by: Jess Dilday
This upcoming Friday, Girls Rock NC will be hosting their first annual Rock Roulette Showcase Benefit at the Pinhook – a venue that has also recently benefitted from a string of fundraisers. Volunteers and former Girls Rock campers have formed bands and are now fundraising for Girls Rock NC. Eight of these bands will be performing at the Pinhook Friday, along with MC Stormie Daie, followed by a late night dance party by Luxe Posh of Full House Collective and yours truly.
Girls Rock NC is a nonprofit that has been empowering girls, women, and folks of marginalized genders through creative expression since 2004. They put on a fantastic rock camp every year, teaching workshops on musical instruments, zine making, body confidence, DIY clothing, and more. I’ve had the great fortune of teaching a DJ workshop at this camp, and there is nothing like seeing kids’ eyes light up when they realize that they, too, can DJ. I know at least one girl last year walked away with a DJ name already in mind.
While men still have a stronghold on DJ scenes worldwide, female and genderqueer DJs are forming strong connections and collaborating with each other through both internet networking and through IRL organizations such as Girls Rock. It took me years of wishing I was a DJ to actually become one, because the boys I knew that DJ’ed in high school and beyond wouldn’t teach me, and would constantly hog the decks. It was when I finally met a female DJ that was willing to mentor me that I started DJ’ing. Once I started playing out in clubs, I immediately ran into the phenomenon of male DJs and sound guys assuming I didn’t know how to hook up my own equipment. What is that?!! But then I found other female/genderqueer DJs to commiserate with when dudes would pull that shit.
I don’t know as much as I’d like to know about the way bands function (still working on my bass guitar skills so I can join the Hole cover band of my fantasies), but I imagine they have to deal with similar crap from male musicians and venue owners because, patriarchy.
This is one of the reasons organizations like Girls Rock are so important for young musicians: in a world that is currently set up to disempower people who aren’t cis men, having a space to feel empowered and acknowledge the challenges we face as girls, women, and folks of marginalized genders is CRUCIAL. Girls Rock creates a space with adult volunteers to look up to and to aspire to be like, a space where you can meet other campers who might later become your band members, part of your new DJ collective, or contributors to your burgeoning zine.
Come check out the musical connections that have been made through Girls Rock this Friday! Here’s a list of the bands (and some of them even have links if you want to follow them):
Sassmaster (including Clarion Content writer Allie Mullin!)