Spirit Work

Spirit Work 

Thursday, May 4th 5:3-9:30PM

Free event, register to attend on Eventbrite

Panelists: Robert Williams, Rae Chardonnay, Blessotnio, David Chavez, M-Dok

Moderated by Abra Johnson 

“Spirit Work” emerged out of a theme from the exhibition Love Dancing: Archiving Chicago Nightlife hosted at Heaven Gallery. The exhibition was a collaboration with Equity Arts and the Chicago Black Social Culture Map Project CBSCM and featured three Chicago photographers Seed Lynn, Kymon Kyndred, Shay Turner, curated by Jeneca Onikoyi. Part of the exhibition’s programming was a panel titled “The Architects of the Party''. One lingering question posed by this panel was: As the original House music community is aging, how can we pass down the legacy and wisdom to the next generation? “Spirit Work” is a conversation that seeks to create a bridge between House music pioneers and emerging Chicago DJ’s to carry this cultural heritage into the future. The panel will bring together Robin Williams, the legendary creator of the Warehouse and the Music Box, David Chavez (Future Rootz), M-Doc (Tribe), Rae Chardonnay (Party Noire) and Blestonio (Fortune). As cultural workers and leaders, how do we create spaces for healing and liberation through House music?

This event is part of the Healing House series started in 2019 pre-pandemic by Heaven Gallery to reframe House music dancing as wellness outside of late night hours and not centered around alcohol. This series organically re-emerged at the end of CBSCM panels with DJ Duane Powell that turned the gallery into an early night dance party. Stay after the panel for a dance party with DJ Syko from Tribe

Robert Williams is a native of New York who came to Chicago and discovered a nearly non-existent club and party scene. Being an entrepreneurial-minded person, Williams decided to use his people skills and the club experience to create something unlike anything Chicago had ever seen. The result was the legendary club The Warehouse whose doors opened in 1977. He later owned another famous Chicago hot spot club called the Music Box .

Rae Chardonnay is a DJ, Sound Artist and Cultural Programs Producer based in Chicago. She is the Founder of Black Eutopia, a series of segmented programming intended to cultivate space for marginalized communities; and co-founder of the award winning Party Noire where joy for Black queer, trans and gender non-conforming people is centered. Since Rae began her DJ career, she’s been noted as one of Chicago’s Top 5 DJ’s by NPR, and Chicago’s Best DJ by the Chicago Reader.

Blesstonio (Antonio Robles Levine) is a Chicago-based DJ, classically trained musician, event/music producer, and dancer. Antonio is fascinated with club culture and has spent years studying and curating events in Chicago and Santa Barbara. His multicultural Puerto Rican, Black, and Jewish backgrounds lend him an attuned, eclectic ear ready to sonically compel audiences and create electric and magnetic dance floor experiences. Antonio is the co-founder and resident DJ of Fortune, a party series that centers dance as liberation and holds a safe space for the TQLGB+, Femme, Non Binary, BIPOC, and disabled communities.

David Chavez is an internationally recognized music curator quoted as being one of "Chicago's savviest cultural players" by the Chicago Tribune, a "world music concert impresario" by Chicago Public Radio, and #1 on Newcity's "Music 45: Who Keeps Chicago In Tune"

M-Dok (Marcus Elston), a Chicago born creative who derived his dj name through the elements of hip-hop as the artist (Merdok aka Murdok). M-Dok has helped direct and coordinate Shows for well known Chicago festivals such as: My House Music Fest, Chicago Michelada, Pilsen Taco Fest and the Team who brought Don Omar and Ivy Queen to Chicago.

Abra Johnson is the Education and Dramaturgical Coordinator, as well as a co-founding member of Honey Pot Performance (HPP). A proud Chicagoan and Westsider, she has held a variety of local educational activist posts for two decades. Currently, she is a tenured, Assistant Professor of Sociology and co-chair of Social Sciences at Malcolm X College, one of the City Colleges of Chicago (CCC), and a faculty member within the CCC/DePaul Bridge Program.

In collaboration with the MCA and Equity Arts