Dancing, DJs and art: Waterfront day party raises money for Philadelphians experiencing homelessness

The inaugural Hands Up Music Fest is coming to Penn Treaty Park.

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Pheed Philly / Instagram
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Want to spend a gorgeous autumn day dancing your heart out on the Delaware River waterfront? Here’s one better: want to help raise money for people experiencing homelessness while doing it?

Let’s set the scene: the sun is beaming and you’re grooving to tunes from internationally known DJ Cosmo Baker. Artists are live painting and the scene is decorated with Amberella’s viral “power heart” wheatpastes. Beats from DJ Royale and Deana Sophia keep the party going til sundown, as the light glints off the Ben Franklin Bridge, and everyone shares in the warm glow that comes from partying with a purpose.

The inaugural Hands Up Music Festival brings all this to Penn Treaty Park on Sunday, Oct. 13.

Thrown in partnership with local record company QR8ER, it’s the first public event hosted by Pheed Philly, a grassroots nonprofit with a mission to improve the quality of life for Philadelphians living on the street.

Pheed was launched January 2018 by friends and city residents Sarah Magazzo and Francine Abel. Magazzao, 34, was out one bitterly cold winter night and couldn’t stop thinking about about those who didn’t have the luxury of escaping the frost. Around the same time, Francine, 33, was wrestling with the same thoughts. They decided to do something to help.

Over the past two years, their growing volunteer team has distributed almost 500 self-care bags during quarterly delivery sessions. The packages are stuffed with gloves, hats, scarves, blankets, freshly-made sandwiches, snacks and toiletries.

Each bag costs about $20. Magazzo hopes to help Pheed increase its homelessness outreach by raising $10,000 with the Hands Up fest, she said.

The idea for the multi-DJ party came about when she linked up with with QR8ER (say it “curator”), a Philly-based international music label, through a mutual friend. Giving back is intrinsic to QR8ER’s vibe, label executive Mory Katan told Billy Penn — so it was easy to line up DJs for the party.

“I think as people it is very important that we take a moment to actually give back to our community,” said Katan, 26. “Every single one of the 10 artists that we reached out to was more than excited to do something for our community.”

Things kick off with a set at 2 p.m. and the vibes continue until sunset around 7:30 p.m. Festivalgoers are obviously invited to let loose and party, but organizers emphasize Hands Up wants to make an impact — and that Pheed Philly’s mission goes beyond donating physical resources.

“We’re hoping to not only provide basic necessities to the homeless population,” Magazzo said, “[but] also make them feel seen, make them feel valued and give them that all-important human connection.”

Silk graffiti artist Aubrie Costello will donate her hand-sewn silken banners to be sold at a silent auction during the festival. West Chester’s Amberella, best known for her wheatpaste “power hearts” and “goth hearts,” will also auction her viral artwork. All proceeds raised at the DJ festival go to Pheed Philly.

The organization’s founders stress Pheed Philly goes beyond giving physical resources.

“We want to show up for those less fortunate so that they feel seen and know that they are loved and valued,” the website reads. “Human connection is something many of us take for granted, but it’s something thousands of individuals go without every day.”

Festival entry is free with a suggested $15 donation. All proceeds raised will go directly to Pheed Philly. Get a preview of the fun with the custom playlist below.

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