“To be allowed to be queer in Portugal is still a privilege”

Coming up tonight, Thursday evening, at Gaukurinn bar, Fado Bicha will subvert a traditional Portuguese music genre to express a moving perspective on queer identities and experiences in a deeply poetic – yet fiercely activist – show. Be prepared as Lila (singer, writer) and João (instrumentalist, arranger) vow to take you on the craziest emotional rollercoaster, from inspiration to giggles and maybe even tears.
In the meantime, they kindly agreed to answer our many questions about fado, subversion, perceptions of sexual/gender difference in Portugal and much more.

How did you guys end up in Iceland of all places in the heart of winter? What’s got into you?
Lila: “Ahaha! It’s a funny story, actually. We bought the tickets to come last June. I have had the dream to visit Iceland since I was a child, there was always something pulling me, some kind of mythical projection, even before I fell in love with artists like Björk, Sigur Rós or Ólöf Arnalds. I was telling João about this and also that I have a childhood friend living in Akureyri for some years and I was so sorry I hadn’t visited her yet. At the same time, João was checking for flights on his phone, not telling me. And he found a flight for 200€ and said I’m gonna buy it! And I was like OK! So that was it. It was only in December that I remembered again we were coming to Iceland and with a very unpleasant twist: we were broke as shit! We thought of cancelling the trip, then we thought we could play outside for money (we forgot about the cold) and then we started searching for places where we could perform and Gaukurinn opened their doors to us. So that’s the story of our winter journey to the north.”

“To be allowed to be queer in Portugal is still a privilege that comes along with economic power or influence, like in artistic milieus. It’s definitely not a feature easily displayed outside of the main urban centers and even there it’s not easy.”

Can you explain to our least cosmopolitan readers what Fado Bicha stands for?
Lila: “Fado is a traditional music genre in Portugal, possibly the one most linked to a national identity and heritage; it began to solidify as a genre in itself in the end of the 18th century and, although it was, in the beginning, an expression of the outcasts of the society (poor people, migrants, sexual workers, alcoholics) it became quite elitist through time and very conservative (mostly because it was instrumentalized during the 40-years dictatorship in Portugal). And bicha (pronounced “beesha”) is a very strong slur to offend a (person perceived as a) man who behaves in a way that is considered feminine. It’s a verbal punishment for “wrongful effemination”, showing how the feminine itself is considered a lower, shameful category in a patriarchal society such as Portugal.

We refused to accept that our queer identities didn’t belong or fit in the universe of fado and created a new space where we could explore this heritage through our experiences and viewpoints, speaking and singing about violence, sex, desire, community, resistance, in an ultimately throwback to the time when fado was an intervention song.”

If I’ve got my classics right, fado is usually quite sad: if I come to your show tonight, should I bring tissues?
João: “Ahaha, you definitely should! Fado is not only sad, it’s emotional and genuine in general, and the topics can go from joyful appreciation and carelessness to despair and death. Our show is also very complete in terms of emotions, given that we speak about stories of violence and oppression but also of overcoming, community, resistance and love, mostly of queer existence but also about Portuguese History (endemic racism, Slavery), feminism and the history of fado itself.”

Not only is fado usually sad, it’s traditionally non-political if I’m not mistaken (or very low-key): how did you come to subvert the genre?
Lila: “You seem to know a lot about fado! True, it hasn’t been political at all in the last decades and there aren’t many traces of this feature in older periods – there are some, at the cross of the 20th century, linked with anarchism, republicanism and political critique. For us, it was only natural to go that way. Our bodies and expressions are necessarily political in that we need to understand our political place in the world in order to create strategies of survival and thriving. The clash that I felt when I first started singing fado (that if I wanted to sing, I would have to give up parts of myself and conform to a male prototype, when I’m not even a man) pushed me to wanting to use fado as a tool of expression and intervention. Furthermore, I feel that fado is perfect for that! The words, the poems are very central to the genre, it’s a very verbal kind of music. And the musicality of it is so popular, so easily reachable, especially for someone growing up in Portugal. If you mix those two features, you get the perfect tool for creating powerful musical narratives of intervention!”

