After a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Silver Room Block Party returns this weekend, July 16th and 17th. Now in its 17th year, the Silver Room Block Party (SRBP) moved from the 53rd Street, Hyde Park location to the shores of Lake Michigan at Oakwood Beach on 39th Street. Block Party founder, Eric Williams said the move was needed to accommodate more people. “The last year we did it, it was filled to capacity, and it was too crowded. With us being gone for two years and the anticipation of the block party’s return, I couldn’t have it at the same location. Especially with COVID. It wouldn’t have been comfortable.” Williams continued, “I knew I wanted to keep it on the southside, and I wanted somewhere that was beautiful. The lakefront made sense. It’s a beautiful backdrop and we have plenty of space.
The Silver Room Sound System Block Party, founded in Chicago in 2002, is a multicultural, all-ages, music and arts festival and is known as a mainstay in Chicago summers. Its roots come from the historic sound system block parties in the Bronx that connected communities through music. Over the years, the block party has grown from a modest event for friends and family to an annual summertime event that attracts over 30K Chicago residents.
Williams said this year’s theme “Back Together Again” celebrates the power of community, arts and culture, and connection through music. The block party is bigger than ever before with five stages, a design pavilion celebrating Black designers and architects, a kids and family area, health and wellbeing activations, special beauty programming, a sports area with basketball, double dutch, and beach volleyball, a food court, and vendor village. This year’s block party also features a “ball” made popular with LGBTQ+ communities.
“The intention was to create something eclectic and diverse. It’s a way to think about the various aspects of not only the Black community but all communities. That’s why it’s intentionally created to be eclectic It gives us an opportunity to bring people together through art, culture, and music. People who may never be in the same room together. It gives people a chance to live outside their comfort zone.”-Eric Williams
This year’s block party keeps many of the same elements with a few restrictions. While guests are allowed to bring chairs, coolers and food are not allowed. Williams says these restrictions help subsidize ticket prices and support local businesses in the community.
“I look at the Silver Room Block Party as a community event and if we all pitch in together, we can keep this thing going”-Eric Williams
Two years ago, after the last block party, Williams hinted on social media that the Silver Room Block party would not return. When asked what prompted a change of heart, he said it was the community and their desire to gather again. “The last block party, I lost hundreds of thousands of dollars because it was free, and people did not donate. After two years of COVID, people told me they would be willing to pay a ticket price. I realized how important it is for us to have these kinds of cultural activations that bring us together. For me, it’s seeing the smiles of appreciation on people’s faces. It’s about love and us coming together safely to celebrate arts, culture, and community.”
Tickets for the Silver Room Block party are available in Single and Weekend Day passes with children under the age of 13 free when accompanied by an adult. For more information, please visit their website at www.silverroomblockparty.com.