Sueños — Chicago’s New Latin Music Dreamland
Se acabó la cuarentena. Tens of thousands of Latin music lovers made history this Memorial Day weekend at Chicago’s first ever Latin music festival!
Sueños brought over fifty thousand people to Grant Park over two days of puro perreo intenso. Wisin y Yandel, J Balvin, Ozuna, El Alfa, and Sech were just a few of the heavy hitters featured over the weekend. Fans from across the Latin American and the Caribbean diaspora came together at Sueños, with the twenty-one acts representing Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Panama, Mexico, and Guatemala, a beautiful showing of diasporic community making through music and art. And for what many may consider to be the first “normal” summer since 2019, Sueños kicked it off with bellaquera y desacato.
Dominican dembow darling Tokischa took the stage Saturday afternoon con un flow estilazo. Opening with Desacato Escolar, she took us to school to prove why she is currently one of the biggest performing acts from the Dominican Republic. Dressed in white cargo pants, a blue-black velvet top, and her signature cornrows, Tokischa unzipped the rear of her pants to twerk for her admirers. A true show-woman, Tokischa combines aesthetics of camp, trap, and her Caribbean heritage in her sound. Leche, leche she crooned before kneeling and bending over to drink milk from a dog bowl. A middle-finger to respectable femininity, Tokischa constantly pushes against social norms and asserts herself as a queer, perra Dominican icon. Larga vida homosexual.
Later Saturday evening, El Alfa continued to put DR on the map by bringing his bombastic dembow sound to the stage. One of the most electric sets of the weekend, El Alfa brought life, color, vibrancy, and joy to the midwest, playing some of his biggest hits such as Suave and Go Go Dance. In summary, we have two words: fuego, fuego.
Wisin y Yandel stole the show Sunday night with their career-spanning set, playing their greatest hits over their 23 years as the duo dinámico. With a Puerto Rican flag draping over his shoulders, Yandel proves why he’s the OG reggaetonero crooner, while Wisin demonstrates why he’s an immeasurable force on the mic. ALL of our old-school faves blasted through rows of speakers as thousands and thousands of attendees grinded the night away, from Ahora Es, to Pegao, and even their 2005 collaboration with Aventura, Noche De Sexo. At the end of the set, Wisin fell to his knees with tears in his eyes, the culmination of decades of making reggaeton history. Simply put, Wisin y Yandel are legends amongst legends, and their showing at Sueños was truly no exception.
We cannot go without mentioning Jowell from the Puerto Rican duo Jowell y Randy, who rocked the stage as a last minute one-man show Saturday evening. Due to travel issues, Jowell appeared solo, playing both old school and recent reggaeton anthems, including a Casa de Leones classic. Jowell radiated buenas vibras and single-handedly shifted the energy in the park, leaving fans talking about the incredible set well into Sunday night. Flying solo, Jowell truly gave attendees a performance to remember.
Dominican Republic’s La Gabi and Puerto Rico’s Cauty are our two honorable mentions from the weekend. La Gabi brought a medley of flavors and a true authentic performance early Sunday afternoon, moving between rap, bachata, trap, reggaeton, and dembow. Jumping off the stage and into the crowd, La Gabi reached out to her fans, popping, locking, and twerking across the floor. She truly glides in a seemingly effortless way, music and dance oozing from her pores. Moments later, Cauty kept the energy flowing, serving real girl-power with an all-woman ensemble of dancers, dj, and back-up singer. His set reached a climax with his performance of Ta To Gucci and had everyone on their feet, moving their hips and singing along. If you weren’t familiar with La Gabi and Cauty before, you definitely left Sueños a new fan.
And lastly, a very special shoutout to DJ Fredy Fresco who kept the party moving in between sets throughout Saturday and Sunday. His energy was insurmountable and transitioned between both old and new seamlessly. He looked out for the attendees’ well-being throughout the blazing hot weekend, urging festival staff to hand out water, while also encouraging fans to look out for each other. Beyond his obvious talent on the turntables, DJ Fredy Fresco brought community and compassion through music to Sueños.
And that’s a wrap! Sueños was a dream come true for Latin music fans, especially fans of reggaeton. After making history Memorial Day weekend, there’s no doubt we’ll be seeing Sueños back next year, bigger and better, and we’ll have the juice!