Dulce María remembers those crazy days back in 2006, when she and the five other members of teen group RBD would finish taping their soap opera at 4 p.m., get whisked from the studios in Mexico City on a helicopter that took them to a private airport, from which they were whisked again to another city. There, they would head directly to an arena performance, then back to their hotel to record some music.
The next day, they would do it all over again.
“It’s like being on a roller coaster that doesn’t stop,” Dulce María says today. “And since it doesn’t stop, you don’t know anything, good or bad, until it does.”
By then, says manager Guillermo Rosas, “Everyone wanted it to be over.”
But it wasn’t. Fifteen years later, five of RBD’s six original members are reunited in what’s shaping up to be one of the most monumental Latin music reunions in history.
On Aug. 25, Dulce María Espinoza, Christian Chávez, Maite Perroni, Anahí Puente and Christopher von Uckermann (the sixth member, Alfonso “Poncho” Herrera, declined to be part of the reunion) kicked off their 54-date Soy Rebelde Tour, which will visit stadiums and arenas in Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and the United States.
So great is the frenzy around the tour that it moved 1.5 million tickets after only 24 hours on sale, according to Live Nation, tying the number sold across 150 reported shows between Dec. 2, 2005, and Dec. 21, 2008.
“I have to say, it’s exceeded my expectations: It’s gargantuan,” says Live Nation senior vp of global touring Hans Schafer.
In addition, in August, the group released “Cerquita de Ti,” its first new song in 15 years; an album is in the works; and new dates for 2024 will soon be announced.
Which all beg the question, why didn’t a reunion come sooner?
It’s All In The Name
At the center of it all are the rights to RBD, its name, image and even its music. Anahí, Dulce María, Christian, Maite and Christopher (they go publicly by their first names) all joined the cast of Mexican soap opera Rebelde back in 2004, when they were teenagers.
Rebelde (Rebel) told the adventures of a group of students at an elite musical school who launch their own band, RBD, the acronym a play on the series name. The soap was produced by Mexican giant Televisa, who in turn licensed the format from Argentine producer Chris Morena, who created it, and global distributor and producer Dori Media., who helped develop it.
The original format, Rebelde Way, was produced in Argentina and spawned the band Erreway.
Both were successful, but Rebelde and RBD far outpaced them. In its short career, the group landed three albums at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Latin Albums chart, and a No. 15 on the Billboard 200. Of its 10 entries on Hot Latin Songs, five were top 10s, and “Ser o Parecer” topped the chart.
The success meant huge personal sacrifice and little financial gain for its young members. They were under contract with Televisa and all their rights –including recordings, touring and merchandising—were tied to those contracts, which gave them a salary and no royalties.
When Rosas, their manager today, came into the picture in 2006 as a young concert promoter, there was little he could do about that. He saw RBD’s potential as a touring act abroad –their first international show sold 70,000 at the Los Angeles Coliseum in March of 2006– and paid Televisa (who also controlled touring in Mexico through promoter Ocesa) a hefty fee for the rights to tour outside Mexico. He did not have individual contracts with any of the members.
But when Rebelde as a series ended and its stars parted ways, Rosas stayed in contact with them, managing the careers of Anahí and Christian, and also working closely with von Uckermann. The thought of bringing RBD together was always in the back of his mind, and he would often discuss it with his friend Hans Schafer, another young concert promoter.
A Zoom And A Comeback
Some seven years ago, says Rosas, he started speaking to the members about reuniting. At that point, they all showed interest, but the rights were a mess, their personal lives had taken different paths, and RBD’s music wasn’t even available on streaming platforms.
All of RBD’s music had been recorded under EMI Music, which Universal Music Group bought in 2012. However, the license for the name was not renewed, so the music was never available to stream.
Things took a turn when Rosas, through his current company, The Sixth House, launched a joint venture with Universal Music Latin Entertainment.
“I was no longer just the manager of the RBD project, but someone who could speak with more authority,” he says.
Finally, on Sept. 4, 2020, RBD’s music became available on streaming platforms for the first time. Spurred by that occasion and the onset of the pandemic, the group got together on a Zoom “to figure out what we could do to give something to fans. Maybe a song. Something very genuine,” says Dulce María.
