On the evening of June 23, hundreds of people gathered on Navy Pier to watch musicians and models walk through the history of queer clubs.
"Queer the Pier"an event from Kristen Kaza, the co-producer of Reunion Chicago and co-founder of Slo 'Mo Partywas part of a full day of Navy Pier's pride programming.
Local R&B vocalist Adam Ness owned the stage as he, along with guests, gave stunning homages to many disco classics. In a short hour and a half, Ness and other performers sang tunes such as Cheryl Lynn's "Got to be Real," Diana Ross' "I'm Coming Out" and ABBA's "Dancing Queen," among others.
Next, the fashion show hit the runway as performers modeled looks running the gamut of queer-club couture. Models emerged in items such as '80s-inspired tank-top ringers; full-bodied gold sequin suits; and BDSM-inspired leather ensembles. A model's walk was accompanied by a history lesson, as the audience was reminded that queer clubs often served as a testing ground for new hits, and that voguers organized HIV testing in the underserved South Side.
Lastly, the infectiously joyous Cece Peniston took the stage on the 20th anniversary of her queer anthem, "Finally." She jokingly confronted the reality of her age ( 48 ), saying she didn't want anyone to accuse her of being 60 after the show. However, she held the crowd with every bit of energy possible, inviting crowd members to dance onstage, and having the crowd to belt the chorus to another hit, "We Got a Love Thang," back at her.
Queer the Pier ended with a fireworks show over the lake, and the host urged audience members to take the positive energy of Queer the Pier back into their communities.