Year in Review: 2021

The Phoenix’s Year in Review: 2021 in A&E

Roger HoThe Phoenix takes a look back at the arts & entertainment stories that shaped 2021.

Following a year where the arts shut down amid a pandemic, 2021 saw businesses open and classes return in person. Here’s a look back at The Phoenix arts and entertainment section’s biggest stories of the year.


Local Shop Brings Handmade Piñatas to Rogers Park

Rylee Tan, Jan. 20, 2021

Rylee Tan | The Phoenix Dulceria La Fiesta is located at 7053 N. Clark St.

The business’s promise on its website, “every piñata is unique,” is more than a promise — it’s an assertion of identity.

The Rogers Park party supply store, Dulceria La Fiesta (7053 N. Clark St.), has built an identity of perseverance. Following a fire three weeks after opening the shop resulting in “total loss,” a pandemic and not qualifying for Small Business Administration loans, Dulceria La Fiesta has refused to break as easily as its handmade piñatas do.


Chicago Brothers Discuss Their Quarantine-Inspired Woodworking Business

Alec Karam, Feb. 10, 2021

Courtesy of Steven Gomez It all started with an end table: the Gomez brothers — Marco, Santos and Steven — started a woodworking business in quarantine and have received an “overwhelming” response from the Rogers Park community.

Out of pandemic-induced isolation came a new career opportunity for Chicago brothers Santos and Steven Gomez. Santos began exploring his passion for woodworking after becoming a homeowner and soon the brothers had their own business, Hermanos Woodworks. 

What started as a side job became an endeavor both hoped to explore full time. From making desks, door signs and even a dog kennel, the brothers utilized social media to process orders, and the strong word-of-mouth surprised even them.


Reading Through the Screen: Psychics Move to Online Format

Paige Twenter, Feb. 17, 2021

Paige Twenter | The Phoenix Psychic and manager of Astrology & Crystals Psychic Center, 23-year-old Amber Stanley, lays out tarot cards from behind a COVID-19-precautionary plastic barrier on Feb. 6, 2021.

When COVID-19 slapped small businesses, Astrology & Crystals Psychic Center (430 W. Diversey Pkwy) evaded closure by expanding on one special service: virtual psychic sessions.

The sudden demand was initially “overwhelming” for story owner Faith Christo. If clients are stressed at the beginning of their session, Christo said she’ll balance their root chakra — also called the Muladhara, the chakra of stability and safety — and “tap into their inner-self.”


Taking Chaos On the Road: Eric Andre Shares Take On Unique Hidden Camera Comedy ‘Bad Trip’

Zack Miller, March 26, 2021

Courtesy of Netflix Eric Andre and Lil Rel Howery star as Chris and Bud in “Bad Trip.”

On the first day of shooting “Bad Trip,” Eric Andre and Lil Rel Howery were chased out of a barbershop by a knife-wielding man after entering a building joined at their prosthetic penises by a Chinese finger trap.

Andre said the hidden-camera prank movie was a “trial by fire.” 

“Nothing really prepares you for it until you do it,” Andre said. “It’s like learning how to swim by throwing yourself in the water and drowning for a second.”


‘I Just Keep Going’: From TikTok to Lollapalooza, Tai Verdes is Music’s Shining Poptimist

Alec Karam, Aug. 5, 2021

Roger Ho Breakout star Tai Verdes performed on the Bud Light Seltzer Stage at Lollapalooza July 30, 2021 in his first-ever festival performance.

After a year-long hiatus, music festivals returned to Chicago in 2021. And with a new year came new stars, few having as monumental a year as rising pop star Tai Verdes. 

From TikTok virality to performing at Lollapalooza, Verdes had a 2021 to remember — with no plans to slow down.

“I got people to catch up to,” he said. “You know, Taylor Swift’s out there playing chess. I’m trying to sign up for a chess game.”


Fashion on Campus Blooms After a Year on Zoom

Nicky Andrews and Natalie Doyle, Sept. 8, 2021

Graphic by Alec Karam Classes returned in-person this fall, and with that, so did fashion on campus.

After more than a year of virtual courses, students escaped constraining Zoom boxes to showcase their latest fits and TikTok-inspired trends around Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus this fall. From colorful pastels to preppy suits, students shedded their sweats for the first week of classes.

“I want to wear all of the fun clothes I bought over quarantine,” first-year Ellyana Willis said. “I’ve definitely been dressing up more, obviously, than when I was in online classes.”


‘Power That I Don’t Want to Have’: BTS — Behind the Stan

Alec Karam, Oct. 27, 2021

Graphic by Alec Karam Fandoms have exploded as the world of social media expanded, leading to the rise of “Stan Twitter.”

In the boom of internet culture, “stans” are everywhere. A portmanteau of “stalker fans,” stans are ride-or-die fans with an intense passion — whether for a pop star, an actor or even a politician. 

For the everyday people behind the screen, being a stan can be as much work as a full-time job.

Loyola junior Aube Paul said she used to spend roughly 40 hours a week on Twitter.

“It’s a sense of belonging,” Paul said. “Shoot, we talk about normal things you would in any clique. And people want to be a part of that — it’s your escape from reality.”


‘I Can Come Here and Find Everything I Need’: An Inside Look at Latina-Owned Food Mart La Unica

Angela Ramirez, Nov. 4, 2021

Nicky Andrews | The Phoenix La Unica, the latina-owned food mart, has been on Devon Ave since 1972., run by 63-year-old Francisca Aranda since 2009.

Francisca Aranda has owned the La Unica food mart since 2009. A decade and some change later, she’s gotten divorced and gone through a pandemic, but the store remains resilient as ever in Rogers Park. 

Elesa Guevara, a worker at La Unica, said her “heart lies in the kitchen” of the store. A neighborhood staple that’s stood the test of time, La Unica has called Rogers Park home since 1972.


‘It’s A Popularity Contest Masquerading as Something Useful’: The ‘Gossip Girl’ of Academia

Hanna Houser, Dec. 1, 2021

Zack Miller | The Phoenix RateMyProfessors is a site that allows students to review professors to provide context to future students, but some professors find it polarizing.

RateMyProfessors, a site for students to post anonymous reviews of their professors, received mixed reviews from Loyola students and staff. Some professors treat it with the same reliability as blind gossip sites. Others use their reviews as an ice breaker with students.

“If it’s on RateMyProfessors and teachers are getting bad reviews, there’s probably a reason,” first-year Pranati Sukh said.


Resident One Direction Stan Isn’t ‘Pleased’ with Harry Styles’ Beauty Brand

Kayleigh Padar, Dec. 8, 2021

Nicky Andrews | The PhoenixNews editor Kayleigh Padar was betrayed by Harry Styles after years of devoted standom.

For news editor Kayleigh Padar, there isn’t a day that goes by without thinking of Harry Styles. But when he launched his beauty brand “Pleasing,” she was anything but pleased. 

With him selling hoodies for $95 and some black nail polish sets for $65, Padar wrote to Styles a scathing critique of his business endeavors. 

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