That conversation reignited the desire to reunite, but this time, the business model was clear: The five members and Rosas would be equal partners in the new joint venture. Royalties would still need to be paid to the original rights holders for use of the RBD name, but beyond that, all new revenue, including for music, would be split between Rosas and RBD.
Once a tour became a reality, Rosas went to Shafer, who was now at Live Nation. Because RBD was the first Latin act to use Ticketmaster’s Registered Fan feature, which gives fans an opportunity to register in advance to purchase tickets, the tour’s potential became immediately clear.
“I’m willing to bet this will be the most successful Latin tour this year in terms of gross and tickets sold,” Schafer predicts. “They are beating records in multiple territories in a way no other act has ever done. It’s spectacular.”
The importance of the moment is not lost on the group.
In mid August, at the Galen Center in Los Angeles during a break in the act’s dress rehearsal, we sat down with Anahí, Dulce María, Christian, Maite and Christopher for their first in-person interview as RBD in 15 years. They were dressed in one of their tour outfits: all sparkly, shimmery sequins and shoulder pads, a throwback to the 2000s and the unabashed, in-your-face positivity that was, and is, RBD.
“All five of us have very different personalities, and with the years, we’ve learned to embrace our differences. But in the end, it’s when we come back together that this grows and this magic explodes,” says Maite. “The key is, back then, we came together as the result of an audition; this time, it’s something we chose to do.”
It has been 15 years. Are you nervous?
Christian: Truth is, we’ve gone through all the emotions. From the moment rehearsals began, we went through saying, “Ay, no, we can’t sing and dance at the same time anymore.” We stopped doing it so long that it was hard at first. And truth is, we have completely different personalities. So this time, we’re doing it according to our standards and what we like to do. It’s a beautiful way to return to this project that gave so much to all of us, but from a position of maturity, much more life experience and far more aware of what we want to show fans.
Many people who are going to see the show saw you 15 years ago. What significant differences will they see?
Christopher: The entire creative presentation is an upgrade in every sense. We’re part of all the new songs. We have dancers. We never had dancers in the past, so the show has grown a lot. Everything is more meticulous, and it’s ours. People will see that organic part of RBD, but in a more elevated way.
What is the personal stamp of each of you?
Maite: We all have very different personalities, like Christian said, and you see it onstage. But the magic happens when we’re together. We’ve all come together in the creative process, the design, everything we share here. What is really different is, we came together before through an audition. This time, we’ve chosen to do so.
RBD grew explosively back in the day. At what point did you realize how big it had become?
Dulce María: There were two moments for me. We performed at el Zócalo in Mexico City, and people went crazy. I remember they had to take us out of there in ambulances and police cars. That’s when it really dawned on us, because we were taping the series from Monday to Saturday, and we never left the studios. That day, we realized something big was happening. And the second moment, internationally, was when we played in Colombia, in Bogotá, which was a crazy thing with over 50,000 people. And then Brazil, the first place we went to where people spoke another language, and it was total euphoria. Well, there were so many moments! Even this moment, right now, still surprises us.
Your current tour tickets sold at an extraordinary pace. I imagine you were anxious beforehand?
Anahí: Truth is, everything has surprised us. I think the most beautiful thing we can tell you is, the five of us began this from our hearts, with our souls set on coming back together, and we really didn’t know what would happen. We didn’t know if we’d sell 10 tickets or 20 or the millions that, thanks to all of you, are now this tour. And I think when you do things like this, thinking of nothing else but the absolute love we have about being together, that’s when things flow. We’re here because of the love we have for what we were and what we are together. As Maite said, the magic only happens when we’re together. I get chills just saying it: We’re together again. Our souls are shining together again.
And as Maité said, you came together before through an audition. Now it’s a choice. How did it happen?
Anahí: We put our whole love and enthusiasm into making it happen. But things would get complicated. The pandemic, then when we had that Zoom, Dul was about to give birth to her beautiful daughter, María Paula, whom I adore. Everyone knows I had more or less retired; I had been away from entertainment. Mai got married. And suddenly, things began to happen, and they began to flow in a way we couldn’t have planned. It seemed impossible, as we say in our new single.
I was told conversations began in earnest seven years ago, pre-pandemic.
Christian: There were several tries. But during the pandemic was when we really thought, “What can we give back to people? How can we bring some happiness, some solace?” And that’s when we really sat down to talk about it.
