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Morning Spew

Soul Summit Is Still the Best Party in New York

Organizers said the free, outdoor house music festival won't be back in Fort Greene park until next year.

9:50 AM EDT on August 7, 2023

(Hell Gate)

Sunday evening, house music was emanating from the top of the hill at Fort Greene park in Brooklyn. From all around, you could hear the sound of four-on-the-floor. Vendors were chanting "ice cold!" to the beat of the bass drum, and selling nutcrackers to the dancing crowd tightly packed on the plaza. 

It was the Soul Summit DJ collective's twenty-first year throwing the free, ad-hoc house music festival in the park. The festival used to be held most Sundays in the summer, but yesterday's event was the just the second Fort Greene Soul Summit of this year. The last one, in July, was really something, with rain cooling off the dance floor twice. 

Sunday's party, as typical for the festival, brought crowds of all different ages: house music veterans and young guns partied together—one auntie sitting in a lawn chair wore a shirt that said, "House music will save the world," and drummers stationed beneath shady trees augmented the beat.

To younger dancers, the songs were mysterious, drowned in reverb and impossible to know,  but the elders taught through example how to engage with soul house–you'd see a brolic shirtless dude in his 50s with one gold hoop earring, bouncing up and down to some soul screamer and it would somehow transmit house music history straight to your spine. Even the nutcracker vendors were dancing at full tilt. Down the hill, by a water fountain, some festival goers laid out on blankets and chatted on the lawn. 

By 8 p.m., the sun was mostly down, and it was time to go. "We're keeping soulful house music alive," co-founder Sadiq Bellamy announced from the makeshift stage, "believe it or not we are Soul Summit music." The organizers thanked the 88th NYPD Precinct and Eric Adams, and there was some light booing. "Hey, we need sponsorship," Bellamy shrugged. Next, they thanked Letitia James, who is now the state attorney general but who was once the councilmember for the district surrounding the park, and the audience cheered.

Milling around by the stage afterwards, an old head bragged that he knew the Soul Summit crew when they were—he held out his hand—"this high," and selling cassette tapes with house music mixes on them. I caught up with Bellamy and thanked him for the show, and asked if they'll be back in the park again this year. He said he didn't think so, but they would be having paid shows at venues like Elsewhere and House of Yes.

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