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Lizzo’s Dallas Show Was a Religious Experience

Supposing God is a woman and descended to Earth in corporeal form, she would probably look and perform like Lizzo. Equal parts fed-up and friendly, eager to scold fuckboys but yearning to celebrate among her fellow women and all people, Lizzo descended upon South Side Ballroom to a rapturous reception from a flock of frenzied fans. This coming was marked by the typical rituals that precede such an occasion: cheery chants, ample imbibing and twerking contests.

Fans encountered age- and gender-defying revelry as soon as they entered the venue. People old and young, enraptured by the coming show, were teaching each other how to twerk like the artist who'd soon be taking the stage. A father and daughter watched as a crowd of fans took turns practicing the art of the twerk in an impromptu dance circle. The dad, wearing a “100% That Bitch” sweater pulled over his button-down, was eager to share that this was his and his daughter’s first concert together.

“We wanted it to be someone we both love,” he said. “So Lizzo made the most sense.”

His daughter, her eyes flicking between the twerk circle and a stage shrouded in darkness, seemed suspended between embarrassment and pride. Then the stage came alight.

An altar embossed with the word “Lizzo” shone a bright, beckoning white, and moments later, as the audience’s euphoria neared levels of uncontrollable glee, She emerged.

It was the kind of outfit one might expect from a savior: shiny, luminous and loose enough to allow the goddess wearing it plenty of flexibility to frenetically flaunt her skills as a flutist. To solidify her status as a true Renaissance woman, a performer able to seamlessly bridge the gap between classical music and hip-hop in a manner that no one in mainstream music ever has, Lizzo likes to play Sasha, her flute, as a mid-twerk accompaniment to hits like “Truth Hurts” and “Juice.” But before Sasha joined its owner on stage, the artist took her fans to church with a set that was emotional and affirming.

Lizzo's twerk fest reminded us that we, too, can be that bitch.EXPAND
Lizzo's twerk fest reminded us that we, too, can be that bitch.
Rachel Parker

“If you feel like a girl, bitch, be a boy. If you feel like a boy, bitch, be a boy. If you feel like neither, bitch, do you.”

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Such is the gospel of Lizzo, a body positive, self-care-preaching goddess who wants you to be yourself no matter what anyone — be they fuckboys or dads unlike the one who brought his daughter to the show — says or thinks.

Lizzo's Dallas set included the favorites that longtime fans and recent converts have come to love, including “Boys,” “Water Me” and the Missy Elliot collaboration “Tempo.” Fittingly, one of her first tunes was “Worship,” a song that compels its listeners to lift their hands to the sky in a show of devotion. Lizzo was joined onstage by a group of zealous acolytes, dancers who were as eager to exhibit their exceptional twerking skills as some of the loyal followers in the audience. Lizzo lovingly called these women her “big bitches,” but that was a name she was willing to share with all of the Lizzo evangelists in attendance.

“I’m feeling generous, Dallas,” the benevolent performer said. “Tonight, you’re all thick bitches.”

Lizzo clearly revels in the love her prophets profess. “I’m big, I’m black and the whole world loves me,” she exclaimed at one point, her mirthful cackle echoing through the halls of South Side Ballroom. But she was equally eager to tear down the facade that exists between performer and fan, to let the fans know she was one of them, still struggling to love herself and rid her life of bad men.

Mid-show, Lizzo took a seat on a stool near the edge of the stage and serenaded her flock with a powerhouse performance of “Jerome,” one of her slower records. The song orders its namesake to “take [his] ass home and come back when [he’s] grown,” a lyrical rebuke that reveals two key Lizzo traits: impatience and forgiveness. While the singer is averse to the fuckboy ethos permeating her life and those of her followers, she is also open to rehabilitating fuckboys, to welcoming them into her flock. The same singer who bellowed, “I'm sorry, 2 a.m. photos with smileys and hearts ain't the way to my juicy parts” to a crowd of breathless fans echoing every word, who also sang along, a few bars later, “I never said I was perfect, or you don't deserve a good person.” Even her breakup songs aren’t about saying “goodbye.” They are powerful pleas that call for the subject to get his life in order and promises that she will try to get hers together, too.

The implication is clear: Fuckboy or not, if you follow the path of Lizzo — a path of grace, self love and self care — you, too, can thrive. You, too, can be a bad bitch. In fact, if you look inside yourself, you can see that you already are.

Lizzo in her house of worship, South Side BallroomEXPAND
Lizzo in her house of worship, South Side Ballroom
Rachel Parker

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