Siren Siren
Photo by Francesca Allen

London Crew Siren Defy Sexism in Dance Music

July 20, 2016
Text by Editorial Team
Photo by Francesca Allen

Siren preach equity before equality, support female producers and organize partys following a safe space policy. PW-Magazine asked them for tools against discrimination.

Siren is a group of women in their early 20s, based mostly in London, and all involved in music in various ways. They came together following a Facebook post and have since become close friends. The majority of the crew is white, and around half of them are queer. The collective’s motto is »no bullshit, just dancing« and they aim to challenge the »homogenous status quo of dance music«. Since the release of their Siren Zine, which disproves prejudices and introduces female producers, the crew has attracted much public attention.

Why do you think the dance music scene adopted sexist structures, when it’s originally strongly influenced by queer subculture?

When house and techno moved to Europe, the political contexts and scenes associated with the genres changed dramatically. From music of protest or escape, they became largely the music of ‘escapism’: appropriated by mostly white crowds who often ignored the political context.

As it’s grown in popularity, we see external power structures replicating themselves within dance music: white, cis-het, middle class men are pushed to the top because of their social, cultural and economic advantage, and accordingly black, queer, femme and working class people became increasingly sidelined.

What is needed to support female producers and crush chauvinism?

Visibility is very important: book and promote female and non-binary DJs and artists. It’s also crucial to be intersectional, and to remember that if you’re only promoting white cis-het women, you’re replicating many of the shitty power structures that exclude less privileged people from the scene. Booking artists you love on musically coherent lineups goes a long way to crush chauvinism about women being inferior DJs.

How do you realise your safe space policies? Do you organize events in locations where you can instruct the bouncers?

We run both public and private events. The public events are held at Rye Wax, and we have a good relationship with the venue and their staff, who understand the concept of the night and our safer spaces policy. We run our private events totally by ourselves, so we are able to have much more control over the space then.

The main thing is making sure that you have as many clued up people as possible on the dance floor, and that if anyone does violate anyone else’s space, they’re out and not coming back. We post our policy in the event beforehand and stick copies around the club so everyone in the space should know.

You want to reach equity by booking all female lineups. What do you think of female quota in general?

We discussed this issue with Courtesy, of Apeiron Crew, who played our party in April. Our take, and that of most of the women in this article, is that a musically coherent, intersectional and well considered all women lineup is fantastic: it provides a space for people who are structurally disadvantaged and can be an incredible, empowering experience. When done badly, for example as an attempt to win some kind of progressive brownie points as opposed to a genuine desire to promote artists you respect, it can be insulting and regressive.

What role should men take to change the status quo?

As a man, if you run parties, book women (and don’t make a big deal about it!), promote less privileged people within the scene, and implement a safer spaces policy. Whatever your involvement in the scene, understand harassment and respond appropriately when called out on your behavior. And take a step back!

Do you think there is a lack of support for female artists within the gay techno scene?

Within the gay techno scene that I know in London, they do support more female artists and strive for spaces that are safer than in the ‘straight’ techno scene, but again it’s key to remember that power dynamics replicate themselves within most communities. White gay cis men tend to dominate gay techno scenes and it would be cool to see more promotion of POC, femme and non-binary people within these spaces.

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