For those who love to bathe in the nostalgia of the 1970s, Chicago’s Soul Train reunion party this Labor Day weekend rolled in to meet those expectations.In celebration of the show’s 40th anniversary, fans were treated to a Soul Train party Friday night; a showing of the VH1 documentary, “The Hippest Trip in America,” with a panel discussion featuring the train operator Don Cornelius, director of the documentary J. Kevin Swain, and CEO of Soul Train Holdings, Kenard Gibbs; an exhibition of photos and footage from the show at the 72 Expo; and a free concert at the Pavilion in Millenium Park with Chicago’s legends: The Emotions, Jerry Butler, Tom Tom 84, Gene Chandler, and the Chi-Lites performing.
But why should Chicago get this treat?
Most people don’t know about the show’s humble roots as a daily live show in Chicago before making it in Los Angeles and eventually becoming the longest-running first-run syndicated show in television history.
It was in Chicago that Cornelius, with the hip clothing that would become his signature on the LA show, made a name for himself and for Chicago’s rich musical talent on the daily black-n-white television show. The set was housed on the 43rd floor of the Chicago Board of Trade in a 10’ by 10’ space with a faulty air conditioner—so hot that some of the local dancers would often get nauseous.
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