This was originally intended as a sidebar in our August issue, but space restraints made it an awkward fit. It stands alone as a set piece pretty well, so here it is. -Ed.
1355 North Milwaukee was the famed address for some of the ’90s most notorious loft parties in Chicago – just the first four digits of the address was enough information for those plugged into the scene to know where to go. Tommie Sunshine on crowd control and a private show by Derrick Carter and Mark Farina in the days of Chicago’s loft scene:
“Someone recently posted a picture on the internet of 1355 N. Milwaukee and I must have stared at it for two hours. I spent so much time in that place that I was remembering every detail, every single detail.
“I remember this funny stunt they’d pull that never ceased to amaze me. Sometimes the place would get packed like a sardine can and it was brutal. Completely packed. This is pre-Red Dog and it was really the premiere place to hear proper House Music.
“Derrick [Carter] and Mark [Farina] were together and this is before they hit the fork in the road musically, when Derrick began to embrace New York and bring that Masters at Work sound into his own. And Mark – Mark was really into Murk and wasn’t far off from when he began to drift off to the West Coast, with trippy techno and spaced out music. 1355 was really ground zero for that.
“So Farina would be playing and there were just too many people for anyone to be having a good time. They would turn the lights on and announce that the cops were here. Immediately, about 40% of the crowd would leave. The lights would stay on for about 20 minutes, the place would empty out, and then Derrick would go on.
“They did this all the time! If you took too long to get out of there, then you’d see the trick and never get fooled again. Derrick would start to play and it was much more spacious with elbow room for everyone, when 20 minutes before it was hell – hundreds more people than could physically be put into that space.
“The first time I saw it I just started laughing. For everyone that stuck it out, you got a private show by Derrick Carter.”