Arciniega Street’s ‘VIBRAS’ Shines an Intentional Spotlight on Queer Latine Art and Community by rio alberto
Burlesque artist Chola Magnolia. Photo: Chris Avessuk.
In Alaska, we have a bustling and steadily-growing performing arts scene with many offshoots into more niche categories. With more mainstream attention on the art of drag in recent years, as well as more opportunities to access the art form in Anchorage, the local drag scene has experienced somewhat of a renaissance that has sprouted a new generation of dynamic performers and has consequently made more space for our queer community. Drag brings an undeniably important element of queer counterculture to the arts scene, and two of its quasi-sister artforms - dance and burlesque - are also critical contributors that are steadily growing in popularity. Accessible queer art is a key component to a healthy, connected, and thriving queer community.
That said, when shows pop up around Anchorage that specifically cater to a variety of identities, we would be right to pay attention. These shows are occurring more frequently, and they not only meet an important need, but they shine a spotlight on how diverse Anchorage really is. When it comes to community arts and entertainment, Queer-Latina-owned production company, Arciniega Street Productions, has been a key player in pushing intersectionality into the spotlight here at home.
By now Arciniega Street is known for prioritizing Latine, BIPOC, and LGBTQ+ artists in their productions, thoughtfully countering a longstanding entertainment industry tendency to sideline, underbook, underpay and/or tokenize marginalized artists. This niche is not only addressing a longstanding issue, but it has a powerful impact on those underserved communities Arciniega Street specifically caters to, and this only means good things for Anchorage.
The first weekend of October, Arciniega Street completed its final quarter of the first season of their highly curated drag, diva, and burlesque show, ‘VIBES’. This quarter’s theme was simply ‘Latinidad’ - so this 2-night show was aptly titled ‘VIBRAS,’ featuring exclusively Latin music and a star-studded cast of all-LGBTQ+ and all-Latine drag and burlesque artists: Ivanna Kischacok, Isabella Novela, Athena Nuff, Sweet Rika, Dela Rosa, and special guest performers from out-of-state, Jellika Boom of Miami, Glenn Coco of Seattle, and headliner Chola Magnolia of Portland.
The artists come from a diverse range of backgrounds: different shades and origins of Latinidad including artists of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Dominican, Colombian, and Peruvian descent, plus a variety of different relationships to culture, language, and place. In addition to witnessing strong performances that clearly celebrate identity, it was powerful seeing so many Latinos in the audience both nights. VIBRAS was a surprisingly moving experience for so many of us who exist within that unique overlap of identities, performers, and audience members alike.
“VIBRAS was one of the most beautiful and affirming experiences I’ve ever had as a Latina queer femme,” said headlining burlesque performer Chola Magnolia, who Arciniega Street flew up for the show. Chola is an award-winning traveling artist who holds many reigning titles across the country and was also named one of the Top 50 burlesque performers in the world. “I felt so welcome in this space, and I felt seen. What’s happening with this production is so special and important, and I’m honored to have been a part of it.”
The way this production masterfully united both artistic and cultural expression was a truly profound thing to witness. This was not just a perennial drag and burlesque show; it felt like a love letter to the intersectionality of queerness and Latinidad, especially in an Arctic community where many Latinos struggle with cultural displacement, erasure, and isolation. ‘VIBRAS’ spanned queer and Latine pride, nostalgia, sensuality, joy, and resilience.
As a production, VIBRAS was intimate and electric; the energy was palpable, and the underground vibe felt very new. Beyond the engaging atmosphere and incredible talent showcase, this show provided a dedicated space for us to be in community with fellow queer and Latine people, to reconnect with culture through the arts, and to engage in really important healing through celebrating every part of who we are.
Arciniega Street Productions is owned and operated by Kendra and Mercedes Arciniega. Learn more about their community programs at ArciniegaStreet.com or @ArciniegaStreet on all social media platforms.
PROUDLY POWERED BY SOL DE MEDIANOCHE NEWS, LLC. Sol de Medianoche is a monthly publication of the Latino community in Anchorage, Alaska