Phoenix Pride introduces Latin Stage and other new features to festival

By Laura Latzko, April 2019 Issue.

RuPaul’s Drag Race fave Ms. Vanjie.
Photo courtesy of Phoenix Pride.

The Phoenix Pride Festival is built on tradition, but it continues to grow and evolve to fit the needs of the community.

This year, the newest addition to the festival will be a Latin Stage, produced by Club Papi Productions that will feature local and national DJs, artists, go-go dancers and drag performers, as well as the Como La Flor Selena tribute band.

The new stage will have performances from Miss Vanjie from RuPaul’s Drag Race, Amara La Negra from Love & Hip Hop Miami, dance music artist Robin S, Filipino singer Dulce, Puerto Rican hip hop/urban/bachata/merengue artist Ambar, New-York-based pop artist and fashionista MARI, and Afro-Latin American soul and R&B singer Marger.

Many of the headliners will also perform on other stages during the weekend.

In recent years, Phoenix Pride has worked to bring in international Latin artists as headliners for the festival. The stage expands on this tradition.

Phoenix Pride Executive Director Mike Fornelli said the new stage is modeled after Latin stages at San Diego, Miami, and Los Angeles pride celebrations and is designed for people with different tastes.

“The Latin stages tend to be more diverse, as far as entertainment, where it’s a combination of DJs, local talent, international Latin talent, go-go dancers. It’s a mix of everything,” Fornelli said.

Venezuelan singer, songwriter, and actress Marger. Photo courtesy of Phoenix Pride.

He added that in recent years, Phoenix Pride has tried to bring in a greater diversity of and bigger name entertainers.

“Our demographic spans from five years old to 100 years old. We like to try to have entertainers that are going to appeal to every single aspect of our demographic,” Fornelli said.

Phoenix Pride is ramping up to its 40th anniversary next year.

The 2019 festival will be themed around “Celebrating our Progress: Past, Present, and Future.” Fornelli said this year Phoenix Pride is honoring individuals, especially transgender activists, who have shaped LGBT history.

Como La Flor channels Selena.
Photo courtesy of Phoenix Pride.

This year, Monica Helms will serve as the Community Grand Marshal of the Phoenix Pride Parade during the 20th anniversary of the transgender pride flag, which she created.

Echo Magazine will receive the honor of Organization Grand Marshal during its 30th anniversary.

This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, a pivotal moment in the Gay Rights movement. During the riots, members of the LGBT community in Greenwich Village rose up to protest police harassment and violence.

This year is the 40th anniversary of the creation of the Radical Faeries, a network focused on the spiritual health of LGBT people and on the adoption of more environmentally-friendly practices.

Taylor Dayne will headline on Sunday on the mainstage close to the 30th anniversary year of her hit song “Tell It to My Heart.”

The mainstage will also feature R&B, soul and pop singer JoJo, known for “Leave (Get Out);” German transgender singer/songwriter Kim Patras of “I Don’t Want It All” fame; Ohio-based drag queen and RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant Nina West; drag queen and American Idol contestant Ada Vox and Dumblonde, a pop duo made up of Danity Kane members Aubrey O’Day and Shannon Bex.

This year, the Phoenix Pride Festival will have an expanded footprint. The Latin Stage will be in a section of Steele Indian School Park previously used in other capacities.

The festival will have a slightly different look, but it will still cater to people of different ages, backgrounds and tastes.

Urban artist Ambar. Photo courtesy of Phoenix Pride.

The festival will retain popular areas such as Erotic World, the Dance Pavilion, the Arts Expo area and KidSpace.

The area for kids is moving closer to lakeside area to provide more room for activities, and the exhibitor space near Arts Expo is expanding to provide more room for exhibitors.

The Dance Pavilion area will have different art vehicles from Walter Productions, including Kalliope, a three-story vehicle designed with light and flame effects; Big Red, a large-scale version of the Volkswagen Beetle; and Billy the Bull, a giant disco ball in the shape of a steer.

This year in the Arts Expo area, festival goers can take part in the Phoenix Pride Unity Mural. To participate, they just need to dip their hands in rainbow colored paint and add their handprints to large letters spelling out “Unity.”

This year, the Community Stage will be expanded to accommodate larger crowds. Fornelli said in recent years the community stage has been one of the busiest sections.

The size of the VIP area will also increase with the addition of VIP cabanas and a craft brew area.

Located near the community stage, the new health and wellness area will offer lakeside yoga classes, STD testing and vendors with health-related products and services.

The number of exhibitors, especially health-related ones, has increased this year. Fornelli said a greater variety of businesses, including dispensaries, are interested in participating in the festival.

Festival goers should also expect to see a large presence of political organizations encouraging community members to vote in upcoming election and take part in the Census.

Dance music artist Robin S. Photo by LMC.

Getting into the park and purchasing drinks this year will be easier. The entrance lanes for the festival have been expanded, and this year festival goers can link their wristbands to their credit or debit cards. This will allow attendees to be able to purchase drinks throughout the day and close their tabs easily.

In different areas of the festival, the bars have expanded. They will continue to have a variety of drink options, including new glitter-infused cocktails.

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