What does it feel to be queer in Portugal? How’s the general attitude toward queerness?
João: “Hummm… I would say the general attitude is quite violent. At home, in the schools, in the public space. Gender roles are still very rigid and transgression is very signaled and often punished, mostly for queer gays and trans-feminine people. To be allowed to be queer in Portugal is still a privilege that comes along with economic power or influence, like in artistic milieus. It’s definitely not a feature easily displayed outside of the main urban centers and even there it’s not easy. The thing is that Portuguese culture values modesty and restraint so, as you get older, this violence turns from direct bullying and physical violence in school to more insidious ways of discriminating and oppressing, that are not easily recognizable by others, which leads to situations of isolation. Queer people and especially trans people still face very precarious living and working conditions. I would say that things improved over the last years, Portugal has a very advanced legislation regarding LGBTI issues but the general population remains very ignorant about who we are and about what our undeterrable existence says about the ruling concepts of gender and identity.”

Lila and João.

What have you heard or experienced in regards to the LGTBQ+ scene in Iceland?
Lila: “About the LGBTI art Scene, not much to be honest… I heard and read about Hatari, who represented Iceland in last year’s Eurovision but I didn’t watch the performance because I personally boycotted the whole event for being held in Israel. I know that John Grant is living in Iceland, he’s amazing! I hope we get a chance in these 10 days we’ll be here to get to know about more artists. In general, I know Iceland is one of the safest places in the world to be LGBTI, has advanced legislation… I don’t know so much about trans rights – well I know you don’t have gender self-determination, which is, in my opinion, a basic human right, that we were only able to achieve in Portugal in 2018.”

“Queer people and especially trans peoplw still face very precarious living and working conditions.”

What’s next after Gaukurinn?
João: “Well, after Gaukurinn, we go to Akureyri, to meet Lila’s friends and we’ll be staying there, enjoying their company and visiting different places in the north of Iceland. The north of the north!! We’re bracing ourselves already. Then, we go back to Portugal and keep recording our first album, which will come out hopefully in June.”

The Hamburger Factory
- gourmet burgers

Ok. You’re in Iceland. Most likely for the first time.

You will probably bathe in the Blue Lagoon and take a road trip to Gullfoss and
Geysir. That’s all well and good. But neither Geysir’s nor waterfalls are
something you eat. That’s why we have 15 brilliant and creative hamburgers at
The Hamburger Factory. And they are all perfectly square. Don’t miss out on
Iceland’s most beloved hamburgers.

The Hamburger Factory is Iceland’s most innovative gourmet burger chain.
Packed with burger-craving customers since it’s opening in 2010, among the
regulars is Iceland’s best known fisherman, Eric Clapton. In our restaurants we
welcome tourists with our newspaper like menu and smiley service. They are
packed with fun items and memorable connections to Icelandic pop culture.

Locations:

Omnom Chocolate
- award-winning chocolate maker

    Omnom Chocolate is an Icelandic craft chocolate company based in Reykjavík. We produce handcrafted chocolate from organic cacao beans sourced ethically and sustainably. We’ve developed direct relationships to create premium chocolate with fine flavor cacao beans.

    Our creative flavors are carefully crafted by meticulous chocolate makers. The cacao beans are roasted, winnowed, ground, and refined into melty-smooth chocolate.

    Omnom’s process is one of constant exploration, invention, and experimentation. If it doesn’t please us, if something isn’t absolutely delicious, there’s no reason to be doing it. So, we always start with our taste buds and follow our instincts. Our team searches for the finest ingredients in the world and new ways to improve chocolate. This obsession with knowing where our ingredients come from has led us around the corner to dairy farms in the Icelandic countryside and all the way to rainforest cacao farms of Nicaragua.

    In only a few short years, we’ve grown from our 50 sq. m. petrol station space and become an award-winning chocolate maker. Now, with our headquarters in 101 Reykjavík, our chocolate is sent out around Iceland and all over the world.

    At the end of the day, our goal is to make chocolate.

     

    Alfred’s Apartments
    - gay owned an operated

      Alfred’s Apartments and Alfred’s Studios is a gay operated and owned accommodation in the heart of Reykjavik.

      Alfred’s Apartments offers spacious apartments at a good price located just around the corner from Laugavegur shopping street. You can choose the apartment starting from a Small Studio for 2 persons to a large One-bedroom Apartment with balcony for 5 persons.

      Their staff will ensure your comfort during the stay and provide the most updated information about the city, gay and night life in Reykjavik.

      Each apartment has a private bathroom with a shower, fully equipped kitchen and free Wi-Fi. Guests can buy groceries at the local grocery store 50 meters from the apartments. Because of their very central location, numerous shops, restaurants and cafés are available in the surrounding area. The Church of Hallgrimur is located 350 m from the apartments, a tourist agency is just 50 m away and the nearest gay bar is less than 5 minutes walking distance.

