DFW Music News

Dallas' DJ B Breaks All Barriers As a Legally Blind Woman Behind the Booth

DJ B is blind, but she sees a future free from sexism.
DJ B is blind, but she sees a future free from sexism. Glen Vigus
Female DJs have to overcome many barriers in a male-dominated industry. Bridget Frank, who spins as DJ B, has an additional challenge: She is legally blind.

Frank is visually impaired through a rare genetic condition called Stargardt disease, but despite any obstacles, Frank continues to pursue her passion and is establishing her DJing career. Born and raised in Dallas, the 24-year-old is no stranger to the local music scene. At the moment, she lives in College Station, where she attended Texas A&M and earned a degree in political science with a minor in psychology, but she's frequently in Dallas to visit family and parents — and play a show, like her recent gig at Electric Rooftop at 77 degrees in Knox-Henderson.

Frank's sets consist mostly of electronic, pop, top 40, classics and hip-hop. One of her favorite types of music to play is dubstep because she can feel the high intensity and upbeat energy.

“When I DJ, my biggest priority is to get people to dance and to move," she says. "I want for everyone to feel happy and energetic.”

Frank credits all of her music knowledge to her parents growing up: mom listened to Prince and Mariah Carey while dad showed her The Doors, Eminem and Rage Against the Machine. One of her favorite artists is Skillrex, who was the first to inspire her interest in DJing.

Stargardt causes fatty material to build up around the central retina, meaning if you were to be sitting at a table next to Frank, she couldn’t see you. She can discern the shapes of objects and people up close, but can't make out the details of someone’s facial features at a distance.

“People often think that you’re either all the way blind, or not blind," she says, "you either have no vision, or vision. It’s like people don’t believe that it’s possible to be visually impaired with having only some of your eyesight.”

Frank is often told she doesn’t look stereotypically "blind" and has been on the end of many insensitive jokes about her disability. During live sets, she uses an accessibility app to zoom in on her laptop and enlarge the titles of tracks she is playing. People will sometimes go to her DJ booth and be shocked at what they see. They’ll say things like, “Wow, why are you doing that?” When she tells them that she is legally blind, she'll get answers like, “Well, have you tried glasses?"

“When people push my buttons or say something they might not know, it only motivates me to keep going, get better and to keep grinding," Frank says with a smile. "I’m always here to prove them wrong.”

The stereotypes don’t stop there. Frank says people judge her ability to play as a female DJ. When she's setting up, male promoters and sound guys tend to insist on trying to help her or question her ability or knowledge, she says.

“The only time I need help is when I’m carrying my equipment," Frank says. "However, I know how to run sound, run all of my cords and how to set everything up.”

Sometimes, they’ll even make jokes about the kind of music she will play.

"One of the first gigs I played was in Dallas, and this guy had asked me, ‘What are you going to play for us? A bunch of Taylor Swift?’” Frank says, “It’s like they think because I have a high ponytail and a bow, do they think I’m stepping out of cheer practice? Just because I’m a chick doesn’t mean I can’t throw down some good music.”

Frank says that being a female DJ also comes with unwarranted comments and harassment.

“One time I thought this guy was giving me a compliment by saying my necklace was nice, but then later, he mentioned that I had nice breasts," Frank says. "It completely turned me off.”

Certainly, neither Frank's gender nor impaired vision affect her ability to DJ. In some ways, they give her experience and strengths above those of her male peers.

“People just see me as a young girl who is bouncing around and thinks this is just fun, " Frank says. "When in reality this is my job I take incredibly seriously. I don’t want people to think I don’t know anything because I’m a girl or I’m a visually impaired. I am just as fully capable as anyone else in this world.”

But Frank continues to strive and doesn’t let judgments hold her back. If anything, having Stargardt has helped her tune into and heighten her hearing, and therefore her spinning skills. Since she can’t see the audience, it helps her to be able to focus on what she is playing.

“I do not see the individual eyes on me," Frank says. “Instead, I fully lock into my own zone when I feel the energy that’s around me. I can feel the people dancing and feel the movement of the crowd. I absolutely love it. My lack of vision has given me a much better connection to the music. You lose one sense while another one gets stronger.”

Frank usually brings her own equipment. She has memorized where most of the keys and buttons are on her laptop and controller so she can quickly shift from one to the next with ease. She describes her laptop as an extension of her arm, where she just automatically knows what to do.

“I always put myself out there to show people that you can do this, too," Frank says. "No matter what your circumstances, sexual orientation or disability, it shouldn’t hold you back from doing what you love.”

Frank uses Siri to read her text messages and speech-to-text to write our her own. On her phone, the font is enlarged and she uses her device as a magnifier to zoom in on physical items. Her laptop, makeup products and shampoo bottles all have dot bumps on them so that she can be able to decipher which products are which.

In College Station, she plays her sets at The Corner Bar and Rooftop Grill, El Jefe and Dragonfly. She’s a fan of drag shows, and her fun, colorful style reflects that.

The number of female DJs is increasing every year. Frank says she is proud and happy to witness this change.

"Just because you can’t see does not mean you don’t have vision … I certainly have a vision. ” –DJ B

tweet this

“In high school, I would look at lineups for huge music festivals, and there would only be like two DJs that identified as female, but now, there’s all kinds of women headlining, and I think that’s so awesome to see the growth finally happen,” Frank says.

Frank believes that there is plenty of opportunity for women to come together and mutually build their potential. She says that she will always support local female DJs.

“I think with female DJs, there’s always room for more," she says. "Let’s open that party more, let's get more girls in that party. I think Dallas is on the right track. Could we be doing better though? Absolutely. And who doesn’t want an awesome girl up there playing rave music? Most of the times, I’m not playing for the boys, I’m playing for the girls. I’ve been seeing a lot more headlining female DJs lately, but there’s always room for more growth.”

During the pandemic, many people focused on building on their passions and side hobbies. One of Frank's fans, a young girl, told Frank that she had inspired her to pursue DJing during the COVID lockdowns. Encouraging others is the most meaningful part of the job for Frank.

“We shouldn’t be in competition,” Frank says. "I don’t like the idea that more ladies come into the DJ world and are seen as competition. Instead, it should be seen as other inspirational women coming in to share their passions, their tastes in music, their talents. ... That is the goal. I just want to inspire as many women as possible.”

Lucky for Frank, her own idols are well within reach. The person she looks up to most is her mother.

“My mom is one of the hardest working women, probably the hardest working women I have ever met or been around my entire life,” Frank says. “I’ve seen her work ethic and how she handles herself and presents herself professionally and gets her work done. She’s just incredibly passionate about everything that she does. I want to embody that in my own work, my career and my art.”

Frank says an original, produced track is in the works this year. She’ll also be playing a set at The Pawtio in Frisco this coming month and intends to move back to Dallas from College Station by the end of this year. For Frank, DJing isn't something that sprung despite her disability, but because of it.

'Where I found the most happiness is in my mixers … my headphones, it has helped me cope with my eyesight,” Frank says. “Shout out to my vision, getting me in this spot of DJing. I couldn’t be happier doing what I love to do.

“I like to take everything I’ve been given in the universe, as whole and completely as I can," she says. "Having a vision impairment doesn’t define who I am. It only adds to the spice that I am, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Just because you can’t see does not mean you don’t have vision … I certainly have a vision. ”
KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Tina-Tien Nguyen is a freelancer for the Dallas Observer. You can find her enjoying her favorite spots in Dallas eating, shopping and discovering new music. When not working, she likes to play guitar, write songs, meditate and do yoga.