Rising from the masses of DJs and producers still populating Chicago’s famous house music scene, The Black Madonna stands out because she is always looking for a way to challenge the status quo. Frankie Knuckles and the rest of the Warehouse crew might have established Chicago as the birthplace of house back in ‘80s, but The Black Madonna and her crew at Smart Bar are the ones helping to keep the scene alive. She pays tribute to the genre’s early days by making sure house music remains a welcoming place for the outcasts, the non-conformers, and those who just want to dance.
Dance music needs riot grrrls. Dance music needs Patti Smith. It needs DJ Sprinkles. Dance music needs some discomfort with its euphoria. Dance music needs salt in its wounds. Dance music needs women over the age of 40 […] Dance needs cranky queers and teenagers who are really tired of this shit. Dance music needs writers and critics and academics and historians. Dance music needs poor people and people who don’t have the right shoes to get into the club […] Dance music does not need more of the status quo. – The Black Madonna
The Black Madonna also pays tribute to Chicago’s famed house history by continuously pushing the boundaries of what the genre sounds like. Not one to remain complacent, she spins old and new music from all sorts of dance subgenres. There’s an impressive quality in how seamlessly she can go from something like Latin beats to classic disco, blending diverse tracks together in an effortless way that never disturbs the flow of her sets. The one constant with The Black Madonna comes in the form of her exceptional mastery of the ones and twos.
She always seems to choose the perfect vinyl from her crates at the exact right moment, building walls of rhythms with her sets that aim to push everyone in the club up on their feet and grooving.
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Since 2013, The Black Madonna has served as the creative director at Chicago’s Smart Bar. Like The Black Madonna, Smart Bar has become known over the years for always being on the cutting edge of dance music, a reputation which has helped it stand the test of time as the oldest independent venue in the nation. Although Smart Bar managed to last over 30 years without a creative director, The Black Madonna’s position quickly became an integral part of the club. She breathed new life into Smart Bar by inviting groundbreaking acts like Honey Dijon and Honey Soundsystem to spin on its decks, injecting a strong dose of diversity to a genre that has been plagued by a certain level of monotony in recent years.
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The Black Madonna’s dedication to promoting inclusivity in dance music doesn’t just start and end on the dancefloor at Smart Bar. Recently, she partnered with Discwoman, a New York collective dedicated to promoting work by “cis women, trans women, and genderqueer talent in electronic music.” It was through this collective that The Black Madonna made her Mexico City debut, playing on a lineup featuring only non-male identifying DJs.
Now, The Black Madonna is gearing up for a triumphant return to Boston during Together Festival. She’ll be spinning at Middlesex Lounge on May 17, promoting inclusivity on the dancefloor and musical diversity through her genre spanning vinyl selections. Guarantee yourself a spot by picking up your festival passes today.