Our Chosen Few Experience – #4girlsandAboy…July 2014
For years I heard about the Chosen Few Picnic. Was told it was the biggest house music event on either coast. Everyone I had spoken with in the past said you just have to go to understand the experience as no one could articulate their emotions or feeling they had during their Chosen Few weekend.
When news broke of the sudden passing of the father of house, our beloved Frankie Knuckles, my friends and I decided to make the trek to Chicago for the picnic, figured if not any other year July 2014 would be the year. We called ourselves #4girlsandAboy coming from New York (Brooklyn & the Bronx) and Washington, DC. Prior to arriving our good friend DJ Lil Ray connected with some of his friends in Chicago. We wanted to get the skinny on what parties to attend, the necessary items needed for the picnic, etc. We wanted to be prepared. We are not newbies to party scene or outdoor parties, we wanted to come correct. Heck we’ve been partying for years here in New York and elsewhere, so we had an idea but getting right intel was crucial for us.
Thankfully Lil Ray connected us with the right folks. We were introduced to our Chicago hosts: Smitty, Jozanna and other DJ’s and began a Facebook inbox dialog. These guys downloaded us with information and we asked tons of questions. In a separate conversation we collectively decided what parties we were going to attend and how we were going to prepare for the “enormous” outdoor event. We honor the outdoor party etiquette, we are not just going to show up with a water bottle and towel.
Our crew purchased plane tickets, picnic tickets (BTW, strongly suggest the VIP package which was offered this year for the first time, well worth it, comes with 10×10 tent space, two tickets and a parking space), booked our rental cars (yes you need one for the picnic), made housing arrangements and a list of all the items we needed to have a successful weekend. We arrived in “Cheecago” as we termed it between Wednesday and Thursday, and hit up Target, Salvation Army, hardware, liquor and grocery stores. We purchased lounge chairs, blankets, a table, deposable grills; any and everything one could have for a picnic. We were ready. On July 4th the organizers of the picnic allowed those with VIP access to set up their tents the day before. Let me reiterate the VIP package is worth it. Seriously these folks are organized. For every package purchased upon arrival “the day before” you receive a stake with your name on it to claim your real estate space in the VIP section for your tent and there was OVERNIGHT security to watch over what we called “tent city”. Thankfully our “boy” from #4girlsandAboy claimed our spot and let’s just say it was prime real estate space. Friday night after the fireworks into the early morning hours the cooking began and packing. We were prepping like we were going to Soul Summit or Jamboree. Our crew knows how to do outdoor parties.
Saturday morning, up early and head to Chosen Few Picnic. We arrive at 10:30 a.m. and some considered us late. BTW, party goes from 8-8 so by the time we arrive we were late. We were the last in our area to set up. Folks start lining up as early as 3-4 in the morning. Yeah that early. As a New York club head it’s not unusual for us to the club anywhere from 4 to 9 in the morning, but didn’t think the Chicago folks were that serious.
No lie there were tons of people everywhere. Parking lots were full, people are unloading triple-decker grills, flatbeds of aluminum pans of food, generators and tents… “Yo, is this Woodstock or something?” Basically these folks have taken an outdoor picnic to a level larger than a family reunion gathering. We look at our car and start unloading. Again mind you we still haven’t fully entered the park. Let’s just say from this point I have no idea what to expect. Truly puzzled by everything and started thinking hmmm we probably have not done party outdoors like this…
The deeper we walk into the park the more and more people we saw and the music…I’ll get to that in a minute, needless to say we had arrived. #4girlsandaboy finally made it to the Chosen Few picnic. And the closer we got the more tents we saw and the louder the music. The tents looked like condominiums. Folks had blow-up futon loungers, recliner beach chairs, real estate spaces of 2 to 3 10×10 spaces, massive buffet style food set up. There were vendors but heck with the racks of food, the aroma of downhome, home-cooked bbq and every picnic food you could think and the sophisticated tent set-ups the vendors seemed invisible. Were we speechless…ahhh yeah! It was overwhelming we did not exchange one word with each other as we were in awe of our surroundings.
As we were approaching our tent space which was separated by fencing these kind folks just walked right over and started lifting our belonging and handing it over the fence to other half of our crew. We knew, we just knew okay we see you Chicago, this is a lovefest, our tent neighbors are friendly, welcoming and helpful. They just smiled and helped. THANK YOU.
The music was pumping. PERIOD. The DJ line up was sick and the music old and new was fierce. Yeah we got our life at the picnic. As we unpacked we danced. Clearly we are not from there and our friendly neighbors knew and watched us. They watched as we unpacked, sang, set up and twirled all the while. We were dancing laying out blankets, dipping to the ground as we set up chairs oh and we poured and poured some more yes the cocktails were lovely and we set up our disposable grill (check your local hardware store). Let’s just say our neighbors we impressed. They offered their grill space if we needed and graciously welcomed us in their space. Our Chicago host were the F*ING BOMB! Smitty and guys were so on point looking out for us every step of the way.
And now that we were in the mix of everything we still had not hit the main space…NO PEOPLE we are still in VIP tent city, there are tents outside our space and there’s a dance space, space for chair set up only w/o tents, stage space, sponsor space, merchandise. Yeah it’s serious. We are still some yards away but close to all the goings on. So we have no idea yet of the magnitude of this picnic. At this point we are just surrounded by rows and rows of tents. To avoid getting lost we hung a large Puerto Rican flag outside our tent so we could find our way back. Yeah like that many tents…
So after set up it’s time to explore this party. It’s time to hit the masses. Thankfully the VIP had its own entrance/exit to the main space. Let’s just say…our eyes were wide open, no words. Okay I get it now…no way could we have imagined that many people in one park. We were told over 30,000 had attended. And they are dancing, there’s concert size stage, DJ’s are turning it out, 2 arena size large screens on either side of the stage. “Okay THIS IS freaking Woodstock for House Heads.” There were seas of people as far as our eyes could see and from what we could not see the large screens showed us. It was incredible. The energy was to the sky. The music was insane. The performers were great. The weather was perfect. “You just had to be there”.
There is not one downside to this picnic. My crew and I have been to many outdoor events and Chosen Few Picnic truly surpassed all our expectations. The beautiful gorgeous people, the music, oh did I mention the bathrooms…yes darlings, the bathrooms, I didn’t tell you about the bathrooms??? Okay let’s just say it was the best damn port-a-potty system we’ve ever seen.
They were clean and continued to be cleaned by staff throughout the day. And there were portable sinks with soap. Most of us have been to outdoor events and the idea of going to a port-a-potty sounds repulsive and our usual expectations are they are gross well because they are, no hunty these were not your usual untidy death traps with the fragrance of death. Nope not at the Chosen Few Picnic. Yeah the parks department, staff, etc. gets HUGE HUGE kudos for clean restroom facilities.
So our crew #4girlsandaboy danced, ate, drank, met tons of great people and had ourselves a ball. We wrapped up our day at 7:30pm. We were partied out and could do no more. At least that night…On Sunday we found ourselves at the marina for a day-after party which started in the afternoon and went until midnight.Again, no words. The DJ’s turned were on point, the people were awesome and dancing on a marina overlooking the water and beautiful boats with food and drink in hand…how do you think we were feeling…
Lovely hon feeling LOVE-LY! So folks just take my advice forget my experience because I’m only giving you the surface stuff. #4girlsandAboy got a backstory that is much more juicier and filled with lots and lots of laughs, but that’s none of y’all’s business. I say take your asses to Chosen Few next year and find out for yourselves if the picnic gives you life. When you do, let me know if you can put your experience into words.