It had been nearly a year since the release of “Renaissance,” Beyoncé’s sixth solo studio album, before the 16 songs from the platinum record manifested onto a stage. After a seven-year hiatus from performing, the Texas native brought forth a commemoration of ballroom culture and individuality with what fans are calling the “tour of the decade.”
On May 10, the singer made her onstage return in Stockholm, the first stop on the Renaissance World Tour. By the time it hit the States, looks were planned, flights were booked, group chats were made, and vacation time was used by the tens of thousands of American fans that packed out stadium after stadium – some rain or shine – to finally hear the album live. The tour wrapped last week in Kansas City on Oct. 1, after 56 nights in 39 cities. Beyoncé walked out to “Dangerously in Love 2” for the final time, and Blue Ivy Carter, the first heir to the Carter throne, once again confidently executed the professional choreography to her mother’s songs “My Power” and “Black Parade.”
By the end of its five-month run, journalists and economists estimated that the tour made $4.5 billion for the U.S. economy. Renaissance World Tour beat Madonna’s 2008 to 2009 Sticky & Sweet Tour as the highest-grossing tour by a solo female artist, earning more than $579 million worldwide. The tour made nearly $400 million less than Elton John’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour, the highest-grossing tour of all time.
In addition to breaking records and generating enormous amounts of revenue, fans point to an upcoming tour film, social media trends, and fashions influenced by the singer’s cultural imprint over the last two years, as the reason her summer Renaissance World Tour is the tour of the decade. Already, the first-day presales for the movie – which hits theaters on Dec. 1, World Aids Day – are estimated to be around $6 million to $7 million.
Fans like Zsana Hoskins and Sawya Brown agree the tour deserves such a title.
Hoskins believes the tour is unlike anything else she’s seen before. “Looking at the numbers…the impact … the fashion [and] the production aspect of it all, I feel like there’s not a lot of contenders for the tour of the decade if we’re gonna include all of that,” she said.
Brown believes the album and radiant energy of the performances are necessary for Black people in the LGBT community. Since 2013, the Human Rights Campaign has documented fatally violent incidents targeting the LGBT community. Per their ongoing report, 19 transgender and gender non-conforming people have lost their lives since the beginning of 2023. Out of those 19 people, at least 11 were Black. In August, O’Shae Sibley, a Black gay dancer, was fatally stabbed at a gas station in New York as he vogued to Beyoncé’s music.
The fact that this tour was a salute to ballroom culture, house music and a celebration of being Black and queer, deeply resonated with Brown.
“The album really spoke to me personally, especially as a Black, queer person, and especially as someone who grew up listening to house music. It was right up my alley,” she said. “The political climate right now, especially for Black, queer people, is real scary.”
From May to October, content regarding the Renaissance Tour swarmed social media. The “Mute Challenge,” where audiences were to stay as silent as possible after Beyoncé sang, “Look around everybody on mute” during the song “Energy,” took platforms by storm.
Beyoncé declared the crowd of her final show in Kansas City, Missouri, as the winners, though they only seemed to mute for about two seconds before cheers rang throughout the venue. A viable contender for the quietest crowd was that of the Aug. 11 show in Atlanta. A five-second hush fell over the stadium that night.
Concertgoers like Hoskins eagerly anticipated participating in the challenge. “It was a moment I was really looking forward to,” she said. She even went to the lengths of warning her mom, who attended the show with her, about the task at hand. “We did pretty good,” said Hoskins, who attended the July 26 performance in Detroit.
Three days later, Brown attended the New Jersey performance–one that was not as triumphant as others.
“Nobody was on mute,” she said. “It was really bad.” She was upset for a few seconds after the fact, but the show’s vigor quickly drew her back in.
An integral layer of the high-end performance was the everchanging, extravagant wardrobes exhibited in all 56 shows across Europe and the United States. Beyoncé and her dancers sported pieces from designers such as Carolina Herrera, Loewe, Telfar, Alexander McQueen, and Rick Owens. Not one look was repeated in the five months of the tour span. Many of the ensembles were custom-made.
During her Hamburg concert, the Houston native artist debuted a custom-made red hooded bodysuit from Carolina Herrera by Creative Director Wes Gordon. Kynadi Hyde, who works in corporate retail operations for the fashion and fragrance brand, was intrigued by the process of curating the look.
“They literally took a piece that we sell in our retail stores and Beyoncé-fied it,” Hyde told 101 Magazine. “It was really interesting… to see how this brand took something from their own core framework and revitalized it to match a little bit more to Beyoncé’s name.”
This was a common trend amongst the designers who made custom looks for the performer, like avant-garde designer Rick Owens. His brand is known for its dark themes, masculine tone and androgyny. At her Dallas show, the superstar appeared in an all-black bodysuit that stayed true to the themes seen across Owens’s brand, while catering to her personal style. “It was still very sexy and revealing, which isn’t something you always [see] from them,” said Hyde, who was in attendance that night.
The “Break My Soul” singer’s influence was apparent by the number of people clad in silver and metallic clothing.
On Aug. 23, her website was updated with a message to her fans to wear their “most fabulous silver fashions” for the remainder of the tour.
“We’ll surround ourselves in a shimmering human disco ball each night,” the message read. Beyoncé’s wish was for everyone in the crowd to mirror each other’s joy.
“This show is about joy. This show is about feeling safe [and] feeling free,” she said during the third performance she held in Atlanta.
Even before the artist made the call to action, fans were still arriving in all-silver attire, like at the Detroit show. According to Hoskins, a majority of the attendees were decked out in shimmering silver clothing.
“Out of all the concerts I’ve been to…I’ve never been to [one] where everybody’s on the same accord,” Hoskins said, beaming proudly. “We knew what we had to do.”
Over 200 celebrities attended the tour–including Sarah Paulson, Pedro Pascal, Quinta Brunson, Issa Rae, and Victoria Monet. Despite their VIP status, they shamelessly showed their excitement to see “Renaissance” live.
Paulson live-streamed the Inglewood concert on Instagram and caught various clips of Pascal shocked and in awe while viewing the performance, smiling from ear to ear. One video showed him yelling, “I’m f- – -ing dying!”
Brunson, Rae, and Monet all went in silver ensembles. The “Jaguar II” singer even paid homage to the outfit Beyoncé wore in her 2006 BET Awards performance, as she sported a metallic crop top and matching miniskirt.
The Renaissance Tour solidified the global star as a force to be reckoned with. She’s been described as “the Queen” for constantly pushing the boundaries of music, performance, and fashion.
“I feel like she’s opening herself up to a new generation,” said Hyde. “She’s one of those icon, legacy, timeless artists.”
Brown describes “Renaissance” as something she’s never heard before. “I was hearing sounds I’d never expected to hear in my entire life. It’s different. It’s creative. [She] created something new from something old throughout the entire album. That’s art.”
In the trailer for the “Renaissance” film, Beyoncé shared that when she performs, she feels the most free. “The goal for this tour was to create a space where everyone is free and no one is judged,” she said in a voiceover.