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Black At Coachella: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

By DeAnna Taylor

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This weekend marked the start of the 20th anniversary of Coachella. The popular music festival is held for two weekends out in the desert of Indio, California.

The music and arts fest has had a long history of catering to more of a white crowd. The inaugural festival, in 1999, brought Rage Against The Machine and Beck as its headliners.

Through the years, there have been Black artists on the ticket, but rarely as headliners. In 2008, Prince was the first Black headliner of the festival and Jay Z followed in 2010.

Fast forward to 2018, when the face of Coachella as we know it was changed forever. Beyoncé Knowles-Carter became the first Black woman to headline the event. Queen Bey gave a performance of such epic magnitude, that many renamed it “Beychella.”

For the first time in a long time, the number of Black people seeking tickets to the fest rose sharply. We had a chance to speak with a few people who had the privilege of attending “Beychella” and they gave us their take on the experience.

Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Coachella

Jamie Davis was able to attend her first Coachella in 2018. While she says it is a one and done, she said Beychella was an experience like no other.” It was really like a family reunion. Everyone just vibed,” Jamie said. “Everyone was ready for the Queen.”

“It was amazing to hear her sing the Negro National Anthem in the beginning of her set. I had so much pride. For the first time, others were exposed to it and they were in awe.”

Ranese Carroll traveled from the East Coast to attend the event. “For me, Coachella was a once in a lifetime experience. For that one weekend, it was such an escape from reality. To be surrounded by people from all walks of life gathered in the desert for the love of music was nothing short of amazing.”

Related: Best Summer Festivals In California

The men were attendance too and enjoyed the events just as much as the women. Ray had always heard about Coachella but always felt that it was a white music festival and never had any headliners that he was interested in. However, when he saw that one of his favorite artists, Beyoncé, was headlining he decided to go for it.

“My partner and I purchased the tickets which came in this colorful box with wristbands, maps of the festival, brochures, and even a puzzle,” he told Travel Noire.

“The festival is planned out in every detail and the staff was very helpful. Being an almost 40-year old Black man, I didn’t feel out of place with the roaming teens and 20 somethings. It was very refreshing to see Black people of all ages representing at the festival.”

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DeAnna Taylor

DeAnna Taylor is a criminal defense Attorney turned travel blogger, author, and writer. While Charlotte, NC (her hometown) is her base, she's always somewhere on a plane. Catch her on IG: @brokeandabroadlife.

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