Posts Tagged ‘Grant Park’

HOUSE IN THE PARK 11 06.09.15

September 8, 2015

HITP11

“HONK.” As sedans, pickups and 4X4’s slow to a crawl on I-20 eastbound at the ramp of Boulevard, the traffic on the World Wide Web stalls. Thankfully, no vehicles or servers, for that matter, crash. Finally!-And no not the CeCe Peniston classic-House In The Park Sunday arrives!

At a park, named after a U.S. president, on Confederate Avenue, thousands of feet stampede the green space. The festivity is less conservancy, more 4G. Posts and photos clog social media newsfeeds. Thirty-second videos go viral. Hit after hit. Likes accumulate. Tweets chirp. Memes abound. A song list is even cataloged on a blog. HITP 11 trends.

“After all house music is the black person’s alternative.” Replies the voice-activated “AI” when asked, “Is HITP the real Afropunk?” Uploads of Afro’s, locs, beads, and faux hawks be natural or extensions, crown heads of dancing kings and dancing queens, and their dancing princes and dancing princesses. Selfies of Tees, tunics, cowls and body paint are fit for fashion spreads. Just #blackfashionmatters.    

Dress and tags are only smaller numerators in HITP’s larger algorithm. There are four constant variables that play the most important part when coding the event’s success.

The Four Fathers. Salah Ananse, DJ Kemit, Kai Alce, and founding father Ramon Rawsoul stand tall and proud. Acetate. Polycarbonate. Gigabyte: Are their mouthpieces. Their voices eschewed from shiny hardware, transmitted by stereo surround-sound. Each bringing their distinct flavor, Salah: boutique house, Kemit: disco, Ramon: ancestral and Kai: every sound in between, makes PPL <3 HITP. 

Sunrays kiss smiley faces. Red, green, gold, and black jewels sparkle against the stark bulb in the sky. iClouds fly across the azure. The temperature feels not too hot, not too humid, and never too cold but just the right amount of cool. A fit-watch pixels display 85 degrees.

The balmy temperature is a shock, but not the music. As one girl whips and nae naes to a remix of Justin Timberlake singing “Holy Grail.” Everyone agrees House in The Park is the “Holy Grail.”

The Holy Grail that started ten years ago as an intimate gathering of friends, has massed into more than one large family picnic, but a technological boom. Far more than food trucks, the aroma of grilled meats, vendors, pavilions and tent city, there is no denying HITP’s digital footprint that stomps the digital world. Perhaps, next year, the drone that flies overhead will be used to film a virtual-reality live stream. In real-time, to all businesses, corporations and advertisers, HITP is where the money is.

words: aj dance

visual: toasted ink

HOUSE IN THE PARK 8 02.09.12

September 3, 2012

HOUSE IN THE PARK 8

Gone are the days when House In the Park was intimate, sitting at quaint public city parks where 500 people gathered.  Today, House In the Park has become a behemoth must-attend event for house heads, non house heads and soon to be house heads from around the world.  It groups with the likes of large music festivals, think Music Midtown, DEMF or Bonnaroo.  The event has grown so large it could easily sit on a 700 acre farm somewhere in Georgia or on a meadow in the city’s largest park overlooking a pavilion with a giant stage where the Fab 4 can DJ.  Get ready!  In the near future, if HITP continues its exponential expansion these ideas might consider further exploration but for now we’ll settle for two pavilions at its latest incarnate, Grant Park.

HITP’s footprints have danced the city far and wide for the best green space with amenities.  Eight years earlier, Candler Park with no electrical outlets played host.  Thereafter, home for six years was Perkerson Park in the heart of the city’s Southwest Capital View community.  Amazingly, during that time span something happened that every event planner prays to experience.  The phenomenon called growth plagued HITP at such an unprecedented rate that PP had to be abandoned for greater green space.  So, off to the city’s east side where the oldest and fourth largest park named after engineer Lemuel P. Grant seemed a more suitable fit.

