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“Follow Me”: Equiticity leads a joyous House Music Ride through Chicago’s South Side

The House Music Ride heads towards Daley’s Restaurant, Chicago’s oldest eatery, and the Cottage Grove Green Line station. Photo: John Greenfield

This year the mobility justice nonprofit Equiticity has had a packed schedule of Community Mobility Rituals. These are regularly scheduled walking tours and bike rides designed to help strengthen neighborhoods by fostering a sense of camaraderie among residents, while encouraging healthy physical activity and community exploration. Here are some of the offerings:

The Magic of Music Ride Series held in cooperation with the Chicago Park Distric, is particularly intriguing. These bike tours take place on the fourth Friday of the month from May to October, meeting each time at a different park at 6 p.m., and riding from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. "The goal of these rides is to reconnect people with their local parks through conversations, activities, and music that is culturally relevant to the people who call the neighborhoods home," Equiticity stated. Each ride highlights a different genre of Black and/or Latino music, with live DJs spinning throughout the trip.

Poster for the Magic of Music Ride Series.
Poster for the Magic of Music Ride Series.
Poster for the Magic of Music Ride Series.

Rides that took place earlier this year have included Latinx Music: Humboldt Park, Old School Music: Mandrake Park, and Hip Hop Music: Douglass Park. Last Friday, August 26 was House Music: Hamilton Park, highlighting the globally popular genre of dance music pioneered in Chicago, featuring an insistent four-on-the-floor beat, and often positive, optimistic lyrics. Hamilton Park is a historic green space at 513 W. 72nd St. in the predominantly African-American Englewood neighborhood.

I caught up with the ride in Washington Park, a group of a dozen or so bike riders led by Equiticity founder Oboi Reed, towing a giant Bluetooth speaker pumping out uplifting sounds as participants grooved to the music on their bicycles. As we proceeded down busy King Drive, the actual source of the music became apparent: The two DJs perched in the back of a flatbed truck.

One of the most fun things about the ride was how it instantly activated the areas it passed through. People hanging out on the street or waiting for a bus at first looked surprised by the booming music and group of mostly Black and Latino folks on bikes, and then delighted, moving their bodies to the beat. It was clear that the experience had brightened their day.

Afterwards back at Hamilton Park, participants shared their thoughts on the experience. Elise Greene-Williams, an elementary school who lives in the Galewood neighborhood, attended with her friends Kay Cook, a nurse who resides in the Beverly community, and Yvette Estelle, a legal contract analyst who lives in south-suburban Homewood-Flossmoor. "I loved the ride," Greene-Williams said. "It was relaxing, relieving the stress of the week. I love the music, it pumped me up. I'm a househead, so that was like, real good."

and Kay Cook.
Elise Greene-Williams, Yvette Estelle, and Kay Cook. Photo: John Greenfield
and Kay Cook.

Danielle McKinnie, an electronic medical records instructor who lives in south-suburban Blue Island and helps lead Southside Critical Mass, seconded that. "The music was great, the people were having fun, everyone was engaged. I really liked that I got to see more of Washington Park, because I haven't been deep in there since I was a kid. It's really pretty and it's under-used."

McKinnie is also an old-school house fan. "Yes since the real WBMX in the '80s: Farley 'Jackmaster' Funk, Julian 'Jumpin' Perez, Hot Mix 5, so it really took me back."

Rick Rosales, who manages the Magic of Music ride series ride series for Equiticity, said the goal of the events is "to create a very vibrant, positive environment where people bring their bikes out and we roll through neighborhoods and we visit the various parks in that neighborhood... Some of these neighborhoods have experienced disproportionate levels of violence, so to see something positive and vibrant come through their neighborhood, people start smiling, they start dancing, they start waving at us. So it's just kind of spreading the joy."

Ride participants. Photo: John Greenfield
Ride participants including Rosales (red shirt), McKinnie (Equiticity jersey), and Reed (white helmet.) Photo: John Greenfield
Ride participants. Photo: John Greenfield

Here are the last two Magic of Music rides of the season:

Afro LatinX & Reggaeton Music: Garfield Park 

Friday, September 23, 2022

100 N. Central Park Avenue

R&B Music: Jackson Park 

Friday, October 28, 2022

6401 S. Stony Island Avenue

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