Rainbows Festival 2014
By Laura Latzko, Oct. 9, 2014.
Just as the bold and vibrant hues of the rainbow converge into a spectrum of beauty, so do members of the LGBT and allied community — from throughout Arizona and beyond — each fall at Rainbows Festival.
Each year, as the summer sizzle subsides, Phoenix Pride showcases “Arizona’s Greatest Street Fair.” And, again for 2014, Rainbows Festival will take place on the third weekend in October at Heritage Square in Phoenix.
The two-day festival brings together organizations, businesses, attendees of all ages, and a wide variety of entertainers.
“It’s the first event after we cool down a bit for people to go out and have fun,” said Justin Owen, Phoenix Pride executive director. “It’s definitely got that fun outdoor feel.”
According to Owen, an important part of the festival’s purpose is to promote tolerance, awareness and acceptance within and outside the LGBT community.
“At the end of the day, it is an opportunity for our community to get together and to be who they are, and an opportunity for our allies to show their support,” Owen said. “The allied community wants to come out and celebrate with us … it can help us to move closer to eventual full equality.”
Phoenix Pride continues to work to get more people and organizations involved, according to Owen, and this year’s entertainment speaks to the community’s desire to be a part of Rainbows. He added that careful consideration was made to ensure the entertainment is as diverse as those in attendance.
SETTING THE STAGE
Eryn Woods and Vassy will headline the main stage on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, and attendees will see youth and adult drag performers, DJs and local musical artists on the main and community stages.
The lineup for the main stage, hosted Afeelya Bunz Saturday and Barbra Seville Sunday, features local and national acts, including current and former Phoenix Pride royalty, DJ Aris and DJ Tsunami, hip-hop artists Miny and Luna Aura, Tucson indie rock band The Borderline Sound and Barbra Seville’s group The Phoenix Phollies.
Taking the main stage at 10 a.m. Sunday is DJ Éclair, aka Samantha Munoz, the resident Saturday night DJ at Sevens Lounge in Glendale.
Munoz, who has spun also at Sky Lounge and Forbidden, hopes that Rainbows Festival will open up more opportunities for her to work within LGBT community moving forward.
“I want people to know who I am and what I am about,” she said. “I’m grateful and blessed to play in a community I’m comfortable with, and I look forward to playing in more areas and events in the community.”
Munoz recently, won two of three local DJ battles she participated in.
“It’s an art to me, being able to manipulate the songs with your hands,” she said. “You are the entertainer. You are not just a push/play DJ, you are adding some form to it.”
Although she grew up listening to high-energy electronic dance music and hip-hop, festivalgoers can expect a wide variety of music, especially remixes, to in her Sunday morning set.
The community stage will showcase various local acts, including a drag show with hosted by Aimee V. Justice, electronic dance music artist Astony, Miss DJ MJ and the Miss and Mister Junior Phoenix Pride finals.
One n ten’s Stacey Jay Cavaliere, drag queen Aimee V. Justice and Tuesday Mahrle of Aunt Rita’s Foundation will be among those hosting the community stage.
Voices of the Desert, taking the community stage Saturday at noon, plans to bring numbers that demonstrate its show choir style and serve up a sample of its Nov. 23 concert.
The mixed LGBT and straight choir, will performs songs, including K.C. and the Sunshine Band’s “Boogie Shoes,” and “You Can’t Stop the Beat,” from the musical Hairspray.
Voices of the Desert will also have a booth at the festival, which, according to Keith Clark, the choir’s artistic director, usually attracts four to five new members each year.
Clark hopes to raise awareness of the 40-member choir — built around the idea of “bridging the gap between the gay and straight community” — within the local and LGBT communities at this year’s festival.
“It’s challenging because straight choirs don’t embrace and support our cause; the gay community really does,” he said. “Having this ‘in-the-middle-thing’ is a little tricky, but it’s really important … to bring the two together.
A COMMUNITY AFFAIR
Attendees can expect about 150 vendors, including Phoenix Pride, Echo Magazine as well as a variety of food and beverage options, set up in Heritage Square for the festival.
Owen attributes the increase in businesses and organizations wanting to be involved in LGBT events to Senate Bill 1062, the “Religious Freedom” bill vetoed by Governor Brewer in February.
“SB 1062 got the business community to rally behind the LGBT community,” he said, “we’ve seen that transferred to Rainbows.”
The festival’s street fair atmosphere allows vendors to connect with community members. And, as a volunteer for Out2EnrollAZ who is coordinating 600 agencies in Arizona, that is Robert Hess III’s primary objective.
Hess, along with federal government officials from San Francisco and local volunteers representing Out2EnrollAZ, will be on hand to provide information about the Affordable Care Act, a law that affects the healthcare choices and protections of different populations throughout the country.
According to Hess, the LGBT community is less likely to have insurance through their jobs and be at higher risk for diseases such as HIV and AIDS, making them an important population to educate about healthcare options.
“The White House wants to engage the LGBT community. This is a huge validation to us because the White House is reaching out and wants to include us,” Hess said.
Because open enrollment begins Nov. 15, Hess said the festival is the perfect time for community member to come by the booth and ask any questions they have about the Affordable Care Act. e
10 a.m.-6 p.m. Oct. 18-19
Heritage Square Park
115 N. Sixth St., Phoenix
Vassy Brings International Flavor To The Rainbows Festival Stage
While the name Vassy may not ring a bell right away, her music is everywhere.
From Grey’s Anatomy and Ugly Betty to the trailer for the Disney’s Frozen and the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s dance chart, this Australian singer is making her mark.
And, as part of her Arizona debut she is bringing her high-energy style to the Rainbows Festival main stage, Sunday at 2 p.m.
As an international artist who pairs indie, rock, pop and neo-jazz with up-tempo beats, Vassy is known for getting her audiences moving.
The eclectic, high-energy singer-songwriter regularly performs at venues around the world, including Pride events. And, she said, she’s had a following in the LGBT community from the beginning of her career.
“I’ve got a great fan base … It’s been awesome being embraced by the community,” Vassy said. “I find there’s something a bit more special about them. There’s a very celebratory vibe and energy that you definitely feel.”
Vassy said she plans to engage the Rainbows Festival crowd as she does with every performance.
“It’s just naturally what I do, I feel like I need that connection with people,” Vassy said. “I’m like that with my friends [and] when I’m up on stage, it’s just another level of it.”
Born Vasiliki Karagiorgos, the daughter of Greek immigrants, Vassy grew up in Darwin, Australia. Throughout her life, she said, she felt a driving need to write and sing music.
“The music chose me. It’s one of those things. It’s like you have no choice but to do it,” she said.
Vassy moved to the United States to pursue her music career in 2008. In 2012 she released Beautiful Day, an energetic collection of songs that showcase her unmistakable voice.
“I think it is my voice that really stands out, kind of as its own instrument,” she said, “I’ve just found my own sound. It’s just an authentic process. It just evolved.”
Her most recent achievement was breaking into the top 10 on international charts earlier this year with “Bad,” a rebellious collaboration between David Guetta and Showtek on which she lends her unmistakable voice. e
— Laura Latzko