YOU CAN’T DANCE LIKE THAT

I need ur help !!

female djs

My dissertation is titled ‘Conceptualising Gender in Alternative Spaces: Sexism, Feminity and Boundaries in Club Cultures’. For my study I am aiming to conduct an auto-/ethnographic research study in to dance music subcultures and the misogyny and limitations for women within.

When I say dance music it includes house, techno, tech-house, bass, jackin, dub, drum n bass, jungle, lo-fi and all the other off-shoots of electronic dance music. From the lack of female DJ’s on an average dance event lineup to the rampant sexism and harassment experienced by most female clubbers, it is more than obvious that the dance industry is a heterosexual, masculine-dominated one.

So for my thesis, I don’t just want to recall the negative experiences from women on the dancefloor, but I want to begin to analyse the construction of dance music spaces, and how these have come to be male-coded spaces. To do this I need the opinions of both men and women…

Some of the issues I have come across and have interested me in exploring further revolve around dance and sexuality. Much of the academic research surrounding dance music/club cultures have found that women who display outright feminity (for example, wearing heels and a clutch bag, dancing in a feminine manner) have been viewed as less legitimate of a partaker of the music, purely because of their femininity. Other studies have found certain DJ’s relate certain sounds to women, (e.g vocals in house tracks) and play these tracks to attract women to the dancefloor because if the women are dancing, the men will too. This, of course is based on sexist stereotypes. Women are scrutinised for not conforming to male expectations of dance, or how they should act and behave if genuine followers of the music.

“The participation of women who are ‘regulars’ is validated in part by their choice to adopt masculine styles of dancing.”

These gender obstacles are experienced by female DJ’s too. Nina Kraviz recalls a time in which she was criticised for sitting in a  bathtub in one of her videos, as this was interpreted as ‘sexual performance’. The issue here is that this naturalises masculinity. By suggesting anything a woman does is a “blatant use of sexuality and superficiality” only enforces the male gaze by presuming anything a woman does is to gain the attraction of men. Thus “there is no conceptualized space in which Kraviz can embrace or even reveal a feminine sexuality without it being seen as selling out or cashing in.”

This experience of Nina Kraviz made me think about the act of going to a club and dancing as a female in a completely different way. Is the way I am positioned, and what I do only validated in relation to masculine ideals? Can hyper-sexuality and hyper-femininity be expressed by women within dance scenes without delegitimizing their position as partakers of dance music?

To try and answer these questions I would like to gather the answers from individuals who consider themselves to be part of the dance music subculture and would regard dance music to be a part of their identity.

If you are female or male or any other gender and would like to be involved in an interview or focus group to talk about your experiences (harassment and sexism) and your views on gender in dance music then it would be a great help!!

Please get in contact via my instagram @babylannay or email me at lannaytooze@gmail.com 🙂

thank you

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