By Jenn Corday
Photos Lisa Bassi/THT
Long Beach, CA (The Hollywood Times) 7/12/22 – Long Beach Pride kicked off on Saturday July 9th for it’s inaugural summer slot. The new July date felt good, with sunny skies, and a decent breeze coming in from the Pacific Ocean, where the iconic Queen Mary sits looking on. I might be a tad biased since I’m a Long Beach native, but this pride festival is one of my favorites because of the lush Shoreline Park setting, right on the coast, and the diverse population it attracts.
I was actually there to perform myself on the Country Stage, which is always a shit-kickin’ good time. The tent was going off right from the get-go with a full dance floor of line-dancers doing their thing. If you are part of the country line dancing community, this is your sweet spot, and even if you’re a newbie, it’s a super fun place to learn. DJ Rick is your adorable host. As the DJ, line-dance teacher, and all-around head cowboy, Rick turns the country tent into a real-deal honky tonk! He has run the country stage at LB Pride for the past several years. Rick was the man at Oil Can Harry’s for the past 28 years until the pandemic. “We lost our home at Oil Can Harry’s because of Covid. We have now brought our family back together,” he was glowing.
I took the stage with my band and we had super fun hoedown, performing some of my favorite country tunes including All Jacked Up, On The Road Again, and Boot Scootin’ Boogie, as well as my original songs Starfish and Shoulda Left Sooner (don’t you all have an ex you shoulda left sooner?) The biggest crowd pleasers of the show however, were my song Redneck Lesbo and my rendition of Titties and Beer, with ASL interpreter Gingi spelling it all out. You had to be there…
The L.A Wranglers, a country-Western dance troupe came on next and put on a great show! I spoke with Lindsay Castillo who spoke for the group which consisted of 5 guys and 4 gals. “We’ve been serving the LGBTQ+ community for over 20 years.” They give lessons and host and perform events everywhere so check ’em out at https://www.thelawranglers.
We got to cruise more of the festival and caught Romance and Dance demonstrating some amazing stripper-dance moves! Romance and Dance has two locations– Carson and Rancho Cucamonga, where you can sign up for classes. They offer everything from Beginner Pole Aerobics to Striptease to Twerking! It’s a great workout and lots of fun. You can even rent the whole studio for a bachelorette party. Check ’em out at RomanceandDance.com
Next we saw the skaters at Pigeon’s Pop-Up Roller Rink. It’s 4 wheel old school skater heaven! Check out their pop-up location at PCH and 2nd in Long Beach. https://www.pigeonsrollerrink.
Monaco gave out bracelets to promote their cocktails and my girlfriend loved the Monaco Watermelon Crush- a mix of. Unlike the usual seltzers, these canned cocktails contain actual liquor like vodka and tequila, and offer some pretty fresh concoctions I am now wanting to try like Tropical Rush, Blue Crush, and the Classic Mai Tai- check em all out at https://www.drinkmonaco.
Liquored up, I literally ran into the amazing one-and-only Jewels, who is a Long Beach legend, and the main draw at Hamburger Mary’s on Pine Ave. She looked AH-MAZING, and was meeting and greeting fans at the drag tent, complete with a mini runway, before heading out to perform at Mary’s that evening…
We followed the sound of the music to find the biggest crowd gathered at the Fiesta Caliente stage. Although we just missed the live performance of Sonora Tropicana, the crowd was still having a ball, dancing to the DJ. Almost every other song was in Spanish, so the largely Hispanic crowd loved it, dancing and singing along. There were a few hot Latino boys dancing on stage and in cages, just for extra bonus eye candy! This was definitely a gathering spot for a majority of festival-goers, and with the 2022 headliners, it surely did not disappoint.
Saturday is never as well attended as Sunday when folks can catch the parade and the festival, but the crowd was decent for a Saturday day and energy seemed to be building as evening approached. I saw more straights and kids and families than ever before, and lots of youth– a nice reminder that the landscape of acceptance is changing. The transgender flag was definitely flying in full force, as well as the Progress Pride flag which includes transgender colors pink and light blue, as well as black and brown representing POC (People of Color). The whole gay community understands discrimination and is stepping up to defend the rights of the T and POC in our family. We’re all in this together! I was also happy to see a lot of Abortion Rights and Pro Choice activists. Clearly, we have missed the pride festivals that we skipped due to the pandemic. We still desperately need this space to come together and celebrate, and continue to band together to fight to retain our human rights. We are here, we are queer, and we are glad LB Pride is back! In the summer : )