Home to the city’s only zoo, civil war-esque Cyclorama, swimming, and recreation facilities the 131.5 acres is somewhat a tourist trap.  Grant Park sits between Cherokee Avenue and Boulevard SE where Confederate Avenue begins or ends depending on one’s view.  Yes, this is the park where the guy jogs wearing a Confederate flag.  However, on this day HITP’s house music freedom flag waves for all to behold.

Already, the park is abuzz with various makings.  Picture perfect blue skies while birds chirp songs of joy.  The morning temperatures announce another noon day scorcher.  Fresh air travels to and fro delivering lively scents of burning charcoal.  Famous chicken sausages and green veggies sizzle on grills.  In the not so far away distance, a soundtrack of classic house music and old-school hip hop emanate from a portable device in the smaller of the three pavilions transplanted between pavilion 1 and pavilion 2.    To the left, several vendors assemble a massive tent, and to the right muscle men carry folding chairs and folding tables.  Jovial moms push little ones in high-tech strollers as little girls run by giggling.  Boisterous voices thunder across the pathway to greet love ones with cherish bear hugs.  The scene embodies one giant family reunion. This is love in the park.

The noonday’s festivities kick off sharply with the internationally acclaimed DJ Kemit of Spread Love assuming musical duties.  As the band Rufus plays backup, singer Chaka Kahn wastes no time taking lead on “I Know You, I Live You” that draws singing voices and dancing sneakers racing to pavilion 1.  Next, DJ Kemit throws in a classic for all the old-school house heads with Ten City’s Devotion.”  After another round of oldies but goodies and Afefe Iku’sBody Drummin”, DJ Kemit logs off as music ambassador as the next musicologist logs on.

It’s the DJ with the dreads that proves new songs can be just as addictive as old songs.So Addictive(The Layabouts Addicted to House Vocal Mix) by Benedetto & Farina featuring vocals by Sandy Spady, laid back vibe ushers in a refreshing cool breeze that the dancers warmly welcome.  DJ Salah Ananse’s ever eclectic persona takes the vibes deep back to 1997 with gospel legend BeBe Winans “Thank You” (Masters At Work 12” Mix) that brings Sunday morning church service and the crowd to the park’s pavilion.  Keeping things classic, Chic’s “Dance, Dance, Dance” storms P 1 which is packed with sweaty bodies.  Once again, the tone cools down a bit with the disco-esque bouncy grooves from the UK’s Layabouts featuring Seattle vocalist Portia Monique on the sing-along Do Better.”  DJ Kemit AKA MC Kemit hops on the microphone and announces a Salah Ananse exclusive that pounds from the speakers.  An afro beat comes to a thrilling climax as 1990’s “hip hop on an R&B tip with a pop appeal/feel to it” pioneers, Bell Biv Devoe sing “She’s Driving Me Outta My Mind” on their platinum hit, “Poision.”  What a surprise as Generation X sings along and jumps off into dance hysteria.  The song that receives the “MOST CRUNK” award goes to one of the most recognized song’s in the world, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”  This ambitious undertaking remixed by South African sensation Black Motion (Mortarfied Bootleg) equipped with an afro house beat, brass horns and Vincent Price’s famous cackle is without a trace of MJ’s theatric chops.  The remix builds to a climatic peek with Vincent’s howl that raises the roof off the hinges as the afro beat slams on the heads of the crowd that sends bodies into frantic fits of rage.  Fists pump the air as mouths drop agape and feet stomp the concrete.  The Afrique Electrique founder known for his production/remix skills sets the bar high with another handcrafted standard this time with Goyte’s featuring Kimbra “Somebody That I Used To Know” (Salah Ananse Mix) one of the countless interpretations of the Top 40 smash that now thumps with an afro house kick accompanying its lullaby inflection.  “Do You Have It?” The questioned begged by DJ Spen presents LeRoyal, Baltimore’s up and coming urban/pop sensation, remixed by Maurice Joshua, told the people to say “Yeah” if you have the key to life, love.  On the grunge front, Salah drops another goodie, his rework to Nirvana’s, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (Salah Ananse Mix) that was last years HITP 7 anthem.  A tribute to the late great Fela’s afro beat rounds out one of the most diverse, eclectic and impressive sets of the day.  Salah rocked that fresh face house music mixed with an alternative vibe of unpredictability that shows the crowd love and the crowd responds with more of the same.

