In early November, Tropicalia Festival held in Long Beach, CA debuted to provide the West Coast with nothing less than an eclectic, taco-filled bang that brought out a new flavor into an otherwise stale festival scene. Thanks to the passion-driven merging of DIY creatives, management and promotional teams, alongside the event organizers over at the Observatory; Tropicalia shone as the cherry on top of a freshly impressive festival year sundae for the event organizers by providing a sold-out, genre-bending and multi-generational experience that still has Southern California reminiscing.
From a mind blowing music, food and vendor lineup; an individually tailored event fit for a carnivorous cumbia lover, pescatarian alternative rocker or vegan shoegaze enthusiast (and every combination in between) was carefully curated and impressively executed. A complete embrace of the vibrant, effervescent and ever present culture that has reigned supreme in Southern California; both the overarching umbrella and individualistic diversity of the Latinx [Millennial] identity was finally being celebrated.
From teens singing along to legendary corridos group Los Tigres del Norte to older adults sporting Cuco merch to everyone sporting their best moves normally reserved for their cousins quince to the sounds of cumbia icon Celso Pina; the sets became capsules where time seemed to go obsolete. A brief walk from stage to stage could transport you to foundation building sounds of the past curated by likes of Brenton Woods and The Delfonics or be met with futuristic experimentalism to the riffs of Thee Commons and Chicano Batman. Alina Baraz, Jhene Aiko and Jorja Smith could bring out your inner R&B chanteuse, while Surf Curse, The Buttertones and SadGirl reverted you into your rock n’ roll phase. Moments of parental nostalgia could be quickly cured with a visit to the sets of Os Mutantes, Jeanette or Sonora Dinamita; but were reverted back into our present playlists to the songs of Ivy Queen, Cafe Tacvba and Kali Uchis.
Much more than a music festival; it was a declaration that Latinx people, culture and musical palettes are never stagnant, always changing and forever ranging. The timing and socio-political climate for such a statement could not have provided more significance. Rules were broken, boxes stepped out of and all borders erased. Tropicalia manifested a space where diversity was celebrated alongside national identity. Country of origin or citizenship status were as irrelevant as the real number of free tacos consumed and music was a common language spoken between all. A head full of memories, ears full of music and stomach full of tacos will now be carrying Southern California through the undoubted anticipation for the party to (hopefully) continue on next year.