If you told me a week ago I’d be seeing Waka Flocka in Florence I probably wouldn’t have believed you, but crazier things have happened. Either way, a piece of home across the world brought me that much closer to happiness within myself.
Before I get into the delayed set that was probably not worth the wait, it is important to address the global issues that haven’t changed regardless of the country or venue. By this time, it is 11 p.m. and something about the silent streets of Florence makes things that much more inviting. The line stretches a good bit down the sidewalk and somehow, the scene reminds me of Madison in an uncomfortable light. My body tenses up like it belongs in defense mode.
If you aren’t too familiar with Florence, Italy—drinking has no age limit. While my guess is that the crowd is mainly students studying abroad, I begin to question how this concert would create a space for mostly white students. I can go as far as saying that white students shouldn’t be saying the “N” word in any context or any song, but alcohol seems to change that matter, at least for them. With an entirely over-alcohol-consumed audience before the concert, the floor sticky in every which way, restrooms backed to the brink with mainly white women, it would seem that this environment has become natural to everyone but myself. I hear the “N” word entirely too often from white people who cannot care less if black and brown lives are dying. A song does not change language for races. A rap song does not open room for white people to use the “N” word in a song without acknowledging the root of the word first. The party after dark doesn’t change being brown and black seven days a week. Using the “N” word doesn’t apply to white people the one night Waka comes to Florence. Aboard doesn’t mean on board if you don’t help the oppressed fight back.
A part of me wonders if talking about homophobia and loose language is necessary halfway across the world. I sit back and watch the U.S. divide itself between the power of the white man and the belief that the white woman is equal, as long as he is in charge of her body. I think, “What does it matter if I speak up now or later?” Mainly due to the fact that I stand by the back railing of the dance floor while a black man approaches me to ask a question. The white man in VIP assumes that he’s trying to make a move on me and quickly responds with a “cut-throat” gesture, proceeding to say “What the f--k, not here man” repeatedly. My mentality finds that anger is not the response to the white man scared of his own masculine fragility. His ego will not consume itself in finding the answer to equality, but rather he will chug his six beer cans in VIP and think he is better than the gay man standing idly behind him. In it’s truest form, karma will work wonders while he gets kicked out of VIP and, for some icing on the cake, the club.
What does this man represent to me and the rest of the LGBTQ+ community? Denial. Like Trump and Pence, the denial of the LGBTQ+ community will only make us stronger. What I haven’t been through is the real question. The fight never stopped when Trump was elected into office. The fight didn’t stop after this man was kicked out of the club. The fight has never stopped, but it hasn’t destroyed us either.
By the time 2 a.m. rolls around, Waka Flocka finally made his appearance to a crowd of completely intoxicated teenagers. To focus on Waka’s set would be difficult considering the amount of people, particularly drunk white women, on and off the stage. Albeit, the club venue isn’t your run of the mill arena and the view is pretty decent throughout the entire club. Ironically, the DJ introduced every city but Atlanta. Nothing memorable, but definitely a change of routine for the night. I left unimpressed with the audience and joyful at Waka’s appearance in Florence. Waka is definitely a rapper that caters to his audience, regardless of location. After seeing him perform live before, one thing hasn’t changed, his authenticity. Before beginning his set, he urged everyone to make room not for him, but for themselves. “Everyone chill out, we’re here to party. No pushing. It’s all about the love.” In a string of quickly spun songs, Waka finished his set within 45 minutes.
Time is imaginable in Florence. Nothing truly relies on structure and it’s beautiful. These 45 minutes however, were much more different. It felt like a battle of keeping your face from getting wet with alcohol or dodging the falling drunk girls left and right. My friend and I were watching the concert in the VIP section of the stage after being asked by a friend to join him. Things turned out a little differently for some girls who desperately tried to get themselves in, completely intoxicated. At one point, a woman hurled herself onto a bodyguard and began forcefully pushing herself on him to gain access. He let her in, but his intentions had something else in mind. After the concert had concluded, he took her toward the restroom, completely aware that others were onlookers. Her friends made no attempt in stopping her and they left.
The price of luxury isn’t all that expensive at a rap concert with a short skirt and some booze. During the entire concert, it would seem that Waka’s security lacked security. It isn’t Waka’s responsibility to know what his security is doing with intoxicated white women at concerts, but it is his job to know who he is hiring. Waka Flocka in Florence raises cross-country awareness. His set saw much more than the music could compare. In a short set, with many DJ fillers, Waka turned Florence into a Tuesday night party. Would I pay to see Waka Flocka again? Yes, but only in Atlanta.