Herstory 10: Ivy Queen Teaches Us Dancefloor Consent
Herstory is a weekly take on gender & music history (made or in the making).
Gender bias in music journalism changes the stories that end up in our history books - we're highlighting the moments in music that don't get the recognition they deserve.
Reggaeton is a relatively young genre with roots in diaspora communities. Similar to hip hop, reggaeton has experienced institutional discrimination as an underground music scene that is closely associated with blackness. Now that reggaeton has become a global force, mainstream listeners may not recognize the nuance and complicated history that comes with the sounds of reggaeton.
If you’re not familiar with reggaeton, AJ+ breaks it down in the video below.
Ivy Queen was at the Heart of Music History
Ivy Queen is a source of inspiration for many in the reggaeton scene, include Jenny La Sexy Voz who we featured in HERSTORY 9. While Jenny made her mark by singing some of the genre's most iconic hooks, Ivy Queen found success as a solo artist. Ivy Queen was one of reggaeton's pioneering artists, coming out of the music collective, The Noise. Her feminist lyrics provided a refreshing narrative for many in the music community.
To say that reggaeton is misogynistic and oppressive is an oversimplification. Reggaeton lyrics and visuals are certainly designed for the male gaze, but what genre of modern music isn’t? Not only that, but artists like Ivy Queen have held the mic from reggaeton’s inception. She offered a feminine perspective during the genre’s most formative years. In an interview with Remezcla, she recalls “reggaeton was talking about women and asses, I was talking about empowerment.”
The timing of Ivy Queen’s messaging is important - she belonged to a music collective, The Noise, that was literally setting the tone of the genre. Her influence was still felt when she branched off as a solo act.
Dancefloor Consent: Quiero Bailar
Her 2003 song “quiero bailar” is an example of this. The message of “quiero bailar” is pretty straight forward: just because I’m dancing a certain way, doesn’t mean I’m yours to take. It’s about dancefloor consent. Redbull Music revisted her iconic track in the short-doc below - you can hear the impact that Ivy Queen’s lyrics had on generations of music lovers. It wasn’t all rosy, Ivy Queen faced push-back for her messaging but that’s exactly what made her an icon.
Remember Reggaeton’s Roots
Commercial success is not a bad thing, but it presents a new set of challenges. Reggaeton is music that was born out of struggle - as more mainstream artists incorporate the sound into their own work, we run the risk of erasing its creators.
Ivy Queen influenced a genre and a generation. She communicated concepts of consent and personal-agency in a new way. Considering the criticism and double standards she faced, her efforts may have felt like a labour of love for a long time. But now, we see a whole generation of womxn in reggaeton that are taking up space in the music scene. Many of these womxn will list Ivy Queen as a major inspiration. Without Ivy Queen, we wouldn’t have artists like DJ Riobamba in the video below.
Thanks for reading! This blog series is brought to you by Solidarity in Sound, an educational platform for unlearning music misogyny.
For our Herstory Lessons blog series - we're retelling the stories of womxn in music that have been misheard, mislabeled, or erased completely from our history books.
If information looks incorrect, please let us know! When we're retelling stories that are left out of our history books, finding info can get tricky. We want to make sure we're portraying these stories as accurately as possible!