"If you don't ask the questions, you won't learn the knowledge."

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19 | Lady Sol, Part 1: The Intro

Looking back on my own dance journey, and hearing others tell their own stories through this platform, I’ve learned how challenging trying to condense someone’s dance journey into even just 7 or 8 pages can be. 

For a lot of us, that dance journey could be 5, 10, or even 20 years long....but how do you capture 3 decades (and counting) of dance? How do you capture a journey that steeps deep into 90s house and hip hop culture in Chicago and New York City? A journey that intertwines with the dance industry in LA, with artists like Busta Rhymes, Wyclef Jean, Madonna, or Twista? A journey that involves bringing Chicago’s footwork scene to the global stage through the FootworKINGz? Or cultivating a space for dancehall and reggae dance to thrive in our city?

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It’s a challenge that Leida “Lady Sol’ Garcia-Mukwacha is excited to tackle. 

When I walk into Bridgeport Coffee in Hyde Park, LadySol is already posted up in the corner of the cafe, sitting with a coffee and a thick booklet entitled Lady Sol’s Dance Diary (Vol. 1): #MasTequilaPlease. It’s the script for her upcoming show at Chicago’s Hip Hop Theater Fest this weekend, and according to LadySol, this is the third or fourth draft already. Looking at the script, it seems like this draft isn’t the final one either; Lady Sol’s notes spread all over the pages. 

It’s difficult to share every minute detail into a single show: to begin thinking about how to best capture her journey, Lady Sol started with a list of stories and anecdotes throughout her life, and from there, it’s about selecting and highlighting just a handful of stories to offer audiences a glimpse into her professional and personal dance journey. 

Covering Lady Sol’s first decade or so throughout the 90s, this first volume is just a “handshake”, an intro to a longer conversation with Lady Sol to ask more questions. For her - that dialogue is key to continuing the culture:

“If you don’t ask the questions, you won’t learn the knowledge.”

In similar fashion to Lady Sol’s upcoming show, this Chicago Dynamic post is just the handshake - the introduction to the cast and characters for a lot of Lady Sol's journey. The second feature will go into the first decade of Lady Sol's journey as she jumps into house and hip hop culture, with the final part going into her immersion in reggae and dancehall to today! But first! Go see the show! The next two parts will be released this upcoming week. 😁

Highlighting our history

Before I get into any more details about Lady Sol’s own story, she notes the importance of highlighting the dance inspirations who have influenced her work and the dance practitioners who Lady Sol has learned heavily from. 

One of the flyers crafted by Regnoc (now known as Reggie Know), who really set the party people tone for Dem Dare in the 90s.

One of the flyers crafted by Regnoc (now known as Reggie Know), who really set the party people tone for Dem Dare in the 90s.

Lady Sol: "I think that's so important. If we don't mention that part of our history, then we are slightly disrespecting those other practioners and innovators, if you will.

So in Chicago: I have to shout out Dem Dare, they were a crew of DJs, dancers, and  visual artists who really spawned the hip-hop party movement in Chicago. Clay “Doh” Shubert was one of my dance teachers, and ReggieKnow/Regnoc was a big part of influencing visually what Dem Dare looked like on flyers, in photos, fashion - that's all hip hop culture. It's all part of it. Shoutout to DJ Twilite Tone - he was like the main DJ. He also happened to be the main person who mentored DJ Timbuck2 (Rest in Peace). So along with Dem Dare, DJ Kamikaze - they were like my house foundation for dance. 

In New York City, I gotta give love to Leslie “Big Lez” Segar, and again there are so many - Buddha Stretch, Caleaf “Big Leaf” Sellers, Voodoo Ray (Rest in Peace), Eddie Morales.

On the west coast side: Poppin Chuck, BBoy Remind and Style Elements. I'm going to say dominantly that's my west coast. 

For Reggae dancehall culture: Ding Dong from Ravers Klavers, Jessica Phoenix, Global Bob, Da Professor, and Ninja White.

...and of course Rennie Harris - PureMovement. He inspired the idea of having an all-male cast for me, which became the FootworKINGz

And just seeing all these individuals who have played a part in Lady Sol's growth and exploration, we can start seeing just how immersive and expansive her story is going to be. So cheers! I can't wait for you to see what we've got cooking in the oven for these next two posts!