DJ Kasey Riot remembers her first time sneaking into a gay bar, at 16.
“[Lick] was the only place you could get in underage. I remember it being really magical,” she says, laughing.
“I walked in and it was like there were all these other gay people. It was just so nice to get away from the boring, mundane suburban world and have fun with other like-minded people.”
It was at the clubs that she started hanging out with the DJs who would eventually become her mentors.
“I got obsessed with it,” the 25-year-old says. Her mother was a piano teacher who taught all her kids music. Riot moved from the piano to the guitar to the drums, before eventually settling on DJing and producing electronic music.
Riot DJs every Thursday at The Junction, monthly at The Cobalt’s Electric Circus, at Hershe’s long-weekend parties, and is a resident DJ at Sin City Fetish Night. She also hopes to release an electronic album within the next year.
She says that when Lick, Vancouver’s last lesbian bar, shut its doors in 2011, it was a sad time but that there was a hidden silver lining.
“Most of the people who had been involved [at Lick] started throwing their own small parties. In a way, it was a blessing in disguise. It made people branch out and be more creative instead of doing the same thing every weekend.”
She says the drag-king scene has flourished, and many of Lick’s female DJs began getting more attention and started playing at other bars.
“Before, I only played for lesbians, but I had so many gay friends that it was great to play at the gay-boy bars. It’s a different vibe; you have to play different music. It forced me to branch out and learn new things.”
Though Riot appreciates all of her success, she says the best part of being a DJ is feeling part of a bigger community.
“There’s more to throwing events than just getting drunk and having a good time; it’s about bringing people together.”