The common misconception is the BeyHive are collectively insane. The media would have you believe our support is disproportionate considering the object of our affection is a performer. On Saturday April 14th 2018 at approximately 11:18pm PDT Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter delivered unto us evidence further justifying the depths of our fandom. The first black woman and only the third woman in the festival’s 19-year-history, Beyoncé took to Coachella’s main stage for a two hour tour de force banging out hit after hit after hit. I don’t know about you, but she’s left my scalp tender having snatched my edges clean from their roots.
Beyoncé was supposed to perform at Coachella last year, but the birth of her twins, Rumi and Sir Carter, scuppered those plans. Not one to disappoint, the opening strike of the marching band leader’s drum announced King Bey was going to make up for her 2017 absence and simultaneously pay homage to Historically Black University Halftime Shows.
You see, Britain doesn’t have historically black universities the way America does so my only access to the world of marching bands and step teams were the films ‘School Daze’, ‘Drumline’ and ‘Stomp The Yard’, all films where men were the protagonists and women merely existed to progress the men’s narratives. More recently the 2017 documentary ‘Step’, shone a light on the lives of the black girls in the world of step in Baltimore. Beyoncé creating a space and centring black women and the unambiguous blackness of step culture at what has traditionally been an almost exclusively very white, very male festival is a bold political statement.
Bold political statements aren’t new or simply gimmicks to Beyoncé, her core band is made up of all woman and has been for nearly a decade now because when you’re truly committed to equality representation you just make lasting changes. It was staggering to witness the staggering numbers of dancers and musicians: whole string, horn and drum sections, employed by Beyoncé and her company Parkwood Entertainment to pull of this feat. A job creator if I ever saw one.
What was new and warmed my soul to no end was the inclusion of bigger women in the dance troupe. Fat women’s role in Beyoncé performances of the past saw them as singers but at Beychella, they were dancers both in the wider group, seamlessly side-by-side dancers whose bodies society deems fit for such roles, and centred in a triptych during the much-loved Baby Boy/Dutty Wine breakdown. So, while your fave was tweeting about going to the gym and being paid to declare “it’s not fine to be fat” Beyoncé’s letting you hoes know that fat people are valuable, beautiful and deserve to snatch wigs right alongside her. Okkkkrrrr?
Beyoncé is unafraid to share the stage with and pay homage to musical greats that went before her and those who helped her get to where she is today. Flawless transitions held our hands and led us in the Black National Anthem, then through a Swag Surf then onto a Nina Simone moment where dancers fused pop and lock and contemporary dance to bring even more weight to her timeless words, then those same hands held us up high as the horns sections blasted Nigerian titan Fela Kuti before throwing us at the feet of Déjà vu.
A collective sigh sounded out across the Twittersphere as Beyoncé’s husband took the stage, but almost as if she heard us before I pressed send on my tweet, he was gone. While Beyoncé has clearly forgiven the father of her three beautiful children, it will take some time for us all to be on the same page with regards to her long-time collaborator and life partner. As one tweet succinctly put it; “Boooo but yaaasssss”. And then it was time for the eight-year-old me to have her whole life handed to her - Beyoncé, Michelle and Kelly delivering harmonies like no other girl group would dare.
As the concert closed out, I cried. I didn’t want the moment to end. Black people across the diaspora, in different time zones had united to live tweet the occasion. The world had been granted a reprieve from the grotesque times we live in to dance, be entertained and think. Beyoncé’s performance will surely open up dialogue about historically black colleges and universities, and the tragedy of the necessity of their existence. So violently exclusionary was white supremacy’s denial of the basic human right to education for black people, African Americans were forced to create their own. They made Lemonade from this bad hand they were served, Lemonade which Beyoncé had us sipping from. Beyoncé transcends the performative, both on stage and in action- her Formation Scholarship awards scholarships to women going off to university. Your fave will never.
White fragility will rear its head in the weeks of analysis we have to look forward to. Threatened by the unabashed black excellence on display at Beychella they will call on their coded language and describe her as “obnoxious”, “obscene”, “lacking humility” and every other word to call her a n****r by any another name. They’ll do this because blackness in all its forms; sitting waiting for a friend at Starbucks, missing a school bus, and on the world’s biggest stage is abhorrent to them. The articles on my blog are mostly reactionary but in big 2018 I no longer have time for that. Fuck you in advance for any racist diatribe riddled with thinly veiled misogynoir you’re fixing your fingers to write. At the core, criticism of Beyoncé is rarely based on her art thus its function is to detract focus from who we came here for and redirect it to those whose goal is to centre whiteness, misogynoir and/or the patriarchy. Beloved, Toni Morrison long warned us the “very real function of racism is distraction.” Beyoncé’s excellence incites ugliness in you every time and you lot need to look into that for yourselves - we are tired of talking to you.
I don’t even want Coachella to change their name to Beychella, they don’t deserve it. Standing still while the Queen gave the performance of a lifetime. Tuh! I am happy I got to witness and will spend the rest of the day searching for my edges and getting excited for black women musicians of all hues walking through the doors Beyoncé broke down at Coachella tonight. Cos remember she was the first, aint that ’bout a bitch?
This blog first appeared on DanielleDash.com.