Latin America’s Queer Stars Take Centre Stage On Lollapalooza’s South America Circuit22 March, 2023
LGBTQ+ stars use platform to promote tolerance and unity at the festival’s eleventh edition in Chile
Shielding his face from the relentless sunlight of Santiago’s afternoon sun, Álex Anwandter dedicated his most recent single, ‘Maricoteca’, to “diversidades, como yo”; an ode to LGBTQ+ nightlife that erupted applause from his largely queer audience. Anwandter’s Sunday slot at Lollapalooza Chile was one of the last of a three-day event where Anwandter and queer peers from across Latin America stood out with electrifying sets that deliciously combined ingredients of polish, politics and raunchiness.
Anwandter’s set revealed new material that he introduced as “medio fleta”, “a bit gay”, hinting that his forrthcoming album will see the Chilean singer draw on themes of identity and community, combining disco strings and ballroom beats to hone his danceable style of political pop. Before playing his 2016 song, ‘Cordillera’, which addresses the crimes of the Pinochet dictatorship, Anwandter commemorated fifty years since the late dictator staged a bloody coup and impressed rigidly conservative, Catholic values in Chile during his 17-year rule. “Chile still needs songs that push for change” said Álex. “We’re still trapped in the structures of fifty years ago. This song is about continuing the fight.”
Anwandter was among a host of LGBTQ+ stars from Latin America that spoke openly about their sexuality and gender to make a point on tolerance, unity and togetherness in a region where homophobia and transphobia continues to be paramount. On Saturday, opening the main Banco de Chile stage, Puerto Rican rapper Villano Antillano united a crowd of fiercely loyal fans waving the trans and rainbow flags during her early afternoon set; who applauded rapturously when the trans star asked to hear her “maricones” and “mariconas” in the crowd.
Throughout the show, la Villana walked down from the stage to greet her fans, flirting with them, and kissing them, all the while delivering her verses with an unstoppable flow without missing a beat through her spicy reggaeton hits that included ‘Tusi’ ‘Hedonismo’ and ‘¡Hello Kitty!’. She brought fellow Puerto Rican star iLe, of Calle 13 fame, to the stage to sing their collaboration ‘Mujer’, an ode to women empowerment. ‘Yo soy una mujer, llena de poder’ they spat, closing the song back-to-back, with their arms crossed defiantly. Villana took a moment to shout out to “empowered women” and “lesbian women”; “que vivan las mujeres!”
At the end of her set, she made a point about celebrating trans-inclusive feminism: “as much as we have differences, we have a lot more in common.” She closed with an explosive rendition of her Bizarrap session ‘Vol. 51’, which is considered her breakout hit, accompanied by a super fan who she brought to the stage, together rapping word-by-word before sharing a kiss at the request from the crowd.
Continuing the Caribeña flow was queer Dominican star Tokischa, who is openly bisexual, and her catalog of songs celebrate sex in all forms. She opened her Friday evening set clad in a suit, with dancers who lifted her up, pinned her to a desk, and insinuated sexual acts. Her distinctive, high-energy rap was unflinching throughout, combining fierce dancing with crowd banter for a tantalizingly raunchy hour of hits. Her second song, Rosalía-featuring ‘Linda’, had the whole crowd dancing, who chanted the famed lyrics ‘las amigas que se besan son la mejor compañía’ (‘girl friends that kiss are the best company’) like a mantra. By the end of the set, Tokischa’s suit was largely discarded, much to the audience’s enjoyment.
It wasn’t all urbano revelry; Argentina’s Marilina Bertoldi was repping queer indie-rock. Shredding heavy with her band of female guitarists, Bertoldi’s set packed in hits from her career, including new pop-tinged single ‘La La’, 70s-rock-style ‘La Cena’, and her indie-synth collab with Chilean star, and queer peer, Javiera Mena, ‘Amuleto’. Bertoldi, who has spoken openly about the need to build more queer spaces, took a moment to celebrate being in Chile for the first time and closed the song shouting “Southern Cone, Lesbian power!”.
Chile’s biggest festival proves that representation matters to audiences and artists alike, with each queer star using their platform to celebrate their identity and their community. Here’s to even more representation for next year’s edition.
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