Where to Celebrate Cinco de Mayo in Chicago

It has been a while since I last posted, but I am back to tell you where to celebrate the next big holiday in Chicago. Historically, Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican holiday that commemorates the victory of Mexico over France in the battle of Puebla in 1862. This holiday, however, is more popular in the United States than in Mexico. Why? Changing demographics and the enormous repercussion this victory had on the outcome of the U. S. Civil War. Some historians state that had Mexico not defeated the French in Puebla, France would have gone to the aid of the Confederacy in the U.S. Civil War and the United States’ destiny would have been different. Nowadays, Cinco de Mayo’s historical significance got lost in time and the holiday is more of a cultural celebration of everything Mexican and and an excuse to party than anything else. 

Chicago holds one of the largest Mexican-American communities in the country and the city offers many choices to celebrate on May 5. However, out of all those options, my recommendation is to network and socialize with a great organization that will be hosting a huge Mexican-American celebration in Chicago: the Cinco de Mayo event put on by HispanicPro at the Godfrey Hotel. HispanicPro is the premier networking organization for Hispanic professionals in Illinois and the largest producer of networking events targeting the Hispanic professional community in Chicago. It’s free to join, you get access to some of the coolest venues in Chicago and meet interesting people from different professions. I was invited to their April event at Ronero, and while enjoying some light food and beverages, I had an interesting conversation with the president of the Chicago Symphony Latino Alliance (CSLA). CSLA is another great organization that hosts pre Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert networking events with special guest artists who give insights into the evening’s concert. I learned a lot about their membership (it’s free!) and some of the interesting events they offer. If HispanicPro hadn’t invited me to their professional event, I would never have learned about this unique experience from CSLA. HispanicPro functions are not only great for networking, professional tips, and discovering unique opportunities, they’re also festive events to attend. The music and the conga player at the end of the event I attended had many of us going to the networking floor and turning it into a dance floor. This organization definitely strikes the perfect balance between function and fun. If you want to find out more about them and their upcoming Cinco de Mayo event, visit their website.

A couple of days later, on May 7 at noon, head to the Cinco de Mayo Parade in Little Village, one of the signature Mexican neighborhoods in Chicago and home to more people of Mexican ancestry than any other community in the Midwest. It is one of the largest Cinco de Mayo celebrations in the city. The parade goes from Cermak Rd. and Damen Ave to Marshall Blvd. By the way, did you know that Little Village retail strip is the second highest grossing shopping district in Chicago after glamourous Michigan Avenue? Now that you know, on Cinco de Mayo, let’s raise our Margaritas and make a toast for the brave Mexican and Mexican-American people who contributed and keep contributing to the greatness of the United States of America.

 

 

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The Day I Fell in Love with House Music – Chicago Pays Tribute to Frankie Knuckles

“I think dancing is one of the best things anyone can do for themselves. And it doesn’t cost anything,” Frankie Knuckles.

Honestly, I have heard of House music before and paid an occasional visit to Smart Bar, but never really connect with it…until a couple of days ago, when I attended this epic dance party that the city of Chicago threw to celebrate the life of the Godfather of House music, Frankie Knuckles, who recently passed away. Chicago got together, danced and partied in peace. People from all ages and walks of life were present and created a happy, captivating energy! Check a little bit of the party’s awesomeness in this video:

This type of events make me love this beautiful city even more (yes, I love you Chicago – can you tell by all the bragging I do about you?), AND they also awaken my curiosity. So, I talked to David Chavez from Sound Culture, to get some answers about the House music culture in Chicago. He is also a Music Program Coordinator for the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events of the City of Chicago and was one of the brains behind this historic tribute. Here he is sharing his perspective about the House music phenomenon:

What is House music to you?
From a sociological perspective, House music to me is the product of a cultural and socio-economic time in the city, reflective of what was going on in Chicago during the 70’s and early 80’s. An alternative to the stranglehold of a segregated city, the height of 1970’s white flight and economic decay, and the backlash of black popular dance music, Disco.

From a human experience perspective, it was and still is Church for a lot of people, whatever that means to you. A safe space of acceptance to come as you are and celebrate life together without regard to race, class, or sexual orientation. It’s a release of energy and a spiritual recharge all at once. It’s a community that became a culture.

Off the top of my head I can’t really explain it another way, and any Chicago House head would agree, and expand on what I’m trying to say here.

What is the significance of House Music in Chicago?
House Music was born and developed here in Chicago and revolutionized electronic dance music globally. It’s part of our Chicago musical heritage next to Jazz, Blues, and Gospel.

Who was Frankie Knuckles and why did the City of Chicago host a dance party in his honor?
Frankie Knuckles was a DJ and producer who, in the mid to late 70’s, developed the sound that we call House Music today. His continued innovations and influence on DJ’s and producers around the world cemented the House sound. He is the “Godfather of House” and an ambassador for our city.

What places would you recommend visiting to immerse in the House music culture in Chicago?
Go to Gramophone Records, pick up 5 Magazine and read about the scene and various daily club events happening, attend the Chosen Few Picnic 4th of July weekend, and listen to mixes on deephousepage.com.

I hope the City of Chicago realizes that there is a need to have an event celebrating House music every year. After all, as David Chavez said, it is part of our musical heritage, and it is a global musical phenomenon that originated in Chicago. Events such as the dance party tribute to Frankie Knuckles – being held in public spaces at no charge – encourage integration and help promote the city as a global cultural destination. Kudos Chicago, you scored big with this one!

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Tonight:Come to the best Brazilian Carnival party in Chi-Town!


BRAZILIAN CARNIVAL 2011 at MAYNE STAGE

Last year, I had the fortune to be in Rio de Janeiro for carnival. This is one of the biggest celebrations in the world and something you should experience at least once in your life. The entire city stops its regular activities and parties for days. I took this picture at the Sambodromo during  the wee hours of the night.  As you can see, the place was packed and the people were exhilarating, dancing and singing non-stop. To me, carnival is the ultimate expression of what it is to be Brazilian. This year,  I cannot be in Rio,  but  since I am in beautiful Chicago, I have the chance to party Brazilian style with the local musicians and dancers. I am planning on attending this fabulous Carnival celebration. Don’t miss it! It promises to be the best party in town.

*** Swing Brasileiro will be playing the best of Brazilian Carnival. A lot of Marchinhas, Sambas, Batucada and more ****

Carnival costume dance performance by Passistas Samba Dancers and Special performance by Gingarte Capoeira.

Vallet Parking: Only $5

Caipirinha special $ 5.00

Beers $ 3.50 and up

Cover: $15 if purchased in advance and 20$ at the door
Buy your tickets now!!!!!
http://ow.ly/48uf6

18 and older to enter. MUST be 21 and older to drink alcohol.