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Ivy Queen’s “Quiero Bailar” Is Still Essential (& Iconic) 20 Years Later

Before Karol G, Natti Natasha, and Becky G, came Ivy Queen. The Puerto Rican pioneer undeniably revolutionized the reggaeton music scene when she challenged her male peers to old-school hype battles in San Juan’s The Noise in the late '90s. It was then that she gained respect and recognition, but she became a sensation with the release of the feminist anthem “Quiero Bailar” in 2003, a song that challenged sexist rules about bodily autonomy, on and off the dance floor. Twenty years later, the song’s impact is still felt. 
“I think [Ivy Queen] was ahead of her time. [In the song], she’s talking about respect and consent. These weren’t topics that were verbalized before,” says Nathasha Bonet, a Puerto Rican content creator. “We are very aware of how lyrics impact our society nowadays, but she was already doing that 20 years ago. She was embracing her sexuality by saying, ‘I want to kiss you. I want to dance sensually with you, but this is my boundary.’ It’s such a powerful song.” 
Bonet has a crystal-clear memory of the first time she listened to the song: She was about 9 or 10 years old, sitting in the car with her cousin while their mamás shopped around. She may have been too young to fully comprehend the significance of the song back then, but listening to it today, as a bisexual woman who fully owns her identity and sexuality, the song feels like a girl’s night out anthem. 

"She was embracing her sexuality by saying, ‘I want to kiss you. I want to dance sensually with you, but this is my boundary.’ It’s such a powerful song."

Nathasha Bonet
“She’s saying, ‘These are my rules, and you need to respect them,’ so I really love that about [the lyrics.] That was the first time I’d heard an artist standing up for herself,” Bonet adds. “It makes you realize you can do all these things, and yet still govern your body. I think, before, people didn’t see a woman as a person that could make choices, someone that could be flirty but not want anything further physically, that you can say ‘yes’ to some things and ‘no’ to others, as the song describes.” 
In 2023, it’s not unusual to hear songs that portray women as independent, breadwinners, and sexual beings. Hits like Karol G and Shakira's “TQG” and Becky G and Karol G's “MAMIII” are sung in the bedroom and danced in the clubs. But when the urbano movement first began, this was not readily accepted. 
“I grew up hearing my mom and aunts talk about things like, ‘Women should save themselves for marriage’ or that ‘Women shouldn't be too provocative, dress a certain way, act a certain way,’ but [Ivy Queen] had no shame in saying, ‘This is my body, and you're not going to dictate how I'm viewed,’” says Flavia Cornejo, a Peruvian-America freelance writer. “What she talks about in the song is still very relevant today and will continue to be as long as women don't have equal rights and aren’t seen the same as men.”
Ivy Queen had no issue disrupting a male-dominated genre; she was never calladita. The iconic track not only showcased her talent as an artist but also broke barriers, challenged stereotypes, and reshaped reggaeton, all while she emerged as a powerful female figure whose impact still resonates in today’s music industry. 
"Quiero Bailar" presented a sensual, strong, confident, and assertive female perspective, celebrating women's autonomy and sexuality in a genre often criticized for its objectification of women. Two decades later, the song is more relevant than ever, and Lourdes Rodríguez, a Dominican teacher, believes the lyrics make it timeless. 

"Ivy Queen had no issue disrupting a male-dominated genre; she was never calladita."

victoria Leandra
“When you take away the song’s rhythm, that song is a poem,” Rodríguez says. “I was still young when I first listened to it, but now as an adult, I can fully appreciate [its meaning].” 
Her older siblings first introduced her to the song on a family road trip to the beach in Cabarete. Since then, the song has become her go-to for karaoke night: “When they play it, I go crazy. I grab the mic and start shouting, Señoras y señores, Bienvenidos (welcome) al party. Agarren a su pareja (por la cintura) y prepárense porque lo que viene no está fácil.’ I make everyone stand up and clap while I dance.”
Rodríguez, also a fan of Ivy Queen’s “La Vida Es Así,” recognizes the emotional depth of “Quiero Bailar.” Her heartfelt delivery and emotionally charged lyrics conveyed what Latina women have felt deep inside but were too conditioned to let out. Ivy Queen demonstrated reggaeton’s capacity to explore real-life issues beyond just party anthems. 

"I cannot think of a song that holds more cultural significance for women."

“With so many femicides, especially in countries like the Dominican Republic, a song like this is important. It allows women to feel empowered about their rights and encouraged to demand respect,” Rodríguez says. “People may not realize the true meaning of the song simply because it’s reggaeton.” 
Despite peaking at No. 8 on Billboard’s Latin Rhythm Airplay chart in the 2000s, "Quiero Bailar" continues to be a celebrated, classic hit, one that Latinas dance to and rally behind. 
“I cannot think of a song that holds more cultural significance for women,” Bonet says. “Yes, there are other Latina artists talking about empowerment nowadays, but Ivy Queen was talking about deep stuff, real societal issues. We may not want to recognize it, but ‘Quiero Bailar’ also speaks about rape and sexual aggressions. Even though it sounds like reggaeton, she’s making a political stand: Women are not anyone’s property but their own.”

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