      Laekur hostel
      In the hostel we have dorms for 4-8 persons with shared kitchen and bathroom facilities. The rooms are furnished with free internet, lockers, and a USB charger by each bed. The beds have linen provided and you can rent a towel in the cafe on the ground floor for 5 EUR.

      All the dorms are mixed with both genders. You can also book a whole room with 4-8 bunker beds.

      Blue Lagoon
      - a world of wonder

      Named by National Geographic as one of the 25 Wonders of the World, the Blue Lagoon is a shimmering expanse of warmth, relaxation, and rejuvenation. Its unique geothermal seawater comes from 2000 meters within the earth where sea and fresh water converge in a tectonic frontier of porous lava and searing heat. Propelled by extreme pressure, the water ascends to the earth’s surface, emerging enriched with silica, algae, and minerals: the elements that endow Blue Lagoon geothermal seawater with its radiant, healing properties.

      From its humble beginnings in the shadows of a geothermal power plant, Blue Lagoon has evolved into a world of wonder, now encompassing a hotel, a restaurant, a luxury lounge, a renowned line of skin care, a research center, in-water massage, and a wealth of spa and refreshment facilities.

      Achieving harmony with the volcanic landscape of Iceland’s Reykjanes lava plain, the lagoon and its surrounding architecture embody the unification of the man-made and the natural, and adhere to the highest principles of sustainability.

      Blue Lagoon. A wonder of the world. A world of wonder.

      Whales of Iceland
      - larger than life

      Whales of Iceland is the largest whale exhibition in Europe (and perhaps even the world), where guests can learn about the giants of the sea in a calm and modern environment. The permanent exhibition features whales like guests have never seen them before. It is truly a giant experience.

      Landsbankinn
      - leading financial institution

      Landsbankinn is a leading Icelandic financial institution. It offers a full range of financial services and is the market leader in the Icelandic financial service sector with the largest branch network.

      The present bank was established on 7 October 2008 but the history of its predecessor dates back to 1886. The bank is owned by the National Treasury of Iceland, which holds 98.2% of its share capital, and other shareholders who own 1.8%.

      Landsbankinn’s strategy is to provide comprehensive financial services that meet customer’s needs. It emphasizes providing exemplary service to customers, developing e-banking for their convenience, increasing the efficiency of support functions, modernizing its technology and ensuring effective utilization of its balance sheet.

      The bank’s vision is to be exemplary and its role is to be a trusted financial partner.

      Special emphasis is placed on promoting a performance-oriented culture in the bank. To follow up on the implementation of this strategy, the bank has defined key goals which are measured regularly to determine progress. These goals include, for example, customer satisfaction and loyalty, profitability, cost efficiency and the correlation between risk appetite and employee satisfaction.

      Landsbankinn wishes to lead the development of a sustainable society in Iceland by integrating economic, social and environmental concerns in its operations. The Bank aims to ensure that both its owners and society at large benefit from its activities.

      It intends to achieve this aim by building solid infrastructure and a strong team of 1.100 employees, by listening to its customers and by respecting and encouraging its employees to actively participate in their community. Landsbankinn was a founding member of Festa, a Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility, and is a member of the UN Global Compact.

      Landsbankinn has been a proud sponsor of the Reykjavik Pride since it was first celebrated in Iceland.

      Dohop
      - get inspired

      Dohop allows people to find the cheapest flights available with just one click. Founded in Reykjavik in 2004, it is the only Icelandic company of its kind and quickly became the go-to tool for finding cheap flights among the locals. Dohop finds the best deals among hundreds of different airlines and online travel agencies, to make sure that the user is getting the cheapest price. Dohop also offers hotel and car rental search engines, so users can make all of their travel bookings from a single website.

      Dohop‘s specialty is finding so-called “self-connect” flight options, which can save travelers money by booking a ticket through two or more different airlines. The ability to look for these self-connect option is what sets Dohop apart from its competition, as it can save people hundreds of dollars on certain routes.

      More recently, Dohop has developed a unique product called Dohop Go!, which allows users to check for the cheapest available flights from their home airport. This tool is perfect for those who are looking for travel inspiration but are not willing to overpay for their flight ticket. Dohop Go! is now available in the Dohop Flights App, both for Android and iOS, along with its traditional flight, hotel, and car search engines. “

      Macland
      - for all your Apple needs

      From starting out as a proper startup with only a good idea and the need to change things, to becoming an established company with 6 employees. Starting from scratch and expanding organically has allowed us to love our expansion and take our customers on the ride with us.

