House of Vans: SESSIONS
House of Vans: SESSIONS
PHOTOS BY CAMILLA FORTE
A small sign is the only indicator of what lies within an otherwise unidentified building
Behind a nondescript warehouse door lies the House of Vans
House of Vans is a hub of Chicago skater culture
The photo booth provides attendees with a way to document the night
The open bar serves complimentary Goose Island beer
At the heart of House of Vans are the shoes and the culture the brand represents
A spacious indoor open skate park is available for all to enjoy
Aaron Jasper, a local rapper , performed at the event
Chris Horace, the master of ceremonies who performs under the stage name F.A.B.L.E.
Bad Jokes from left to right: Dylan Fritz Mitch Stout, Brendyn Wirtz and Rocco Sabatino
SESSIONS is open to all ages, making the road diverse
Many attend SESSIONS with friends as a way to enjoy a fun and inexpensive night out
Bad Jokes performing songs from their recently released album "Too Fat to Sk8"
Rocco Sabatino and Mitch Stout
Spectators enjoy Aaron Jasper's music
Musical performances are held throughout, adding to the atmosphere of the open skate
Ron Simonte partakes in the open skate.
The open skate is a great opportunity for skaters of all skill levels to do what they love
Kiah Zellner-Smith and friends
Street canvas artist Shelby Rodeffer
There are multiple lounge areas throughout the venue for people to socialize and relax
Skaters and music lovers alike flocked to a spacious warehouse in the West Loop Wednesday night and were met with booming speakers, cavernous echoes of rolling wheels on concrete and the clatters of skateboarding tricks gone wrong.
The night was part of an ongoing event hosted by House of Vans Chicago called SESSIONS — a series of nights of free skating, live music and good vibes from 6 to 10 p.m Wednesdays at 113 N. Elizabeth St.
Located in venues around the world, House of Vans is a cultural hub of imagination, creative expression, artistry and of course, shoes.
In addition to the music showcase, the venue also features an open lounge area, a photobooth, professional live mural painting and open skate park access. SESSIONS also provides complimentary pizza and free Goose Island beer for those over 21.
“We’ve never had anything like this,” said Bad Jokes bassist Rocco Sabatino. “We get to play in this super cool place in front of all these people who are into this s—.”
SESSIONS provides a larger platform for local underground artists to gain exposure, introducing their music to individuals who wouldn’t normally listen to it.
Bad Jokes was formed in 2016 and includes Columbia College Chicago students Sabatino and Dylan Fritz, and College of DuPage students Mitch Stout and Brendyn Wirtz.
“Fast punky-punk, that’s our official genre,” Sabatino said.
“Nostalgic throwback garbage,” Mitch Stout corrected.
Rapper Aaron Jasper shared Bad Jokes’ sentiment of gratitude for the event. “It’s such a great opportunity, but not too many people know about it,” he said. “You only hear about it by word-of-mouth.”
SESSIONS is also an event for Chicago’s active skateboarding community, providing them with a space to socialize while doing what they love.
Ron Simonte, an active skater and skateboard blogger, was first invited to the House of Vans two years ago by his connections in Chicago’s skateboarding community. Simonte said coming to the event is a good way to “chill with the homies” while skateboarding and enjoying free beer.
Spectators said they were drawn to SESSIONS because of the ambiance and aesthetic.
“It’s good people watching, music and art. We always go to these kinds of things,” said Kiah Zellner-Smith, who came with friends seeking an indoor event to escape the cold Chicago winter.
Master of ceremonies Chris Horace, known as F.A.B.L.E., noted that the atmosphere was what drew him to the event.
“I like the inclusiveness,” Horace said. “It’s a pretty welcoming environment despite the hustle and bustle. It’s kind of like a mini city.”