The final Silver Room Sound System Block Party got off to a rough start Saturday, but attendees still found a good time as they celebrated the beloved festival’s weekend swan song.
The long-lived dance music party is holding its last hurrah this weekend after 18 years. Over those nearly two decades, the festival grew from its humble origins in a Wicker Park alley to become a South Side giant that drew tens of thousands of spectators to Hyde Park and later to Bronzeville’s lakefront.
Held again this year at Oakwood Beach, founder Eric Williams said difficulties making a profit and the amount of work involved in setting up the festival each year led to his decision to “lay this to bed” after a “good run.”
The festival will hold its final day on Sunday, starting at noon.
A powerful storm that blew through the city on Friday night caused power issues and problems setting up the festival’s main stage, which led to multiple early performances being cut Saturday.
Despite that, Kendra Sledge, who has attended the festival every year since it moved to Hyde Park in 2016, said she wasn’t worried.
“Once it gets started, they’ll play until everybody leaves,” she remarked.
Sledge was joined by her friend Michelle “Sunshine” Locke, who said she tries to make every house music festival she can. Despite having gotten only a few hours sleep after a 13-hour shift as a traveling nurse, Locke said she made a point of showing up early: “I’m here and I’ll be here all day.”
Once things got going, DJ Dhe Di Beats was the first to spin on the Block Stage — a special moment for the Bronzeville native, who has attended the festival since its early days in Wicker Park.
“It’s rare to find something like this,” she said. “This is what makes Chicago as dope as it is.”
Dee Ewunes, a Hyde Park resident, hit the dance floor with Djedi Ohm and other friends she has made through the dance music scene during DJ Mochi’s set.
Ewunes said she has regularly attended the fest to see to see local DJs.
“It’s like a family reunion,” Ewunes said. “My dance floor-mates, my DJs, my Chicagoans, colleagues, friends, neighbors, dogs and babies.”
For her, the city’s house music festivals are more than just a place to enjoy music, they’re therapeutic.
“I love to dance, it’s my therapy,” Ewunes said. “I just let it out, I’m a big kid at heart. Dancing is freedom.”
Ewunes said she heard rumors that the festival will eventually return in some form, which was keeping her hopes up.
“I’m hopeful and I’m always gonna be dancing somewhere,” Ewunes said. “Either way I’m gonna find a dancefloor and a DJ.”