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Rave Scout Diaries

             featuring interviews, reviews, and editorials covering a wide range of cultural and creative matters in dance music             

Rave Scout Cookies’ Voyage to the Queer Mecca of all CDMX’s Music Festivals: Backdoor XL

20 March, 2020



by Salman Jaberi

Rave Scout Cookies takes a journey into the orbit of electric-fluidity that fueled Mexico City’s BackDoor XL Queer Art and Music Festival last month

Backdoor XL, Courtesy of Bruno Destombes

A journey into the orbit of electric-fluidity, one that is quite unfathomable and rarely attainable — — — — This kind of robust spirit energy will only rise once in a queer moon and at specific times of the year, such as the summer in Whole United and the early stages of the Fall in Honcho Campout. This Queer Utopia that we have come together to build, whether consciously or unconsciously, is one that will go down in history unless the world is first wiped out by its indestructible growth. Finally, I come to discover the ingredients in what makes the selective few gatherings so magical, the underlying reason behind the perseverance, and bound to our subculture and our norms in such world of abnormality; it is oppression and freedom harmoniously coming together for a dance and a kiss that foregrounds the capillary-high-electric energy that fueled the Backdoor XL Queer Art and Music Festival that graced Mexico City last month.

Before we dive into this year’s queer galore, let’s get a little bit into the history of the Festival… Backdoor XL has an eccentric and worldly background. The event started in Vancouver, Canada, back in 2012. Getting the rave started has not always been easy for one of the founding partners, artist Matt Troy, to create a pillar for marginalized people at a time when the world was not able to process the rise and openness of LGBTQ+ culture. At the end of the day, with a good fight and uphold, things worked out for the Festival, which became a staple in the international LGBTQ+ community, with bold hedonism and the slow death of gender-related taboos. This is the third time Mexico City has been hit with the Festival, and it is a very significant event for a bustling global metropolis at a critical moment of change and inclusivity.

Backdoor XL, Courtesy of Bruno Destombes

Organizers Jerren Ronald, Matt Troy, Victor Rodríguez, Daniel Castillo, and Victor Altamirano came together to form a straightforward, self-styled mission statement: “Bridges between the vibrant underground queer of Mexico City and the wider international community.” It is safe to say that the organizers of the Festival were named to achieve that goal. Not only was the Festival populated with an impressive lineup of international artists, but people flocked from all over to attend. What made this occasion so special is that it wasn’t the traditional concept of a festival, where the attendees would’ve been inclined to go to a particular selected space and enjoy some side-attractions.

The structure and concept of the Festival are decentralized in nature, yet also profoundly embedded in Mexico City’s underground, as well as in the local underground scene. What impressed and fascinated me, above all, was the itinerary and location changes. It must not have been easy to coordinate such a decentralized and widespread event in the hustle and bustle of a city like CDMX, but the Backdoor XL team deliberately designed it so delicately and made it an entirely smooth process for everyone to manage and the hard work paid off. It was easy to get around the venues, whether you used it by boarding a party bus or uber rides. It would probably have been much more practical for the organizers to reduce their challenges and hold all their events in one location, particularly given all audiences coming from abroad and some traveling abroad for the first time.

Backdoor XL, Courtesy of Bruno Destombes

The Festival considered the importance of giving a voice to the local community and the organizers ensured each location is adequately mapped and programmed, utilizing various neighborhoods and areas to provide the non-local queer community an opportunity to explore and discover the beauty and delights of Mexico City instead of being confined to a single space. Events had taken place in various venues and locations. Some of the most memorable events took place in non-traditional spaces, warehouses and abandoned historic buildings, such as Ex-Fabrica, a former wheat factory, and a former prison for female prisoners, Ex-Carcel de Mujeres, and a historic hotel that had been officially designated for out-of-town guests, the Selina, known to be CDMX’s Chelsea Hotel, all reinvented into rave realms — a powerful symbol of a city that is experiencing the wind of change yet remains true to its roots.

What made the atmosphere so beautiful was that even though the attendees were spread out, the overall atmosphere remained consistent throughout the Festival. Better yet, the atmosphere, along with the fashion show, drag shows, and the great sets of some of the most incredible artists and our queer family members on the local and international scene, formed four days of pure bliss.

Personally, this wasn’t my first visit to CDMX. I was accidentally introduced to the Por Detroit raves when I visited the city four years ago. I stayed there for three weeks because I needed to perform a root canal. Since I didn’t have dental insurance when I moved to the US for the first time, doing it in Mexico was a lot more affordable. I can’t remember a moment when I was alone, and without any plans, given that I was visiting alone. The local community took me as their own and showed me everything there was to see and do. With each visit, CDMX surprises me with new experiences, new friends and new sounds.

