After being sidelined in 2021 due to the ongoing pandemic, one of the country’s biggest urban Latin festivals is making its grand return to Los Angeles with a three-day event this weekend at the Crypto.com Arena.
Casting a shadow over this year’s Calibash — which will be headlined Jan. 14-16 by chart-toppers J Balvin, Daddy Yankee and Ozuna — is a surge in COVID-19 cases due to the highly contagious omicron variant, with major cities across the nation reporting record-breaking numbers of positive cases.
Los Angeles is no exception. On Monday, nearly 44,000 new cases (now surpassing more than 2 million cases since the beginning of the pandemic) and 13 deaths (more than 27,000 to date) were reported, according to the County of Los Angeles Public Health, with hospitalizations reaching the highest level since February 2021.
This kind of surge in cases after the holidays was something Alessandra Alarcón and her team at SBS Entertainment — which produces Calibash — expected, and they have been monitoring the situation closely while working hand in hand with health officials and the venue.
“We’re following the state and the venue’s health protocols to make sure we have the right procedures in place to keep everyone safe,” says Alarcón, president of SBS Entertainment, the live event arm of SBS, which also owns the SBS radio network and TV station La Mega. “We definitely kept an eye on all that was happening whilst we were planning and we continue to do so. At some point we have to live and move on and get back to work and do what we do best, which is to put on these important shows for our community.”
Indoor “mega events” remain open to the public in Los Angeles and, in order to attend, all guests age 2 and over are required to show proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within one day of the event for an antigen test or 2 days for a PCR test prior to entry. Attendees must also wear a face covering while indoors at all times unless actively eating or drinking.
For Calibash, if you aren’t vaccinated and forget to get tested, you can get a rapid test at Crypto.com Arena. “The ability to get tested at the site is super important,” says Christoper Martinez, director of business affairs at SBS. “And it’s being provided with proof of health insurance. There’s no out of pocket to the person getting tested because it’s billed to the health insurance.” If you don’t have health insurance, there is an out of pocket expense of $59.
While a handful of musicians — including Latin acts Carlos Vives and Los Temerarios — have already postponed their 2022 tours due to COVID-19 concerns, Calibash’s lineup remains the same as when it was unveiled back in June. Besides the aforementioned headliners, artists set to take the stage include Becky G, Kali Uchis, Myke Towers, Nicky Jam, Wisin & Yandel, Rauw Alejandro, Natti Natasha, Natanael Cano and Sech, among many others.
“We’re not expecting any changes to the lineup, we’ve got all of our contracts in place,” Alarcón states. “Everyone is very excited, the feedback from the artists and managers is that they’re excited to be part of the show. They’re supportive of all the protocols as well. They’re ready to perform.”
Day two of Calibash is already sold out, with roughly 13,000 tickets sold. “We’re expecting a full sell-out for all three nights,” says Martinez. If fans aren’t feeling comfortable attending the three-day event and already purchased tickets, at this time, organizers are not offering refunds.
SBS Entertainment is also moving forward with their back-to-back Día Nacional de la Banda (Jan. 28) and Calibash (Jan. 29) events in Las Vegas. “We’re seeing in the marketplace that there’s a demand,” says Martínez. “The audience wants to get out there, the fans want to enjoy and have a good time. It’s really up to us to help them follow all of the rules and procedures that are in place. In return, that will allow us to continue delivering these shows safely.”