After a long awaited ten months, the biggest latino party headed to the ballpark, Besame Mucho Festival took place on December 3rd, 2022 at Dodger Stadium in the Elysian Park Neighborhood of Los Angeles. The lineups consisted of multi-generational artists led by headliners Juanes, Elvis Crespo, Los Tigres Del Norte, and Alejandra Guzman.
The event’s doors opened at 11 a.m. local time, and Los Cadetes de Linares performed as the festival’s opening act twenty-five minutes later. Four stages arose from the Chavez Ravine concrete, “Rockero”, “Las Clásicas”, “Te Gusta El Pop?”, and the “Beso” stage all strategically spread across the stadium’s parking lot with crowds dancing from one stage to the next.
If lavender Fabuloso was the presenting sponsor for Coachella, this would be its ideal lineup. You had Banda Machos at the “Las Clasicas” stage, La Sonora Dinamita at the “Beso” stage, and Hombres G on the “Rockeros” stage all one after another mirroring my parents Saturday morning cleaning soundtrack. The nostalgia set in and I suddenly felt the strongest urge to ask my parents for permission to go out Friday and Saturday, then remembered I ultimately had to choose one or the other.
With so many legendary musicians came legendary outfits, ranging from tight (p)leather rocker vibes from generations past to traditional vaquero attire, equipped with tejanas and cowboy boots. What is eye-opening about festivals celebrating musical roots and representation is that everybody is dressed so differently and the stereotypical idea that a vaquero can’t like rock en español flew out of the ballpark Saturday night like a Dodger home run. The presence of L.A. streetwear brands like Paisa Boys and Born x Raised were strongly felt as many festival-goers rocked their Mexican-themed collections. That representation in itself emphasizes how significant the latino culture is in Los Angeles, whether you’re sporting a tejana or a Born x Raised Cinco de Mayo t-shirt or both simultaneously, you fit in here. All of it had an atmosphere of a big carne asada or Quinceañera where there was no dress expectation and guests showed up dressed anyway they pleased.
Thinking about how profound the idea for this festival was and how it has now become a reality left me in deep thought. The vast majority of attendees come from a generation that goes the extra mile every day to support their family and likely immigrated to this country and left all behind in pursuit of the American dream. Leaving it all behind, including their way of life, lifestyle, and, most importantly, their passions and interests. In a single evening, the Besame Mucho celebration honors numerous generations of Latinos. Even if it was only for one night, it was a nostalgic and memorable night for the hard working Latino population. With art displayed all over the festival grounds by Ricardo Soltero and creative direction led by Latino content company Need Pastel (who designed the artwork for Bad Bunny’s already iconic album “Un Verano Sin Ti”), it truly felt like you were transported to a small town in Mexico. From the small details of the Lucha Libre ring, to the catrinas placed along the festival’s walkway, to the very welcoming floral assortment that read Besame Mucho at the front entrance.
We hardly think about how hard our parents assimilated to this country. The Besame Mucho festival brought the whole population of latinos home and wherever that may be it was for them at that single moment in time.
During the legendary Ramon Ayala’s set, I looked around and saw people who truly looked like me and we sang his songs feeling the same heartbreak, crying the same tears. It was a safe space to be ourselves knowing once you step out of the ballpark into the newly gentrified Echo Park neighborhood you can no longer express your likings in the same way as you could at the top of that hill. That feeling is definitely a trago amargo that we have been carrying for generations.
Besame Mucho wasn’t about the artist performing, or the outfit you were wearing, it was about how you felt when you heard the notes play and how you felt dancing in your clothes and it probably took you back to your heyday, whenever it was or in my case Saturday mornings cleaning as my parents were bumping Los Angeles Azules. – Yaileen Ramos