She's Got Skills

At Dallas' hottest dance clubs, women are getting noticed--behind the turntables

But that's nothing compared with what she faced when she DJed at Kangaroo near Lovers Lane and the Tollway, playing dance music for "the beautiful cocaine crowd...The people with the bloody noses who come up asking you if you know where to get a bump." She jokes there should have been a separate "powder room" for the drug users because getting to the bathroom and back in one song was nearly impossible. "I had a 14-and-a-half-minute version of 'Rappers Delight' that I'd put on, and the security guards knew to meet me at the hallway to go to the bathroom because otherwise I wouldn't make it back," she says.

No DVD, book or Web site can prepare any DJ for these kinds of situations. Reel Girlz Real Skilz offers advice on some things such as DJ skills, etiquette on and off the dance floor, getting contracts, buying equipment. But How to DJ Right: The Art and Science of Playing Records by Frank Broughton and Bill Brewster--"It's like a textbook for DJs," Lewis says--offers its own tips for women in the "How to be a girl" chapter: "Abuse your 'rarity value,'" "Play girls-only nights," "Be part of a scene," "Do it yourself," "Be a showoff."

And those tenets seem to be working for Dallas' female DJs. Most have played female DJ showcases. Some see those shows as any other gig; others think they turn their gender into a gimmick. "I have to ask myself, 'Should I do this or not?' It's a gig, and I can probably make connections there to get other gigs that aren't female-only gigs. But at the same time, it kinda feels like you're selling out," Lewis says. Lewis and Ronin created their own scene with Suck My Deck, and Kehoe and Hughes had Danger Girl Productions. And all have had to promote themselves, balancing the need to hype their acts with humility ("It does help to be modest in certain situations," Ronin says. "But in some situations you have to yell more. No one else is going to blow your horn").

When DJ Wild in the Streets (top) opened for Stereo Total, one of her favorite bands, they commended her song selections. "That was the ultimate validation," she says.
Kristina Hunken
When DJ Wild in the Streets (top) opened for Stereo Total, one of her favorite bands, they commended her song selections. "That was the ultimate validation," she says.
Cyberina Flux (bottom) takes Rocket Radio, her Friday-night show on KNON, to Crave in Deep Ellum once a month.
Mark Graham
Cyberina Flux (bottom) takes Rocket Radio, her Friday-night show on KNON, to Crave in Deep Ellum once a month.

Then there's Patricia Rodriguez, the epitome of do-it-yourself. She never planned to be a DJ; she just wanted to play some records at a party, so she and some friends bought the DJ equipment together and taught themselves how to use it. That one party turned into The Lollipop Shoppe, the year-old, bimonthly themed party that usually takes place at the Avenue Arts Venue in Expo Park with Rodriguez spinning rock music from the '60s and beyond as DJ Tiger Bee, tailoring her sets to the topic, whether it's space-out, spy night or this month's beach party theme. She does her own booking and promoting, too.

Most of these women have one great obstacle left--not to be singled out for their sex (something this article, admittedly, does). DJ Minx's request at the end of Reel Girlz Real Skilz is a common one. "If you know I'm a DJ, just call me a DJ. You don't say 'male DJ' when you see a man." That's something these women are all too familiar with. It reminds Lewis of one of her least favorite compliments: "Sometimes, guys will come up to you and say, 'You're pretty good... for a girl.'"

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