Poncho isn’t part of the group, but RBD works as a quintet.
Christian: We’ve realized RBD is bigger than its members. That’s what makes it such a magnetic force. We used to think, “RBD doesn’t exist without its members.” And the truth is, RBD …
Anahí: … is RBD.
Christian: Obviously, we love Poncho, and we wish him the best and we thank him for always sending us good vibes when they ask him about us. But the truth is, at this stage, we’re more focused on giving our all to RBD. It’s as if we were Charlie’s Angeles and Charlie is RBD.
Dulce María: I also think it’s a cycle. We’re mothers now. We’re putting in a lot, a lot of effort and sacrifice that’s different from what we did before. But we’re here for love and to close a circle with our fans and with ourselves. In the end, RBD is eternal. And as we’ve always said, Rebelde will exist until the last rebel heart stops beating.
As a mother, I love that you’re moms and you’re on tour and you’re bringing the family with you. I understand there’s a whole daycare traveling with you.
Anahí: Totally. There’s a playroom in our dressing rooms because we’re here with our R-babies. Obviously, our children are the most important thing for the three of us, and we’re not complete without them. I have a little bit of a bigger problem, so to speak, because mine are already in school. Manuel, my son, is 6, and he can’t miss much school. Thank God I have an amazing husband, a superdad who’s coming and going on the weekends so I can spend time with my children. Dul’s María Paula is still small, and Lía is only 2 months old, so they can spend more time here. But we’re having a dressing room just for them, a playroom where they can play and have a great time.
Maite, you have a crib in your dressing room?
Maite: Yes. Truth be told, it’s beautiful to live this stage, but it’s hard. It’s challenging. With Lía, the second I finish here, I’ll run to her, and when I arrive, I don’t let go for a second, and she’s the most important thing in my life. Knowing she’s well taken care of allows me to enjoy this moment, which is one of the best experiences, if not the best, we’ve lived and shared.
Anahí: (Laughs, looks at Christian.) And our uncles who put up with my children screaming!
In RBD 1.0, you were told what to do, and you’ve said you had to sacrifice a lot in terms of personal life. Did you set your own conditions this time?
Maite: The thing is, the way we built this new stage, we didn’t have to set terms. We had to go together, hand in hand, to build what was best for all of us.
It must feel so different. When RBD first became popular, I think none of us realized how tough it was for you. You had a very harsh contract. Do you ever look back and think, “That was hard”?
Anahí: You have to see it from the stance of gratitude. Everything we lived brings us to this point, where we can come together as the owners of our project. If we hadn’t gone through that, we wouldn’t be here. We’re here with hearts that healed, that went through a lot, and what we haven’t healed, we will heal together, holding hands.
Businesswise, what was the biggest lesson you learned?
Christian: Not to take things personally. This is a career and a business, and sometimes things work and sometimes they don’t. And when you work with teenagers, you’re working with insecurities. It’s not the same to be famous once you’re older. And here, we had three child stars: Christopher, Anahí and Dulce started performing when they were 5. It’s a totally different life.
Christopher, you had that experience. But even so, it must have been tough, for example, to realize you weren’t getting royalties for merchandise.
Christopher: It’s a process a lot of artists live — more than people realize, because artists create. Now we’re the ones creating this, we’re partners. And when you have that, you are really free to create in all areas. Everything we went through helped us get to this. In my case, after working since I was a child, it’s been a true evolution to say: “What do I want to tell the world? And to ensure that my product is not banal, but actually brings something to fans?”
Dulce María: At that time, we weren’t thinking about that. We worked for five years as RBD, and it’s like being on a roller coaster that doesn’t stop. And since it doesn’t stop, you don’t know anything, good or bad, until it does, and you say: “Ah! This happened. And this, and this,” and you start to process. And it was so hard. That is probably why we always said a reunion wasn’t possible. And in my case, I reached a point where I said no. I lived so long like this, made so many sacrifices. You leave your family behind, you’re far from so many things because this is a very demanding career. I was afraid to go back because it takes you away from your safe place, your home, your family. Thank God we’re together again, and it’s also like being with a family. With siblings who love and support each other.
Can you really do whatever you want now?
