracting all sorts of people. No one is unwelcome – it doesn’t matter what your age, gender, race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation is: getting your swerve on is about peace, unity, and having a good time. In 2009 a crowd of over 4,000 showed up; this year almost 10,000 did. Perhaps it keeps growing because there’s enough going on for everybody including the people who want to dance, those who want to socialize and just hang out, artists who want to paint the scene, musicians who want to jam along with the beat, and the serious barbequers who want to cook with their industrial-strength smokers. The delicious smells, the beat, the artistic creativity, the sweaty heat, the generosity of spirit, and the rhythmic movement of the crowd converge creating a vibratory atmosphere where the drink of choice is bottled water – and lots of it. Not everybody burns calories at House in the Park, but all leave feeling happy.
This guy was so flexible he could bend over backwards and touch his head to the ground without hands. At first he told me he charges $10 per photo. But I didn’t have any money so he let me take his picture for free. Everybody is generous at House in the Park.
DJs Kemit and Kai Alce, along with the other DJs not pictured here, take turns spinning the groove. Their day was long. Set up started around 10:30am. The music began at Noon and didn’t end until 8:30pm. Then the DJs broke down their set up and headed to the after party which began at 10pm at a local club where they spun until about 3am.
Dancing makes people hungry and for those who forgot to bring a picnic there was Sister E.O.'s spread. A plate of fried chicken, potato salad, mac & cheese and greens was four dollars, or one side dish for a dollar.
This artist’s canvas was blank when the party started at Noon. But by 5 o’clock he had captured the spirit and movement of the dancing crowd in living color. He wanted to finish the painting by the end of the party but he lost too much sun light by 7:30pm.
Deirdre Oakley is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Georgia State University and Editor of Social Shutter. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. To view more photographs of House in the Park, log on to our Facebook page.