DFW Music News

Pro-Choice Activists Are Ready to Fight in Dallas With Help From Pussy Riot

Feminist protest band Pussy Riot is coming to play a DJ set in Dallas. Prepare for revolution.
Feminist protest band Pussy Riot is coming to play a DJ set in Dallas. Prepare for revolution. Neil Krug
On Sept. 23, Pussy Riot's Nadya Tolokonnikova posted a photo to Instagram combatively holding up an American flag-themed banner. It reads: “One nation under pussy.”

The post by the founding member of the Russian feminist punk rock group followed the Alabama stop of "VASECTOMY," Pussy Riot’s benefit tour for reproductive rights.

Pussy Riot’s next stop: Dallas.

“You know shit is getting real when one of the world’s most notorious protest groups calls and says, ‘How can we help?’” Josh Smith, music promoter with Banjos to Beats, wrote Sept. 17 in a Facebook post.


Tolokonnikova will be headlining a DJ set produced by Banjos to Beats at 4 p.m. Oct. 2 at Thunderbird Station in Deep Ellum (3400 Commerce St.) benefitting the Texas Equal Access Fund. The event will take place directly after the Dallas Reproductive Liberation March, scheduled for 1 p.m. at Main Street Garden (1902 Main St.).

“We are taking a stand, we are saying that SB 8 is a bridge too far,” says Soraya Santos, a reproductive rights activist and one of the organizers behind the march along with nonprofit Afiya. “This is something that has lit up women, not just in Dallas, and not just in Texas, but all over the country. We want to capture some of this energy right now and make a really strong statement to Governor Abbott, and the Texas GOP, that this will not stand, that we are in control of our bodies, that we have the right to control our bodies and we have the right to safe legal abortion.”

Two days after Texas’ Senate Bill 8 went into effect on Sept. 1, effectively banning abortions beyond six weeks of gestation, Tolokonnikova called Josh Smith and his wife, Amanda Smith, to find out how to aid in battling Texas’ insuppressible misogyny. The Smiths immediately got to work.

“It was important for us to work alongside strong female energy for this event, so we reached out to local reproductive rights activist Soraya Santos, and Kim Finch, owner and operator of Thunderbird Station, to see if they were interested in coming on board,” Amanda Smith, Banjos and Beats co-owner, says. “Their response was incredibly enthusiastic, so we immediately went to work on making it a reality.”

The Smiths say the response to the event has been overwhelmingly positive. Thunderbird Station’s 500-person capacity is expected to sell out. Attendees 21 and older are welcomed and must purchase tickets in advance.

It is only fitting that one of Finch’s bars be the hosting venue for Pussy Riot’s DJ set. The outspoken Finch, who also owns Double Wide and Single Wide, is no stranger to fighting for reproductive rights. Now, Pussy Riot will help amplify the message.

“When people hear Pussy Riot they think two things: feminist and fearless,” Santos says. “A lot of people are responding to fearless feminists right now. After the anger, the fearlessness remains, and you realize that it’s gone too far. It becomes personal.”

“A lot of people are responding to fearless feminists right now. After the anger, the fearlessness remains and you realize that it’s gone too far. It becomes personal.” – Soraya Santos

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Senate Bill 8, “The Heartbeat Bill,” makes no exception for cases of rape, incest or a baby's inability to survive outside of the womb, leaving women with little decision-making power over their own bodies.

“If there's one thing that I want to do most as an activist, it's to empower people and I want to empower people to speak their truth and speak their truth to the elected leaders,” Santos says. “People often look at their Congress people, even their city council members, as being on some kind of pedestal and thinking, ‘Well, they're already elected, there's nothing else I can do,’ and that is the attitude that I want to reach because if we use our voices, and we use our power, then we cannot be denied.”

The Smiths urge Texans to get involved outside of the benefit by getting educated, volunteering, donating and participating in legislation by voting at every election, not just presidential elections.

“We can fight back with our voices, our actions and, most importantly, our presence at the ballot box,” Josh says. “In the words of the late John Lewis, ‘Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.’”
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Desiree Gutierrez is a music and culture intern at the Dallas Observer. Equipped with her education from Dallas College Brookhaven Campus and the University of North Texas' Mayborn School of Journalism, Desiree has transformed the ability to overthink just about anything into a budding career in journalism.