Trans Women DJs Are Taking Over the Club
Trans Women DJs Are Taking Over the Club

Trans Women DJs Are Taking Over the Club

Aviance recalls a moment from the Carry Nation’s last New Year’s party, when, on stage before a crowd of muscly gays, she and her friend Xander danced what she calls “full-femme, all-out faggotry queendom to the highest degree” at the climax of the night. “I was like, ‘This feels different now. It was not like this before.’”

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Though the pandemic devastated the global club scene at large, many trans DJs actually credit it with helping to catalyze the doll takeover. The shuttering of bars and clubs “gave us space to party on rooftops and in woods, fields, even my backyard,” says Infiniti. “We didn’t have the privilege of just ‘staying home.’ Many of us needed to survive and make money by whatever means we had. It was an opportunity to make our talents known without anyone in our way.”

Dijon underscores how far things have come since she got her start. “As trans people, we basically lived in the dark,” she says, but now “it’s a whole new generation that have definitions, spaces, and medical care that allow them to flourish.” She names Infiniti, Dangerous Rose, and Memphy as young trans artists “who are making space, unapologetically and fiercely.”

The proliferation of trans-centric parties and collectives has now gone worldwide, including San Antonio’s House of Kenzo, Berlin’s No Shade, and emerging spaces in Brazil and Colombia. “I’m glad I could have been a part of changing the way things were,” says Infiniti, though she adds, “I wish I could get more money about it, because it’s still struggle life out here.”

It’s important to follow the money: Besides Rash, which plans to reopen this fall, and Seattle’s Kremwerk, which is also trans-owned, practically all venues are owned by cis people, usually white men, who profit off showcasing queer talent. Says Dijon, “Until we have more trans people behind the scenes, making decisions of what’s actually happening and being in creative positions of power, it’s just a lot of optics.”

While there’s still more progress to be made, every time a trans woman gets behind the decks, she is claiming power. She can orchestrate a crowd’s experience, get paid for sharing her art, and inspire other gender non-conformers who watch her preside in her own way. “DJing is inherently trans,” says Aviance. “It’s putting things together that aren’t supposed to be together. It’s tearing things apart, and seeing the world in a different way.”

And who gets to direct the arc of a party is not just about representation—it’s fundamental to determining what kind of community emerges on the dancefloor. “You now have dolls doing parties for the dolls, it’s not for anyone else,” says Infiniti. “Sure, you can come, but this is celebrating us.”

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