The world of disc jockeys has up until now been very male-dominated, though female DJs have become more common in recent years as the electronic dance music scene has invaded the charts the world over.
Previously, females were only the rare exceptions to be seen ‘behind the decks’, and “relegated” to being dancers and in the crowd at clubs, venues and festivals presenting House and Techno and similar styles of dance music.
The lack of of female DJ’s at clubs in Sweden was the starting point DJ Linda Thomsgard to start a DJ course. She kept on hearing that there were no good female DJ’s for the clubs to book and decided to do something about this notion that there weren’t any none and to improve the supply.
This was also the start of the he non-profit organisation ‘Equalisters’ that she founded in year 2010.
“About as many guys as girls visiting clubs today, but when it comes to who chooses the music played is not as well balanced. Because music is such an important part of the experience at the club, it is important that power over the DJ booth is distributed more equally,” writes Svenska Institet/Swedish Institute (SI.)
And the initiative to train up female DJ entertainers has been conceptualised into an international tour, in collaboration with the SI., as ‘Femme-Beat DJ School’, which on 18-19 April visited Hanoi in Vietnam.
The DJ school targeted Vietnamese women interested in music and in building a network of female professionals.
“We don’t require any prior knowledge of DJ-ing, what we want is that you are driven to learn and to help building the network. You have to be over 20 years old to participate.”
The training was conducted by Swedish lecturer Sanna Beer and the two DJs Maja Aspero Lind and Casandra Cornelio.
Participants enjoyed lectures, practicing as well as performing before a live audience at Hanoi Rock City.
Equalisters (Rättviseförmedlingen in Swedish) is aiming to correct the imbalances of representation in the field of media, culture and business, together with the Swedish Institute. The aim of Femme-Beat DJ School is to encourage more women to become DJs – offering a practical course that provides the professional tools needed in order to become established, as well as creating connections and networking opportunities in the music industry.
It all started with a fanpage on Facebook where female DJs could register and resulted right away in a list of over 200 names that Linda Thomsgard later handed over to the clubs.
The project became a huge success grew into a 70,000-strong network for female music professionals.
“Equalisters work as a social service, utilizing the powerful dynamics of crowdsourcing to work towards a more democratic, fair, and equal society. The organisation has successfully helped close to a thousand companies, organisations and media to change and work in a more equal and inclusive manner.’’
“Sweden is known for being one of the most equal countries in the world – however Swedish news media struggles to portray society as a whole. There is an imbalance in representation in media, culture and business, where women and minorities often are excluded.”
“We believe that when it comes to including competent women and people from other underrepresented groups, excuses that claim that ‘there just weren’t any’, is no longer good enough.”
“To prove our point and contribute to a more equal society, we provide a service that generates positive, proactive, and concrete recommendations, compiled in long lists of people who can balance up inequalities of representation in any given context.”
By spreading the DJ concept and finding role models around the world the projects aims to build long-lasting networks based on the saying “If you can see it, you can be it” which is exactly what Femme Beat is all about – helping young women get closer to the arenas they want to operate on. The project is a collaboration between the Swedish Institute, Equalisters and the Swedish embassies around the world.
In 2014 workshops were held in Istanbul and London. In addition to Vietnam some additional cities will be visited during 2015.