Backdoor XL, Courtesy of Bruno Destombes

I checked into my room at the Selina Hotel — -the rooms had wide and open windows facing well into the hotels’ inner-square courtyard and close to the other rooms, with the curtains wide open, it was like watching some sort of a version of queer-life simulation of the sims; with views of Aeryn Pfaff frolicking around his room in white socks and a jockstrap, a group of bears sipping and sharing the tea on the bed on the lower floor, I knew I was home and with my queer family.

As they say, third time’s the charm. This novel edition of Backdoor XL in Mexico City undoubtedly brought us a Queer Utopian Playground. Backdoor invited some of the most beloved friends, artists, dance crews, DJs, and performers, boldly aiming to take the Festival to new heights. And quite frankly, judging by the attendees, Backdoor managed to bring a global audience to the city fulfilling their primary mission successfully.

Backdoor XL, Courtesy of Bruno Destombes

During my visit to the Festival, I had the pleasure of meeting some of the sweetest ravers, as well as artists and other visitors who came to CDMX for the special occasion. Someone who even said they had never used their passports until this trip, and it was amazing to see how this Festival became a pivotal moment for so many folks who had the opportunity to experience something new for the very first time.

Organizers Jerren, Matt, and Victor did a remarkable job because the diverse roster brought international exposure to the Festival. In other words, having a number of artists from different regions really did benefit their mission and brought a more excellent representation and painted a fuller picture of the CDMX underground queer community.

According to organizers Jerren Ronald and Matt Troy, “The line-up assembled itself, organically, from the many shared experiences of a quickly growing international community of queer rebels, outcasts, and lovers who are tired of the status quo of gay, rich, nightlife. Our primary concerns were to create a festival accessible across disparate regions, geographies, laws, challenges, and histories.” This is a very inclusive spirit, which brought a much-needed breath of fresh air to the scene.

The acts line up included some of the most prominent in the underground queer global community — — Throughout the span of 4 days; the Festival managed to create an inclusive, fun atmosphere that actually felt like a perfect fit with Mexico City. As one of the largest cities in the world, this town is a symbol of multiculturalism — a place where old traditions and values clash with new ideas, art, and the willingness to share and express different lifestyles and points of view. This Festival has been an excellent opportunity for the local underground scene to stand tall and proud, and revel in a fitting international atmosphere in the name of great music, art, and community.

Backdoor XL, Courtesy of Bruno Destombes

Ravers stomped and romped to the killer sets, and one in particular internally killed whatever was left of my soul, Frankie Teardrop. As well as celebrated acts such as Por Detroit, The Carry Nation, Carlos Esquivel, Vicki Powell, to name a few, not to mention the fantastic collective work and effort of the local artists and the global queer family. Of course, when our fellow international artists and friends never serve us nothing less than a flaming hot meal with every set they perform — — I was blown away with the local artists and DJs that I don’t normally have exposure to. Every act performed was phenomenal, but perhaps, what was even more inspiring was to witness how many local artists, collectives, and platforms managed to create such great fashion, art, and sass, also when coming from communities that are often quite conservative and oppressive. One of them, DJ Verònica Picazo, has high hopes for the future of her homeland: “I am convinced that our community is progressively entering a new world,” she stated. However, she also added that she believes that “It’s not completely safe for all of us in the social ground. As a woman, I notice a certain segregation posture and vibe from gay males, making us feel like outsiders at times.” Although Verònica thinks that this is disappointing and painful, she still believes that the LGBT+ community will open in the next five years. Events like BackDoor XL are certainly a good sign of unity and inclusivity within our community!

Another talented local artist and Resident DJ of the infamous CDMX-based platform PERVERT, Juan Villaseñor, also spoke about the favorable wind of change in the local scene. “Here in the city, the electronic scene is growing every year. Passion and diversity are two concepts that guide this queer family growth in CDMX.” These were only some of the many voices, getting to express their talent, creativity, views, and musicality because of this phenomenal get together, which truly brought the world together and gave the Mexican scene the chance to shine internationally.

Ultimately, this Festival was far more than just a series of events. BackDoor XL is a growing monument, which represents a true renaissance for Mexico City, the local beauties altogether, and the host country as a whole.


Rave Scout Cookies interviewed a selection of its’ Favorite Cookies and Acts of the Festival, and you can trip out on some of our full, in-depth interviews in the next few days. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for updates.

Find out more about BackDoor XL and related events on the Official Instagram Page.

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Rave Scout Diaries

DIARY series chronicling a diverse roster of marginalized voices through interviews, reviews, and editorial columns on various cultural and creative MATTERS in dance music.