You couldn’t get through the Mexico City edition of Francisca Valenzuela’s Ruidosa Fest this weekend without someone bringing up the de rigueur question of the festival: why do you make noise?
Answers varied, but at the festival’s Friday night panel on the personal politics of Latin American cumbia, rap, and punk artists, Mexico City-based musician and DJ Ali Guaguis had a pretty succinct response: “If you’re a woman doing what you want, you’re already breaking the rules.”
If she’s right, then many rules were broken between Ruidosa’s three panels of artists and music industry pros — plus seven concerts and a stacked after party in a dance club above Calle Bucareli (which lit fans will recognize as the strip where the characters of Roberto Bolaño’s The Savage Detectives drink endless cafes and chelas). Ruidosa provided a venue for fans, artists, media, and promoters to share their experiences, identifying the inequalities that still exist and more importantly, the networks of support that women in creative industries can tap into.
That power sharing is an important part of festival founder Francisca Valenzuela’s plan. “Ruidosa wants to connect and activate,” the Chilean pop artist told Remezcla. Another goal was to connect representation in the music industry to other issues affecting women. Non-profit organizations set up tables outside the festival’s main auditorium, offering attendees information on how to escape domestic violence, discover new birth control options, and other services.
For all this, Ruidosa was not your typical feminist event. Many artists delivered sets devoid of explicit political content and male fans were everywhere, singing along to indie pianist Ximena Sariñana’s set from start to finish, and asking tough questions about their own place in the fight for gender equality. In turn, many panelists underlined the importance of giving men a place in the feminist struggle. Michigan Womyn’s Festival this was not – and that’s a good thing.
But not everyone was convinced that men needed the floor. “Historically, we’ve been denied the use of spaces, certain rights, certain ways of development, certain opportunities in our lives,” Oaxacan rapper Mare Advertencia Lirika told Remezcla during a quiet moment at Ruidosa. She sees the importance of spaces that focus on the struggle that is specific to female-identified folks. “Breaking with these established norms generates a new way of thinking, a new way of seeing ourselves as women in society,” she said.
Later, Mare would hold the floor at the after-party, inserting political calls to arms in between DJ sets by Riobamba, Ali Guaguis, Tayhana, and Mexico City’s Phaedra and Baby Bruise, whose late night B2B set ranged from concentrated hits of Beyoncé’s “Formation” to gabber and perreo.
“Music led to me making that click to make myself feel comfortable,” Argentine DJ Tayhana commented earlier in the weekend at Ruidosa’s Friday night panel, having just shared the story of how the beats she heard in the streets while growing up in a small town in Patagonia reinforced her own identity as a Latina artist. This edition of Ruidosa gave Mexico City fans the chance to listen to the musical dialogue of artists from across the diaspora — and an opportunity to think on how their own noise is echoing out into the world.