An open letter to Auckland’s dance scene

Dear everyone,

I’ve been noticing a lot of discussion on diversity lately. While this is amazing, there is a way to go about this to foster the good things that are evolving while still taking into account the growth we still need.

The last few days I’ve seen various people in our scene attempting to tear others down over what they believe is a broad lack of representation. I would like to offer some advice as to how we could do this in a more constructive way that doesn’t negate hard work or potentially damage reputations - both of individuals and our scene.

“Who else is playing?”

When I am booked to play anything the first question I ask is, “who else is playing?” The reason for this is because I can gauge instantly their take on diversity. If there are 15 men and I am the only woman (this has happened), I will either tell them they need to book more women, non binary or trans acts or I simply won’t play it. I will not show support to those who do not support us. A simple question, whether you are a man or a woman, can make all the difference. I don’t need to get online and rant about it, my support is shown by my name on the bill. At the same time, I do believe enough is enough and having a raft of men and one token woman is not good enough anymore. So, lads, it’s time to fix up.

Mentor up coming acts.

This is a big one. Lately I’ve heard a similar line from a lot of men regarding women coming up in the scene, “She’s only got the gig because she’s a woman, she’s not that good.” Really. How about instead of telling her she isn’t good enough, offering to help. Think about how much we love to sit and talk music, imagine how rewarding that discussion could be if you are inspiring someone to take a further step, or if you’re showing them some simple tips or tricks. A few months back I talked to an amazingly talented woman who didn’t understand why she was losing momentum in her music, I explained where I drop to keep that momentum going and all of a sudden her sets have more power. I didn’t lose anything by that, but she gained so much. There is power in both sides when you share knowledge.

Stop ranting online like wounded teenagers.

You are creating more drama and less cohesiveness by doing this. As a scene we should been seen to be working together to grow and move forward. Have you approached that promoter you think is not doing enough? Have you offered some thoughts as to how they could broaden their bookings? Have you suggested yourself, or other acts you think would fit? If you are not prepared to come up with answers then you shouldn’t be online tearing people apart. At this point you are nothing but a troll, you’re feeding hate (which is the total anthesis of our scene) and you are potentially damaging someone else brand - often when you don’t have the full picture. When I see promoters ripping into others online, even if I think it’s for a valid reason, it decreases the chances that I will work with them. If you are prepared to viciously rip into a promoter, what’s stopping you doing that to any of us?

If you are booking women to fill a quota, you aren’t doing your job as a promoter.

There is so much talent in our city, in the house and techno scene alone the women coming through are such quality. Sure, they are fresh and may have a long way to go, but we all had to start somewhere. You don’t need to be over the top about it, if your chosen act has been playing a year they don’t need top billing just to show you are booking women. Support is fine, because there is a way to come up through the ranks and when you push someone too quickly without experience you can often damage their career more in the long run. So don’t be a dick about it, no one is ready to be a primetime, top billed DJ in their first few years.

Drop the ego.

We’ve all encountered the almighty great ego of the DJ. It’s not pretty, people don’t want to work with it and you’re not actually all that and a bag of chips. And when you start to rant about our scene with your giant ego hanging over us like a stretch tent, I gotta tell you, I’m tuning out. The most successful people in our scene take the time to help up and coming acts, they don’t talk about others behind their back, they don’t get jealous of others landing something they thought they deserved and most importantly they are kind. No one likes a narcissist.

Finally, my door is ALWAYS open.

I will talk music with you, I’ll help you with tech, I’ll discuss structuring sets, choosing sound, how to get booked, writing an epic bio, you can bounce line-ups off me, we can talk diversity, we can talk scene and we can talk about how to make it better. It would be so great if we could all adopt this ethos. Let’s grow our scene into something that is revered. If you want to talk about making that happen, then hit me up.

I love you, Auckland, let’s do this.

Love Heylady. xx