      Macland is located at Laugavegur 23 (101, Downtown Reykjavik)
      For all your Apple needs. We are here.

      Aurora Reykjavik
      - northern lights center

        Aurora Reykjavik is a Northern Lights Center situated in downtown Reykjavík at the Old Harbor next to Icelandair Hotel Marina and Vikin Maritime Museum.

        Aurora Reykjavík is Iceland’s first educational and recreational Northern Lights Center where multimedia is used to explain when, why and how the Northern Lights work, with the highlights being large HD projection of the Aurora’s. We also share myths and legends about what our ancestor thought about those mystical lights.

        The Northern Lights Center is for all ages. Children are our favorite guests and we created the exhibition in a way that children can have a look freely and parents don’t have to worry about things being broken.

        Aurora Reykjavik offers a great selection of souvenirs that are designed and made by Icelanders along with nice little coffee corner, where you can enjoy free coffee and tea while browsing through the souvenirs or just planning your next step.

        Contact Aurora

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          Ísey skyr
          - once tasted never forgotten

          Our Story
          Once upon a time, 1,100 years ago in fact, Nordic settlers began arriving in Iceland. They brought with them the skills and knowledge for producing skyr. As time passed, the know-how and recipe for this nutritious food slowly faded out elsewhere in the Nordic region. Luckily, the Icelandic skyr-making tradition continued.

          For centuries, Icelandic skyr formed a cornerstone of the national diet, helping to keep people strong in living conditions that were often harsh. On family farms countrywide, it was the women who nurtured this dairy and passing on both the recipe and the original Icelandic skyr cultures from mother to daughter.

          Ísey skyr builds on this remarkable legacy. It was some of those very same women, the recipients of their mothers’ expertise, who, around 90 years ago, taught Icelandic dairy scientists the art of skyr-making. The production process is more high-tech these days, and the quality standards more rigorous. However, the basic recipe and the use of original cultures to ferment the skimmed milk remain the same. Protein rich, fat-free, creamy and delicious – Ísey skyr is as relevant to consumers now as it was all those centuries ago.
          This is our secret and you are in on it

          You can read more about Ísey skyr on our website.

          Núðluskálin
          - noodle bar

          Núðluskálin is a small gay owned and operated fusion noodle bar.

          All of our courses are individually made from fresh ingredients and therefore highly customisable.
          We offer fully Vegan versions of all courses.
          Though originally a take-away we now seat over 30 people.

          Núðluskálin is located right in the heart of Reykjavík on Skólavörðustígur 8 (street leading up to the big Church) near the junction with Laugavegur (main street).

          Seatours
          - adventure cruise

          Ferry Baldur – the gate to the West fjords
          and VikingSushi Adventure – Bird & Nature watching Tour for everyone all year around

          The “VikingSushi Adventure” is the right boat tour for travelers who are adventurous and want to experience something new – close up to the nature seafood simply doesn’t come fresher than this! The archipelago area of the Breidafjordur Bay always surprises her visitors during winter or summer with spectacular sights. Where else you get to try delicious fresh scallops and sea urchin roe straight from the ocean served with soy sauce, wasabi and ginger.

          600x400-seatours-tasting

          This old volcanic area, characterized by the typical basalt formations of the islands, is the home of countless birds. Here you will also find the strongest currents in Iceland. The VikingSushi Tour takes roughly two hours and our captain is also the tour guide.

          600x400-seatours

          The VikingSushi Tour is a true adventure through incredible nature which should not be missed by any traveler to West Iceland.

          Birds, possible to spot:
          -puffins (from the middle of April until the middle of August)
          -eider ducks
          -shags
          -kittiwakes
          -fulmars
          -white-tailed eagle

          The car ferry Baldur is the bridge to the West fjords via the island Flatey
          Ferry Baldur crosses Breidafjordur Bay daily from Stykkisholmur on the Snæfellsnes peninsula to Brjanslaekur in the north. A ferry ride considerably shortens the route between the south and mid-west of the country and the West Fjords region. It also gives you the opportunity to experience a floating restaurant.

          Take a stopover at the charming island Flatey when you are crossing the bay or go to a day tour to Flatey and back to Stykkishólmur. At Flatey are no cars allowed and between the houses of the 18th century you get the feeling of a journey back in time.

          Contact Us


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          Thank You. We will contact you as soon as possible.