Despite the senate failing to vote into law equal pay for equal work last week, the weekend marked the celebratory launch of Discwoman, a two day festival-style event highlighting the wealth of female talent within the techno and dance DJ community. Hosted at Bossa Nova Civic Club, Discwoman aims to rebrand the “Discman” image to be more inclusive of who is making us dance these days. The boy’s club atmosphere in the techno scene often makes it difficult for women to get booked at established venues.
Dreamt up by women, produced by women, and performed by women, Discwoman was founded by Emma Olson, who DJs under the name Umfang, Frankie Decaiza Hutchinson, and Christine Tran of creative agency Witches of Bushwick. The two-day event included sets by twelve of New York’s renowned female DJs: Lauren Flax, Shannon Funchess, Amber Valentine, Lauren Dillard, Volvox, Kim Anh, Ana Lola Roman, Beta Librae, Ciarra Black, Ariele Max, Bonnie Danger, and Hannah Daly. And while some people eye roll at “all female” anything, proceeds from the bar went towards the Sadie Nash Leadership Project, a non-profit that supports leadership and activism in young women throughout New York.
On Friday night, the mood was exuberant, with a crowd that seemed evenly mixed between both genders. I got there early to catch my favorite turn-up turntable-ist, Hannah Daly. Initially, I was offended that she was playing first, because she is one of my favorite DJs so of course she deserved to headline, but in the end she provided the perfect gateway into a hard-hitting night of dance music. She was followed by Lauren Dillard, who started playing what sounded like a hotel pool party playlist, featuring Rihanna and Mariah Carey, the kind of pop candy that’s ignored by Bossa Nova’s usual roster of serious DJs.
Ultimately, any resistance I had to the night made me more aware of my own criticism of all things female. How we have been trained to be even harder on our selves and our talent due to ingrained ideas of capacity and execution. Which is why events like Discwoman are more important than ever in fostering talent and normalizing the presence of capable, thriving female artists. The place was packed by midnight, and when Ariana Paoletti began playing her usual uplifting techno, it felt like any other night. Which was kind of the whole point.
Photos by Kelly Kai.