Girls Rock (and DJ!)

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!)

Mom Jokes

Space CAT


Trash Cant

Bambi’s Mom

Windgardium Furiosa


Jess Dilday is Clarion Content's current Editor-in-Chief and regular contributor. Jess originally moved to Durham to be a part of vibrant communities centered on music, art, and activism. Jess sees Durham as a place where people don’t just sit at a bar and talk about great ideas and rad projects - we put them into action. Their other alias is DJ and producer, PlayPlay. PlayPlay is in a constant musical conversation with the public, speaking across generation, race, ethnicity, gender and sexuality to create an all-inclusive dance floor. PlayPlay has opened for Big Freedia, MC Lyte, TT the Artist, Dai Burger, Double Duchess, Le1f, Jubilee, MikeQ, Cakes Da Killa and others. They are also one of the organizers and resident DJs behind Party Illegal (a monthly dance party in Durham) as well as the creator and organizer of several themed parties at the Pinhook, including the Dreaming of the 90's and Dark Entries parties.

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