This post is also available in: German
The Psytrance scene loves to present itself as extremely progressive and forward-thinking. However, if you look at the average festival or party program you might notice that it’s not that different from the society of everyday life after all: Female DJs and live acts are still very underrepresented. At some afterhours you can hear a controversial theory:
„The only reasons why promoters book female DJs is to have something for the boys to look at.“
DJ Gaby (Slovenia)
Beautiful women behind the decks can rock the floor pretty well and know what they are doing, they are not just booked for their looks.
“This is of course a very narrow way to look at it… although I can‘t exclude 100% of all organisers worldwide. For me I must say I am a too proud of a woman to sell myself just through my look. But again, I can‘t speak for all Djanes out there. If they can cope with such a path… it´s their free choice. My path started quite early, 25 years ago. Female Djs were still quite rare to be found. And I remember actually just the opposite, that being a rare female Djane I got even more under the pressure of everyone. I had to prove myself and my work, even more than the guys had to back then. As mentioned before, I am a strong personality and worked hard to get there where I am now – and surely nothing fell into my lap, everything spoke through my work. Which I am surely happy about. I also had some experiences where somehow I might have rocked the floor a bit more one night, and the male DJ colleagues turned away instead of enjoying the moment with me or gratulate me. But whatever. I played a few times just with females, and I enjoyed that a lot… We were in good, sisterly contact and the night went down smooth with good vibes. Beautiful women behind the decks can rock the floor pretty well and know what they are doing, they are not just booked for their looks.”
“6 THINGS DOUCHEBAGS SAY TO FEMALE DJ‘s”
“I’ll book you. People love girl DJs!”
Sometimes you’ll encounter male promoters who really don’t care what you sound like, or even what you look like. They think of you as a rare commodity and just getting booked for having boobs. And mainly the more the better („four boobs are better than two“), which means they‘ll prefer to book female DJ‘s who work as a duo or group!
This one is disgusting for obvious reasons. But it‘s also funny, because in most DJ booths you stand behind a table, so the crowd can‘t really see what you‘re (not) wearing anyway.
“I’m putting together a Ladies Night. Wanna play?”
When you’re just starting out, you can get away with this as an opportunity to showcase your work. But if you’ve been playing for some years, It’s the utmost of insults. Is a female DJ not good enough to play with the boys or maybe all other nights are „Boys Night“…
“You‘re one of my top three favourite female DJs“
Oh cool, but why not one of the favourite DJs over all?
“Did your boyfriend pre-mix a cd for you/give you those tunes?”
Only guys can have mixing skills or what? And when a lady dips into the depths of underground music, some nerdy dude must have been helping her to put together the set list.
“Here, let me show you how to set up the mixer.”
Ridiculously patronizing, especially when you‘ve already been booked to play the show.
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Kimie (Hamburg / Germany)
“Ever since I started making music I was surrounded by men, and in a way I always had to hold my ground in this position, so I actually don’t like being labelled as a “DJane”. I see myself as a DJ, and I define myself through performance and output. And, even more, through the emotions that develop between me and the people who dance to my set – it’s simple as that. Even if being a woman is your wildcard sometimes, it’s the best moments when you show up at that party and prove yourself to be louder and more assertive than some of the male colleagues – when you rock so hard that everyone wants to book you again. At the end of the day it’s the people who dance to your set. I know that some of my male colleagues say it’s just because I’m a woman that I’m being booked to big parties and festivals, but I don’t really care about that – I know my skills. Okay, you have to be kind of thick-skinned as a female DJ, I think it’s much harder for us to make it on a lineup. It would be great if more women start DJing, so it’s no longer an exception to spot a female name on a party lineup.”
DJ Melburn (Hamburg / Germany)
“So male colleagues are booked just for us girls, or what? Bullshit! I think at the end of the day the only thing that matters is the energy you exchange with the dance floor, and it really doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman! On the other hand, I often got the feedback that we girls put more emotions into our sets… And when I’m on the floor myself I often notice that among my female colleagues there are somewhat fewer posers than among men… smile… Hands down, the most important thing is that the dance floor gets going, and you can’t be everybody’s darling!”
DJoanna (Waldfrieden / Germany)
“There’s definitely some bookers who book female DJs just because they are women. However, Psytrance parties are all about music and dancing, not about flirting and sex. In this environment it’s not enough just to look cute – and that’s why no successful female act can be reduced to her feminine looks. I don’t experience it like that. Okay, it has happened that somebody wanted to explain to me how to use a mixer just before I started, or that the front row was busy just staring at me or taking pictures, but luckily that’s not very common and if it happens once in awhile, it’s usually not in Europe. In my experience the only real difference between female and male acts is their number. But just because of that we don’t receive better and worse treatment than men.”
Psibindi (Psysisters / UK)
„It‘s a provocative statement. You could go further to intimate that female promoters only book male DJs for eye candy behind the decks! In my 10 year DJ career, I‘ve worked with good promoters who have booked me solely for my music. I established Psy-Sisters collective 5 years ago with a group of DJ friends. We have been proactive in supporting female DJs, as at the time, there were fewer woman DJs and producers. By providing a promotional platform, more woman have been inspired and found the confidence to step up to the decks.
Woman shouldn‘t coerce promoters to book them because „they are female“. This is not why collectives like Psy-Sisters were formed and this attitude has never been encouraged. Being booked on the merit of your talent is far more gratifying than anything else. I owe a great deal to my male friends who have taught me how to DJ and produce music. I believe promoters just want quality music and artists at their events, which echoes what the crowd on the dance floor want.“
Alpha (interzone.pa / Germany, artist, party organizer…)
In 2000 I organised the “Female Spring Awakening” in a popular location in Hamburg, a party with only females on the lineup, for instance Miranda from Sweden, who was very popular back then, U.F.ORIA, Constanze Journey, Sally Doolally, Miss Visitor and even with an alternative floor where Masha, La Niña & AnneJoy played. It was quite a success, both musically and commercially. A real pain in the ass where some male party goers who played macho and tried to be the coolest chauvinist pigs in the hood. The women didn’t give a shit and actually kicked their asses, or should I say balls, on the dance floor, e.g. Miranda really pulled all the stops and delivered some fairly uptempo music.
To establish a political / sociological context, these events were always held around March 8, the international woman’s day. Even today I have the impression that few if any men realized that. After two years of constant music quality, but constantly decreasing visitor numbers I took a break. At the same time I noticed that some other party promoters organised so-called “Amazone” parties. Some of them were held in the home towns of “my” woman (inspiration), and sometimes as an extra floor that was meant to reflect the zeitgeist. Pretty much like the “Dark floors” at parties today. In other words, they tried to take commercial advantage of the idea. A bit dodgy. All of it.
During the Jalanda parties in Bremen (2004-2006) we brought back the concept, but only with 50% female DJs. We had great women like Gaby (Slovenia), Alice-D, D-Way, DJoanna, Tante Lotte playing and the party goers loved them. Some weeks later there was a rather big party in Hamburg that had two floors, called “„Amazone – The International Comeback”. There were artists like Orsi (Hungary), Miss Nic, Morgana, Gutemine, Rakete, Miss Napalm, Anais (Brasilien) and many others, the decoration came from the female crew The Frogz (UK, Spain), and it turned out to be a total flop. What have we learned? Nothing. It’s not only the Female Revolution that is long overdue – and that is not happening. Not until now.