Dulce María: We all have a different story to tell and inspire. It’s beautiful to be part of the songwriting. Songs like “Cerquita de Ti,” which Christopher wrote with other composers, are beautiful, for example. We want to say things, not only in the songs, but during the show and on the screens.
Maite: They’re different stages, and it’s important to underline that back then, we were kids with dreams and RBD became the platform to make them a reality. Also, speaking about our old songs has made us realize that 20 years later, it’s still relevant to sing about love. Pop hasn’t died. Perhaps there was no one to sing it.
I’ve always thought one of the secrets to RBD’s success is you always sang about positive, affirming things.
Anahí: It’s always been our flag. Like Dulce said, unity, love, believing in your dreams, never stopping, saving ourselves — because in a way, together we’ve saved our hearts in moments we’ve been a little broken.
Let’s talk fashion on this tour. What were you going for?
Christian: We each wanted to represent ourselves. I went through the process of my sexuality, and I hadn’t had the opportunity to fully be myself onstage. There had always been that fear or insecurity of whether I should wear this or not. And it’s beautiful to me and to that young Christian who sometimes wanted to wear or try on something more feminine and couldn’t because he was told it was wrong or he would lose fans. It’s like celebrating myself and celebrating that child and telling him: “Go, put on that crop top if you want. Wear makeup if you want.” It’s been like a game. At 40 years old, I feel like I’m 15.
Anahí: I’m really into nostalgia. There’s an outfit change called Retro Girls where we put on those iconic outfits that remind us of so many things, and we wanted to re-create them. Definitely my favorite moment is Rebelde [the iconic RBD school uniform of white shirt, red jacket and short skirt]. When I put on my uniform again, it brought me to tears.
Christopher: In my case, I went for a ’70s look. And I also love the ’60s and the ’80s. And I wear sneakers because I think like an athlete onstage.
Dulce María: For a while, we’ve been looking for a more unified look that respects our essence and style. Before, we would wear whatever we wanted, and that’s beautiful because it was us, but sometimes it felt like we were all going to a different party. Now it’s about respecting the past, but each of us in their own style. For example, I’m a mom, I’m older, but I still want to give the best of myself. I dyed my hair red again. It’s like embracing the past but integrating it into today. I’m not only Roberta [her Rebelde character]. I’m Dulce María with all those Roberta traits. I’m sensitive, romantic, I’m married, I have a baby, I’m a family girl and I miss my family, I’m vulnerable.
You’re releasing new music, and you’re working on an album. But your music wasn’t on streaming platforms for over a decade. What did it mean to hear it for the first time in 2020?
Christian: I think it was the tipping point that tugged at our hearts. Since we didn’t have the music before, when they told us it would be available and asked us to film short videos to invite people to listen, that activated Rebelde fever in September 2020.
The world has changed. Now we talk openly about inclusion, rights, body positivity. Topics that weren’t touched even five years ago, but topics that you touched on often in the past. How does it feel to see those conversations normalized?
Maite: It’s very inspiring. Even though we shared those messages back then, it’s wonderful to see the conversation expand and that 20 years later, it’s an obligation and a responsibility to know what you say, to be aware of how you communicate and what you want to express and how you want to live in this world.
Dulce María: And be yourself. We were maybe ahead of our time. Christian was one of the first Latin entertainers, if not the first, to speak openly about sexuality. And it’s gratifying to see that today we can truly be who we are and say, “It’s OK.”
Looking back, very few bands transcend TV shows. The Monkees in the ’60s are one of the few that come to mind. How does it feel to be in such good company?
Maite: RBD also accomplished something that’s not that common. It came from such a specific place, a youth soap opera, and it suddenly began to break paradigms within the music industry, and it began to occupy a truly important space. It wasn’t easy at first because there was a lot of judgment around a TV project with young people. Many of our singer, songwriter, producer colleagues saw us as a plastic product. But even then, RBD achieved unique things, RBD broke records, we touched people’s hearts, and we sent a positive message. We achieved things that, today, 20 years later, allow us to be here. It sounds like bragging, but we have to state it proudly because it wasn’t easy. RBD is something unique, and today, we’re part of the industry and we are not just the most important Mexican group: We’re the most important Latin group. That’s RBD.
Maite, Christian and Christopher will discuss their tour and reunion Wednesday, October 4 at Billboard’s Latin Music Week, taking place Oct. 2-6 in Miami. Register here.
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