Sydney’s FBi Radio has launched a pioneer DJ training program aimed at combatting sexism in the music industry. Dance Class, started in October, will train five young women over a four month period, giving them the skills they need to succeed as a DJ and radio presenter.
The program is coordinated by Andy Garvey, a veteran of FBi’s radio presenter training and an established DJ. For Andy, part of the program was about encouraging women to feel supported in an industry that is dominated by men.
“I’ve been DJing now for almost four years, and there was a big part of the culture when I first started where there just wasn’t enough women in the scene. We were almost always booked as the token girl on the lineup, and it was never really taken as seriously. Inequality is definitely there, and it’s definitely still there four years on,” Garvey says.
Dance Class will teach the girls basic DJ and radio presenting skills, as well as giving them practical experience in the industry. Those who applied were not required to have experience, and according to Andy this was a deliberate choice.
“A lot of the competition stuff doesn’t really fit the vibe we wanted. If we wanted to have a DJ comp I guess it’d just kind of feel like everyone else, but this is about finding the women who are passionate and want to literally make this their career and supporting them as much as you can.”
The participants were selected through a month-long process that narrowed down five candidates from nearly a hundred applications. They were chosen on the basis of industry knowledge and passion.
“I think the main thing [we were looking for] was taste, knowing about record labels, knowing what kind of music you really like and having that obvious passion for dance music and dance culture. If you’re going to clubs every weekend and supporting the community that you want to end up being a part of, that’s important.”
Dance Class has been in the making for several years, but it was funding from V MoVement which allowed the initiative to take off. According to Andy, the partnership has ensured they can deliver a program which will be worthwhile.
“Now we have a proper base to do it really legitimately. To be able to give the girls a platform to step off straight off the bat and launch into the music scene is going to be really special.”
Dance Class will run through to mid January. The girls will then continue to learn under the mentorship of one of five FBi Radio greats, including Adi Toohey, Kali, Sandro Dallarmi and Garvey herself. Being surrounded by others who are passionate about music is one of the best parts of the program, Andy says.
“Being able to create a community of women who can work together – and not even in like a ‘we’re girls, fighting the boys’ kind of way, but just to start to bring together equality and respect – it’s exciting to be taking these steps to do that.”
“It’s going to be really special to see where the girls end up.” //
The DJs-in-training are Genevieve Collier, Tess Nicolaou, Lauren Hansom, Madeleine Carr and Ellie May Locke. Meet them and follow their progress here: fbiradio.com/danceclass