A brilliantly curated new festival makes its debut in Chicago this summer. ARC touches down in Union Park September 4-5, 2021 with a stellar lineup that traverses the chasm between the sub-genres of house and techno. House music was created in Chicago when Black, Brown, and Queer communities sought to create inclusive spaces that transcend socio-political boundaries. It’s remarkable for a festival of this caliber to make its home in Chicago.
ARC Festival’s Joe Calderone says, “The goal of the festival is to bridge the gap between sub genres of house music and techno.” A message of unity that should be well received after a year without dance floors.
He explains that the goal of unification is greater than sub-genre classifications, “to bridge the gap between cultures of house music and techno, new school and old school, the casual fan and the techno tourist.” Because of course, all are welcome and everyone deserves a safe space to dance.
The inaugural edition of the festival will be a weekend of firsts topped off with a Eric Prydz triple play. It’s the first time in North America that Prydz will play as all three of his legendary aliases. He headlines Sunday under his given name in what will surely be a nostalgia-inducing set. Then he’ll join techno titan and Drumcode head honcho, Adam Beyer on Sunday as Cirez-D for a proper techno workout. It’s the first time these two have performed together in over two years, and their only festival appearance this year. Finally, Prydz will dive deep into his discography to wrap up the festival for an emotive set as Pryda at the official closing party.
Also making their debuts in Chicago are Italian queen of techno Deborah de Luca and godfather of Chile’s dance music scene, Luciano.
Elrow, the flamboyant experiential Spanish event brand will bring the spectacle to Chicago for the first time. Their colorful performers and next-level shenanigans can only be experienced properly with a full stage takeover. Elrow isn’t for spectators, it’s a fan-focused experience that makes the dancefloor the center of the action. Pre-COVID they touched down in 50 cities worldwide. Be ready for Cirque du Soleil meets warehouse rave vibes.
ARC’s goal of building bridges is clear in the programming. From the poignant progressive of Camelphat to the shuffle-ready party tech house of Fisher. Will Clarke’s funky warehouse techno to Eli & Fur’s cascading synths and evocative vocals. ARC succeeds in building space for all of the diversity that makes dance music history compelling and all-encompassing.
Chicago and Detroit built the foundation of house and techno. And ARC pays homage to the architects with a lineup of world-class homegrown talent. It’s hard to imagine a genre-defining lineup that doesn’t include veteran names like Dj Heather, Gene Farris, Dj Pierre, Derrick Carter, and Dj Holographic. All of whom have contributed so much to the culture.
There’s a compelling narrative in the idea that ARC makes Chicago a home with this kind of lineup. The last decade has seen the American festival scene dominated by EDM. It’s created a widespread community of dancers eager to dive further into dance music's nascent sounds. However, until now we haven’t achieved the level of sophistication in curation that you might see in places like the UK, Amsterdam, or Ibiza.
Calderone says, “The textbook definition of an arc as something that joins two points. The significance in the name, is that ARC will be what bridges the divide in the overall electronic music scene and brings everyone together.”
ARC is a sign that the US dance music community is ready to realign itself with the roots of house and techno. EDM allowed stateside audiences to readopt a culture that was born in Chicago. Festivals like ARC prove that dance music has come full circle. It’s beautiful to see an appetite to make space for the classic sounds of house and techno to co-exist with all the beauty that it has birthed.