Man approaches decks. “Alright love,” he says. Although my heart sinks, I smile politely and say hello back, hoping he’s not going to try and chat me up. Yawn. Especially as he looks like a cross between Phil Mitchell and Ronnie Corbett. “Nice tunes,” he continues, peering over the CDJs, trying to sneak a peek at what I’m playing. Deep breaths, "here we go…" I mutter under my breath. “So...” he says, his eyebrows raising, inquisitively, “how do you know about this music, exactly?” Wow, what a neanderthal twat. Yes, it is possible that women have excellent music knowledge, and can actually mix tunes together.
Who knew? Yes, we know who Beyond the Wizard's Sleeve is and Leo Zero. We might have even heard of Psychemagik. My first impulse was to nut him square between the eyes (would've preferred the bollocks but the console was in the way) but I opted to be sensible and look busy until he sidled off back to his beer-swigging mates.
The female DJ. A decade ago we were rarities, but now, although still in the minority, there’s a throng of talented women out there playing a variety of genres — in clubs, pubs and on the radio. It really is no big deal, and frankly no issue should be made of it. But, there is, unbelievably, still an unhealthy, sexist attitude towards women in the DJ game.
As this is an anonymous column, no names can be named. But what I can tell you is that there are a multitude of stories from my female colleagues about not only how they are talked to by punters, but how they are treated by club staff and colleagues. I’ve heard it all, and it’s soul-destroyingly depressing that this type of behaviour still exists. From derogatory comments about one’s looks being hurled across the decks by punters — one friend said someone recently commented on her “fat arse” — through to patronising sound engineers assuming that if you have a vagina you are unable to work the mixer, it's also sadly common that women are kept waiting and have their slots nudged back due to deck-hogging DJ superheroes.
Have another line of gak, mate, and make sure you get your disco wank in, until you feel ready to pass over the reins. Pathetic. I also heard a disturbing story about a well-known ‘artist’ who called up a mate to ask her for a "meeting" to discuss her being his tour DJ, when really his agenda was to get her loaded up on coke and get her in the sack. He didn’t.
I may sound overly agitated about the DJ gender issue, currently, but with good reason. I have been DJing over the last 10 years, more now than ever before, and it still amazes me that some blokes still view us in this way. This attitude towards us is not only unacceptable, but is also indicative of a broader societal issue, that gender equality, across all platforms, is still in imbalance.
Over the last few months I've not only had idiots quizzing me on how I have credible music knowledge, I’ve also had someone telling me, over the decks, that even though I own and play the tracks, I don’t actually know anything about the tunes — after boring me senseless about his very valuable rare groove collection. I’ve also had someone lean over the CDJs and spin the wheel back mid-set (I was also recording said set, which made me want to smash the fucker’s face in). And last night I had a double hitter of sexist irritation: some prick shouted at me in an aggressive manner to stop texting whilst I was DJing, and two guys I was supposed to be playing back-to-back with showed up tune-less and assumed it would be OK to raid my CD collection.
It wasn’t. My night was ruined by watching these guys mess up my CDs whilst getting all the glory, getting blokey back-slapping feedback from their fellow species such as “sick tune mate!” These were the tunes that I spent hours selecting and sourcing, which they were passing off as their own. These critiques and behaviours would’ve never happened if I were a man.
However, despite these tales of male misbehaviour, there have been plenty of men — and women — who’ve been very complimentary; asking me for my card to book me, requested a mix, or who’ve simply wanted to follow me on Twitter. I also have male friends I DJ with who are always complimentary and slightly in awe of my technical skills (well, compared to them, that is) who are the first to recommend me — based on my taste and ability, and not on my gender. Hopefully, in time, this respectful — normal — attitude will nuke out that unpleasant prejudicial odour that is still sadly hanging about.