“How many of you were at the Paradise Garage?” The master of ceremony shouts into the microphone and asks the crowd.  The crowd roars like lions.  To both pavilions, old-school heads rush in droves as DJ Kemit rewinds the hands of time to yesteryear.  A fellow well know old-school head raises a crafty constructed Paradise Garage poster that travels the pavilion.  Time rests somewhere between the years 1976-1987 as the group Chicago’s “Street Player” takes the dancers to the land of FM radio and disco roller rinks.  The crowd can’t get enough as DJ AKA MC Kemit announces a future surprise.  Then it happens, a song plays that causes the people to respond like wild animals in summer heat.  BT Express’ “Peace Pipe” smokes and burns receding hairlines and salt and pepper follicles completely bald.  After a well-rounded tribute of old school classics, DJ Kemit switches gears and brings the vibe back to the present.  The Yoruba Recordings catalog Is on full-blast as Yoruba label mate Afefe Iku’s Re-edit of the mega platinum selling rock band Radiohead’s,“Everything In Its Right Place” takes the listeners on an ancestral journey of deep rhythms and tribalism.  Yoruba Recordings label head Osunlade’sEnvision(Yoruba Soul Mix) tingles the air.  By design, DJ Kemit segues into two songs from his recently released long player titled,Everlasting.”  The first single Transformshimmers with Osunlade singing lead vocals while Spread Loveshines with Atlanta’s Sepesenahki on vocals, the theme to DJ Kemit’s acclaimed ectopic party with the same moniker.  “Go pick up the album at Moods Music or on the web at ……, “announces compere Kemit.  The former Arrested Development DJ is in pleasure mode and is on the prowl to please every lady in attendance.  The lovelies are serenaded with not one but THREE offerings; from DJ Zinhle featuring vocalist Busiswa Gqulu with My Name Is,” to Teddy Douglas presents Margaret Grace with God Created Woman,” to Verna  Francis, “Earth Is The Place” (Restless Soul Peaktime Mix) that has the ladies singing, “Cause I’m a woman.”

Expectedly, every woman arrives implacably dressed and ready to impress.  Actually, HITP is a tour de fashion.  Every hair-do possibly imagined is sported by the ladies.  Afros, braids, curls, extensions, faux hawks, locs, natural, and twisties bop and weave around the park.  Every hair color is spotted on tops of heads from blonde, blue with purple roots, pink, red and brown.  Hair hangs cropped, short, shoulder length and down the back that can rival any famous hair show.  Vibrant outfits of every summer color electrify eyes.  Every hue of bare skin provides orectic temptation.  Accessories of sneakers, kneepads, belts, neckwear, ear wear, eyewear and church hats compliments bare skin against sweat- stained clothes.  Actually, wearing one outfit is not sufficient.  Yes, a second change of clothes is needed as several people change T-shirts, sundresses and shorts for the next DJ.

Ramon Rawsoul beams those pearly whites.  A million dollar smile flashes in the sun’s embrace.  The HITP founder stands aplomb to lead the congregants to the Mother Land.  The sojourners cross the Atlantic Ocean and arrive at Jo’burg’s townships on the continent called Africa where African rhythms are explored.  From the likes of Manoo’s,Kodjothe tribal banger to Zakes Batwini’sWasting My Timethe sounds of South Africa’s house music plays loud and proud.  From there Ramon gives his parishioners a glimpse at his stomping grounds back in Chicago, Illinois with a classic Chi-town acid house music track.  Then it’s time to get serious with Jill Scott’s vocal prayer “Hear My Call” (Pablo Martinez Mix).  Someone somewhere must have danced to the rain gods because in the midst of the tribal excursion raindrops descend upon the park.  To tease the crowd, Ramon plays Kerri Chandler’sRain(Atjazz Mix) the soundtrack to the precipitation.  The refreshing shower that lasts a mere ten minutes does nothing to divert the people’s attention in the park.  As the rain clouds roll away, sunny skies reappear and dance to Ceramic featuring Aisling Stephenson’s Broken Dreams(Ian Friday ‘Tea Party’ Vocal).  Unsung, Atlantic Starr shows up with “Send For Me” (Master Kev & Tony Loreto) that makes the hearts of old-school die.  One observer notes, she has died and gone to heaven while one house head proclaims, this is paradise.  How important it is to play new songs that young people can relate too.  A team of young girls, holding hands, walks through P 1 and mouths Goyte’s anthem “Somebody That I Used To Know” (Master Kev & Tony Loreto Mix).  The song that plays for the second time at the event marks one of the many music standouts of the day.  The anthem also wraps up Ramon’s time on deck.  Thanks for taking the pilgrimage to the lands of South Africa to explore the deep tribal sounds of house music.  Musical exposure is a key concept at HITP.

