Fans flock to final weekend for Silver Room Block Party: ‘This is what makes Chicago as dope as it is’

Festivalgoers showed up to bid farewell to the beloved street fest that has celebrated its love for house music from Wicker Park to Hyde Park.

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Dhe Di Beats performs Saturday during the last Silver Room Sound System Block Party at Oakwood Beach.

Dhe Di Beats performs Saturday during the last Silver Room Sound System Block Party at Oakwood Beach.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

The final Silver Room Sound System Block Party might have gotten off to a rough start after a powerful storm that blew through Chicago Friday night caused power issues and problems setting up the festival’s main stage that led to early performances being cut Saturday.

But people who showed up said they still had one last good time as they celebrated the longstanding festival’s swan song.

The dance music party held its last hurrah this weekend after 18 years in which it grew from its origins in a Wicker Park alley to become a giant South Side festival drawing tens of thousands of spectators to Hyde Park and later to Bronzeville’s lakefront.

Held again this year at Oakwood Beach, the festival was having its final day on Sunday.

Founder Eric Williams said difficulties making a profit and the amount of work involved in setting up the festival led to his decision to “lay this to bed” after a “good run.”

Kendra Sledge (right) sits with her friend Michelle Locke Saturday afternoon while waiting for performers to take the stage during the last Silver Room Sound System Block Party at Oakwood Beach.

Kendra Sledge (right) sits with her friend Michelle Locke Saturday afternoon while waiting for performers to take the stage during the last Silver Room Sound System Block Party at Oakwood Beach.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Kendra Sledge, who has attended the festival every year since it moved to Hyde Park in 2016, was there Saturday with 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.”

DJ Dhe Di Beats was the first to spin on the festival’s 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.”

Festival goers dance to the music during the last Silver Room Sound System Block Party at Oakwood Beach in the Bronzeville neighborhood, Saturday, July 29, 2023. | Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Festivalgoers — including performer DJ Dhe Di Beats — dance to the music Saturday during the last Silver Room Sound System Block Party at Oakwood Beach in Bronzeville.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

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 festival.

“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 a place to enjoy music. They’re therapeutic.

“I love to dance,” Ewunes said. “It’s my therapy. I just let it out, I’m a big kid at heart. Dancing is freedom.”

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Dee Ewunes (right) dances with Djedi Ohm Saturday during the last Silver Room Sound System Block Party at Oakwood Beach in Bronzeville.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

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DJ Mochi performs Saturday during the last Silver Room Sound System Block Party at Oakwood Beach in Bronzeville.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

DJ iLLest performs during the last Silver Room Sound System Block Party at Oakwood Beach in the Bronzeville neighborhood, Saturday, July 29, 2023. | Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

DJ iLLest performs Saturday during the last Silver Room Sound System Block Party at Oakwood Beach in Bronzeville.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

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People mill about Saturday with the Chicago skyline as a backdrop during the last Silver Room Sound System Block Party at Oakwood Beach in Bronzeville.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

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DJ Papa G performs Saturday during the last Silver Room Sound System Block Party at Oakwood Beach in Bronzeville.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Festival goers arrive at the last Silver Room Sound System Block Party at Oakwood Beach in the Bronzeville neighborhood, Saturday, July 29, 2023.

Festivalgoers arrive Saturday at the last Silver Room Sound System Block Party at Oakwood Beach in Bronzeville.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

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