El Patio Wynwood welcomed reggaeton royalty last night with a hotly anticipated set by genre pioneer and fashion chameleon Ivy Queen.
For large swaths of America, the pulsing, driving beat of reggaeton is a new phenomenon, proliferated to the masses through unworthy messenger Justin Bieber and the latest hits of a growing roster of Latino artists like Shakira and Pitbull, whose music runs the gamut of Latin genres and now includes the occasional reggaeton banger. In Miami, however, the unmistakable Puerto Rican sound has spilled out of backyard family pachangas for going on two decades, due in no small part to the songs of one of its innovators, Ivy Queen.
Tickets to the intimate club gig billed the event's start time as 10 p.m., but there were still plenty of fans arriving with tickets in hand around midnight as others danced to mixes of Maluma's "Felices los 4," Shakira's "Chantaje," and every Nicky Jam song known to man.
Miami's King Batey played a short but energetic set of original reggaeton songs and a medley of covers of some of today's most popular hits within the genre, some of which DJ Smiley Miami played again for a lit crowd that didn't seem to mind repeats.
At 2 a.m., the Queen herself walked onstage as the crowd shoved and bumped into bodyguards to try to get closer to the living reggaeton legend. Wearing a blinding blue rhinestone shirt, golden fanny pack around her thigh, a wig of short black curls and her signature bedazzled claw nails, Ivy Queen wasted no time getting to the hits, opening with "Quiero Bailar," the groundbreaking consent anthem that introduced her to the masses back in 2004.
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Ivy Queen's music gets the party going in all circles, but her songs are made by and for women. Songs like "Te He Querido, Te He Llorado" and "La Vida Es Así" tell tale after tale of women scorned but empowered, and the power of their messages was clear as young women's voices drowned out Ivy's at El Patio's sold-out show.
The songs also made painfully clear how scarce female voices are within the genre today. Ivy Queen's reign as reggaeton's leading lady has not yet been challenged in any significant way. While that's a testament to the power of her messaging, it's also troubling that no other female voice has broken out as loudly in the reggaeton world in the two decades she has been making music.
As she said her goodbyes to the crowd during her last song, one young woman rushed past Ivy's bodyguards and jumped onstage for a long embrace with the singer. This set off a mad dash of fans rushing to the stage for selfies and Instagram live videos with the icon. As bodyguards approached, the Queen gestured for them to stand down, and she made time for videos and brief chats with fans while her backing track played on. She may call herself a queen, but as she made clear last night at El Patio, Ivy Queen belongs to the people.