Our award-winning marching band and color guard entertains nearly one million spectators annually at parades and events. This ensemble embodies the vision of the original Chicago Gay Pride Band, which formed in 1979 as one of the first LGBT bands of its kind.

Annual events include Chicago Disability Pride ParadeChicago Memorial Day Parade, and Chicago Pride Parade, among others. Members have also performed in other U.S. cities and overseas with the Lesbian and Gay Band Association. These include the Gay Games, the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade in New York City, and the Inauguration of President Barack Obama.

Our marching season runs from April to September, with rehearsals on Sundays from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. typically at Northside College Prep High School, 5501 N. Kedzie, Chicago. The tour schedule for the marching band and color guard is determined in April at the beginning of the season.

All members and friends of the LGBT community are welcome to perform with us. If you can play a musical instrument, we can teach you to march wave at the crowd!

We’d love to have you join our ranks!

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If you’d like to have some questions cleared up before making a commitment, though, read on below.

Questions & Answers

Who is Lakeside Pride and what do you do?

Lakeside Pride Music Ensembles is Chicago’s premier family of performance groups for members and friends of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. The Lakeside Pride Marching Band was founded in 1997, embodying the vision of the original Chicago-based Great Lakes Freedom Marching Band, which formed in 1979 as one of the first LGBT bands of its kind.

Can I participate if I don’t identify as LGBT?

All members and friends of the LGBT community are welcome to perform with us. About a quarter of our membership are straight, cis-gender allies.

What’s the time commitment?

We typically rehearse Sundays late April through late June from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm. All of our rehearsals and performances, including locations, are listed on our calendar.

When are rehearsals and performances?

They’re all listed on our calendar.

Do I have to attend all of the rehearsals and performances?

We request that you not miss more than three rehearsals and make an effort to attend all performances.

We realize that summer weekends and holidays are precious, though, and needing to miss more rehearsals or some performances may be unavoidable. The most important thing is for your section leader to know in advance what you can and cannot commit to.

What does membership cost?

Marching-only Lakeside Pride membership is $50. Membership in all of our ensembles ranges from $90 to $120.

Payment plans and need-based concessions are available.

Can I try before I commit?

You are welcome to participate in the initial rehearsals without having paid dues.

What if I don’t have a car to get to rehearsal or performances?

Our rehearsal sites and most performances are accessible by public transit, Uber, Lyft, and taxi.

If that isn’t workable – we understand you’re probably traveling with an instrument – we encourage you to get in touch. There might be another member in your area we can pair you with.

What if I don’t have an instrument?

Most musicians bring their own instruments.

For some instruments, like sousaphones, mellophones, and everything percussion, Lakeside Pride has a small number of instruments that are available for members to use.

In rare instances, a member may have an instrument available to lend to another member.

Are uniforms provided?

Membership dues include the use of our uniforms. We have one with your name on it!

What if I don’t think I’m physically up to marching?

We’re a nonprofit community band with members ranging in ages from under 18 to over 60, with a variety of physical abilities. We keep this diversity in mind when we plan water breaks, how many performances we commit to, and any special movements or dances during the parades.

March what you’re able but take care of yourself – there’s no shame in hopping onto the support van as needed.

If you’re a person with a physical disability, we’d be honored to include you in our ensemble.

What if I haven’t played for a while?

Many of our members have had decades-long gaps in their performing history. We understand you’ll be rusty – there’s no shame in taking it down an octave, dropping out and letting the rest of your section cover for you, or doing whatever works for you. Your section will be friendly and helpful and do their best to get you back in the groove of things. A few years in, when you’ve got your chops back, we just ask you help other newbies remember how it all works, too.

Do I have to memorize music? Is there drill to learn?

Nope. We play from a lyre and we march parades. We usually throw some goofy move into the middle of one song or another along the parade route, though.

What music do you play?

Our 2017 set list will consist of Andy Clark’s Sweet Home Chicago, Jay Bocook’s Olympic Fanfare and Theme, Paul Lavender’s Patriotic Parade Sequence, and Freeman and Zurcher’s Lakeside Pride Armed Forces Medley. This year’s drumline cadence is Keown’s Things That Make You Go Drum. Other repertoire includes Ward’s America The Beautiful, Paul Lavender’s The Hey Song, Lady Gaga’s Born This Way, Katy Perry’s Firework, and everyone’s favorite We Are Family.

What should I bring to rehearsal?

Bring a hat, sunscreen, bottled water, a lyre with flip folders, and a pencil.

I still have questions!

Ask away! marching@lakesidepride.org

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