The 25th annual Chosen Few Old School Reunion, held on July 2-5 on our city’s lakefront, celebrates house music and Chicago’s house music heritage. Get ready to dance with 30,000 fans from around the world to non-stop DJ sets and special musical guests!
Nicknamed the “Woodstock of House Music” for its family reunion atmosphere and DIY approach – guests can bring their own tents, grills and other picnic fare – the picnic began as a way for a group of friends from the early days of house music to relive memories while connecting over burgers, baseball and beats. Fueled by old-fashioned word-of-mouth as well as social media, the picnic’s explosive growth since the early 2000s triggered a move from its original home behind the Museum of Science & Industry to bigger space nearby in Jackson Park, part of the city’s famed “Emerald Necklace” of parkland, in 2008.
“House Music” is a Chicago original — a genre of dance music now known the world over that was born, nurtured and developed here in Chicago. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, a group of popular DJs from Chicago’s south side — Wayne Williams, Jesse Saunders, Alan King, Tony Hatchett and Andre Hatchett — played their unique brand of soulful dance music to huge crowds in packed basements, high school cafeterias and legendary nightspots, including Sauer’s, the Tree of Life, First Impressions and the Loft, a club of historic importance in the birth and development of house music. Along with a handful of other legendary DJs including Frankie Knuckles at the Warehouse, Ron Hardy at the Music Box and Lil’ Louis on the west side of Chicago, the Chosen Few were the DJs primarily responsible during this period for popularizing the underground dance music that came to be known as house music.
The Chosen Few was originally founded as the “Chosen Few Disco Corp.” by DJ Wayne Williams in 1977. In 2006, the group added its first new member in nearly 30 years, legendary DJ and producer Terry Hunter, and in 2012 welcomed DJ and producer Mike Dunn into the ranks. The Chosen Few DJs have been featured in countless books, articles and documentary films, and each of the Chosen Few DJs was recently honored at a celebration recognizing the 100 Most Influential DJs in Chicago House Music History. In 1990, the Chosen Few DJs and their longtime friend and Chosen Few member Kim Parham had the idea of inviting old friends from the early house music days to a “reunion picnic” in the park. Beginning as a small gathering of family and friends and later dubbed the “old school picnic,” the reunion became an annual event. Now more than 20 years later, the “Chosen Few Old School Reunion Picnic” has grown into one of the largest and most highly anticipated music festival events in the world. The event now features world renowned guest DJs, live performances and, of course, the legendary Chosen Few DJs.
While the Picnic has grown to unimaginable proportions and now draws media members and house music lovers from around the world, the organizers remain committed to presenting a “family reunion” atmosphere. This unique event is a true celebration of family and friends, food and fun, and a part of Chicago’s rich musical history and culture. The Chosen Few Old School Reunion Picnic is a Chicago institution and an experience that is simply unforgettable!