2 min

Here we roar

Gal DJs take back the decks

THEIR OWN BEAT. DJs Heather, Denise Benson (pictured here) and Wasabi spin at unique women's urban culture fest, Taking Back The Decks. Credit: Xtra files

Women DJs, dancers, skaters and artists will be centre stage, back stage and running the sounds at Take Back The Decks, a unique showcase for women from across North America at the leading edge of urban culture.

Toronto is the second leg of a North American tour which began in New York City last spring. The 12-hour event is on Sun, Aug 27 at the Guvernmnent (132 Queen Quay E).

“This is a very different kind of women’s event,” says dyke DJ about town Denise Benson. “There are more and more women DJs in Toronto – I can’t even name them all anymore.

“But they usually get billed as ‘chic’ DJs in all-girl events organized by men. Often the graphics for these events have caricatures of chics with huge tits.

“This night is about women as artists, period. It is organized from women within the scene.”

Wasabi, who has been a DJ for just over a year, agrees that it is hard to get recognized for her music as opposed her gender.

“It is a double edged sword because we absolutely need to support and show solidarity to other women by playing together,” says Wasabi. “But we don’t want to perpetuate being known by our pronoun as opposed to our music. We don’t want to be booked just because of being a female DJ – or in my case a gay female DJ.

“Of course, who I am is part of the music that I play,” she admits. “If a track has homophobic lyrics, I’m not going to play it because it has a fat bass line. But most of the time I’m just spinning the music that I like.”

Take Back The Decks has two parts. Roll Sista Roll, a free all ages street party in the Guvernment parking lot, running from 2pm to 7pm. There will be ramps set-up for skaters and a how-to-DJ clinic run by turntablist champion DJ Shortee from Atlanta Georgia.

Then it’s Spin Sista Spin, which runs from 7pm till 2am, featuring DJs like K Hand from Detroit, DJ Flight from the UK and Torontonians Twinstar, DJ Stach, DJ Chocolate, MC True and many more (tix are $10 in advance; $12 at the door).

“Street culture is still a male dominated field,” says co-organizer Charlene Ma. “Women often feel discouraged by not meeting other female artists. We want to create an environment where it feels easy to get involved.”

Benson hopes that an event like this will raise the profile of talented female DJs to all audiences and result in more women getting booked.

“Because,” she says, “that’s just the way it should be.”

The events are open to men and women; for tix and info call (416) 892-2377.