Diversifying Dance Music

The recent backlash over Nina Kraviz’s cornrows and track ‘Ghetto Kraviz’ has thrown the issue of cultural appropriation and discrimination in dance music back into popular discussion. People all over the internet, notably Frankie Decaiza Hutchinson (co-founder of New York-based organisation Discwoman), have used this example to identify wider problems of representation and the continuing need for intersectionality in the scene. With this in mind, our writers have curated a list of some of the finest DJ collectives from Leeds to New Delhi who keep this premise at the very centre of their work. 

Discwoman (New York)

Formed in 2014, Discwoman is one of the pioneering groups dismantling the white, cis-man-heavy electronic music scene. As a collective and a talent agency, Discwoman brings female, non-binary and LGBTQ+ DJs to the forefront. The group has a formidable presence across the globe, with bookings all over, from China to South Africa. Last year, the group did a takeover at Leeds’ very own Wire, with Ciel, Volvox and SHYBOI on the bill. They’re intersectional, they’re fierce, and they’re not stopping for anyone.

Safi Bugel

Rhythm Sister (London/Bristol)

Through social media, parties and workshops, Rhythm Sister are carving a much-needed space for ‘female-identifying and genderqueer artists’ in the dance music scene. The DJ collective is based in London and Bristol, but their network reaches further online; they provide a platform for people all over to ask questions to, learn from and interact with others in a safe environment. With a different host for each of their monthly shows at Balamii Radio, Rhythm Sister is a great source for finding exciting new selectors across the spectrum.

Safi Bugel

Slut Drop (Leeds)

A DIY Leeds collective focusing on alternative dance music, SLUT DROP is founded on the basis of inclusivity. Focused on promoting and booking primarily female, non-binary, LGBT and BAME creatives, the night is rooted in its rawness and unpredictability, with genres fluctuating from hip-hop, grime and garage, to electro, experimental, and everything inbetween. Having previously hosted open decks workshops to encourage more women to DJ, to recently teaming up with Equaliser at Wire for an evening of gradually increased BPM, SLUT DROP is special in the way it celebrates and harbours homegrown talent, remaining an eclectic favourite in the Leeds scene.

Jessa Kidner

All Hands on Deck (Manchester)

You say DJ, I hear ‘buzzcut Surrey boy who used his loan to buy decks’, but new Manchester-born All Hands On Deck is a gloriously progressive collective that runs open decks nights for women, non-binary and trans people. From parties to workshops, the initiative founded by four female-identifying selectors is a safe and inclusive social space that allows anyone to try their hands at mixing and DJing in a “low pressure” environment. Creating a representative and diverse space within the city is one of the core values this feminist ensemble pride themselves on, and they’ve already collaborated with local DJs at festivals and hosted an All Hands On Deck x Equaliser collaboration show on Limbo Radio. In just over a year, this collective has taken great strides in transforming the representation and diversity of the DJ community here up north. 

Andrea Loftus 

Coven Code (New Delhi)

The night life in Delhi is known for its conservatism, with early closing times and discriminatory entry policies. Enter Coven Code: the Indian girl gang who are changing that, one DJ set at a time. Comprised of around 19 female-identifying people, the collective aims to create a safe and inclusive club culture, designed with women in mind. Like their Leeds-based sister collectives, Coven Code operate on a zero tolerance policy which aims to sift out any inappropriate behaviour on the dancefloor. With their militant approach to reforming New Delhi’s clubs, Coven Code are a force to be reckoned with. 

Facebook: @coven.code

Safi Bugel

ATTAGIRL (Singapore)

Since 2013, ATTAGIRL have been building a network of female musicians, artists and DJs in Singapore. With a focus on experimentation and the left-field, ATTAGIRL provide an important space for the city’s DJs. Their focus is local, but their reach is worldwide: they champion beatmakers from the UK and America, and completed a tour in India in 2017, for example. Community is at the heart of ATTAGIRL’s work, with all proceeds going towards supporting charities. 

Facebook: @attagirlparty

Safi Bugel

Siren (London)

Siren are a collective that aims to support all those underrepresented in London’s techno scene. Alongside their monthly NTS Radio slot, Siren hosts music events and workshops, and they’ve even got the support of the Southbank Centre under their belt. However, their activism goes beyond these sessions, as they also publish zines and operate a strong social media presence. Their organisation, then, supports not just those working the decks, but also the visual artists, graphic designers and writers behind the scenes. 

Safi Bugel

Equaliser (Leeds/Beijing)

Equaliser is a DJ collective that creates a space for all, whether that’s on the dancefloor or behind the decks. The Leeds-based community opens the music scene for women, non-binary and transgender people, appreciating open-mindedness and inclusivity in the club. As they host regular workshops and parties, Equaliser provides an intimate and safe space for those who are underrepresented in the DJ scene. They allow non-cis males to present their own work or to get a feel for the diverse scene that Equaliser cultivates. Challenging the norms of dominant perceptions of the DJ industry, the collective’s aim is to include as many people as possible within their diverse music environment, ultimately providing a happy and equal space for those who love a good party. Happy 2nd Birthday Equaliser! 

Demi Olutunmogun

Header Image from Hyponik