Kai Alce is his name and music is his game.  When the mixologist plays people show up in droves to experience the master at work.  Always the final installment of the Fab 4, Kai wraps up the party with old-school meets on the horizon anthems.  From classic disco, Brainstorm’s “Lovin Is Really My Game” to classic house, Kenny Bobien’sFather” (Ricanstruction Mix) there was something played for all peoples.

Of course, an event of this magnitude will have a few issues.  It all started during DJ Salah Ananse’s set.  At various times and in various spots within P 1 dance circles formed for the elite of dancers to battle and show off fancy footwork, hand stands and pop and lock art forms.  Honestly, when the pavilion is packed with bodies in motion, there’s not much room in the pavilion for open mouthed bystanders to besiege cropped circles to watch b-boys and dancers prove crown.  HITP needs all the dance space it can conjure.

During DJ Kemit’s illustrious set, there was the mishap fire incident when a fire extinguisher is needed within fifteen minutes or the park and party would have been shut down.  Inside the pavilion, people took the matter into their own hands chanting “The roof/The roof/The roof is on fire/We don’t need no water/ Let the …..(well you know the rest).  Yes, the people mentioned the undesirable right in front of families and small ones.  “People HITP is about family.  Let’s respect the kids,” announced MC Kemit.  At that time, someone had the brilliant idea to throw water into the air until MC Kemit laid down the law and had a come to Jesus meeting with the obnoxious.

By the time Kai Alce assumed music duties, P 1 became so crowded that for the first time ever at HITP crowd control was needed.  Outside of P 1 a HITP female volunteer stood with yellow caution rope in hand to let one to two people into P 1 at a time.  In effort to find additional space P 1 was abandoned for P 2.  However, both pavilions overflowed with people like cellulite trapped in spandex on a hot day.  In P 2 the hysteria chants of ATL vs New York vs every other city represented at the park was nauseating.  SECURITY.  We need security in P 2 fast before the zoo animals get out of hand.  Actually, the city’s zoo is at the other end of the park.

Once again, HITP set out to exceed expectations and that it accomplished.  From its latest stomping grounds to the music played the event was not only the summer’s hot sauce on collards but the fatback to the event of the year.  What a beautiful experience to behold and witness.  Also, words to the wise, next year, please don’t submit the DJs a request list.  The Fab 4 need not be told how to do their job.  These cats are the very best of the best.  They know what music to play and how to play music.  All four professionals played a diverse work of art that well-represented genres of music that ranged from house, classics, to soul. Please keep in mind, this is not the NYC Weekender, nor the Chicago Weekender, nor the Detroit Weekender, nor the San Francisco Weekender or the London Weekender.  It’s not even the Old-School Weekender or the New-School Weekender.  This is the ATLANTA WEEKENDer and HITP is house music.  So Atlanta standup.  This is your time to shine.  Be it the music that unites and not divides.  House music conquers with LOVE!

WEEKENDer Epilogue

After dancing on the concrete and sweating outdoors for several hours, you find out there’s an after party that you must attend.  Off you go….

 

Words and Photography by AJ Dance

HOUSE IN THE PARK 8 IN PHOTOS 02.09.12

September 3, 2012

Photography by AJ Dance