Being a Female DJ

Article originally written for Bad Feminist

Here is the trailer for a film that makes The Human Centipede look like Citizen Kane, ‘DJ Girl’.

From what I gather, the synopsis is thus; party girl fancies hot DJ, he’s not interested. To get his attention she decides to become a DJ because to be one ‘is like so hot right now’. He becomes her Mr Miyagi and teaches her the ways of the discotheque jockey. She blags a gig, rocks the house, hot DJ snogs her, wins the DMC World DJ Championships by swishing her hair on the vinyl and flipping it onto the deck before stunning the crowd by scratching with her nipples. The last part may not be true.

If only being a DJ, particularly a female one was so easy.

Being a lady DJ can be a double edged blade. You may get a booking because of your gender, a female name stands out on a line-up and it’s unusual. But on the flip side, you can be ignored and looked over because many presume girls don’t know anything about music. In a male
dominated industry, female DJs are still very much a novelty especially when you look at the largely Russian phenomenon of topless DJs. A sexist yet genius concept where for one fee, you get hot tits dancing to a pre mix CD, pretending to fiddle with the cross fader.

After you’ve hustled and start getting gigs, you get patronising nerds who stand, arms folded analysing and sneering, waiting for you to make a bum mix. Then there are the old school vinyl die hards who would prefer if women would stay well away from the decks (I once had a man
shout at me for not using vinyl. It is a superior format but its heavy, expensive and easily damaged so I only savour a few classics) and on the odd occasion, you might have hassle getting into your own gig or onto the decks from misogynist bouncers who think you’re on the

People can be rude and demand you play that song again / Lady Gaga /Bavarian baseline. I wonder how these people would react if a stranger entered their work place and ordered them to do something. Despite the supposed glamorous nature, DJing is a job and the aim is to entertain a room of revellers, not one individual (my latest response to these types is “I am not a jukebox”).

You’ve also got to compete with the ‘celebrity’ or instant DJ. In the age of technology and mp3 downloading, anyone can profess to be one. You don’t have to plough through hours of crap and suffer the snobbery of record shop staff, you can sit in the comfort of your underpants, download everything from the latest hip music blog, burn to CD (or laptop for the lazy) and play to a rapturous dance floor. Now this may work a few times but eventually the instant DJ types who are in it for the glory soon filter away because they know jack about music, how to cook a floor and haven’t got the patience to learn about and source it.

There’s something quite fierce about female producers and DJs, much like any woman who does a job that is predominately done by men and I’d like to see more of us out there. I don’t expect to see more female DJs being booked just because they are the minority but I’d like to see them smash through their own glass ceiling and compete with the boys on even terms. But then again,
how can we be expected to be taken seriously when there are plenty of DJanes (a hideous term) who abuse their feminine wiles by posing in headphones and bikinis or are happy to shag a promoter to get a gig?

As for DJ Girl and others like her, if you have a passion for music, willing to work hard, face rejection and misogyny, then go for it lady and get out there, otherwise please support your sisters from the dance floor.