Music festival season is drawing to a close for 2019, but there's still one left to make its mark: Yola Día. In a world where women have a hard time getting equitable space on festival bills, or earning headlining spots, Yola Día is taking the woman-made festival one step further. In addition to an all-woman bill that includes Lykke Li, Megan Thee Stallion, Cat Power, Courtney Love, Sophie, Kelsea Lu, Cupcakke, Empress Of, and Lia Ices, there's a team of all-woman bartenders, restaurateurs, and artists who will display work on the festival grounds in Los Angeles's Historic State Park. It's unlike any other festival out there.
"Everything we do comes from the heart, and it’s sprung from friendship, sisterhood and community. To have the opportunity to celebrate the talents and strength of the women we admire was the impetus to start this festival," headliner and co-organizer Lykke Li told Refinery29 in an email. "Art is one of the best ways to galvanize and touch people, of all kinds. That is our goal."
Yola Día is a one-of-a-kind experiment in current festival culture; rather than slowly integrating more women into a lineup, this festival is centering its mission on women. Looking back, it was Lilith Fair — the highly successful '90s festival with a three-year run — that first gave women the headlining spots promoters felt wouldn't draw an audience and proved that music by women could sell tickets. Yola Día takes the idea one step further with a line-up of chefs and mixologists who are female-identifying to center the entire experience, front to back, on the talents of women. An all-woman security service will provide additional security on the grounds. A limited run of merch is being created by a woman-led company using recycled cotton. In short: Yola Día is aiming to be a festival run entirely by women, in every facet.
Beyond amplifying the voices of woman artists across multiple disciplines and creating space for visionary women, Yola Día wants to engage their audience in civic responsibility. One dollar per ticket sold will be donated to the Downtown Women's Center in Los Angeles. Activist Dolores Huerta, the co-founder of the United Farm Workers Association with César Chávez and a leader in the Chicano civil rights movement, will speak. The artwork on display will be auctioned, with proceeds benefitting the ACLU's immigration law and policy program in Los Angeles.
"We are also using this day as a place and time of action," Li said. "We ourselves are hungry to do something unifying in the face of serious immigration and human rights issues in this country, and we are excited that we can incorporate elements that don’t typically exist in the music festival space," Li explained.