Ann Arbor Awesome Foundation funds DJing workshop for women

The Ann Arbor Awesome Foundation awarded one of two $1,000 mini-grants to Seraphine Collective on November 5, 2017 to fund the collective’s Beat Match Brunch program for female and female-identifying DJs.

Ann Arbor Awesome Foundation trustees present Sophia Softky of Seraphine Collective with their grant funds.

Ann Arbor Awesome Foundation trustees present Sophia Softky of Seraphine Collective with their grant funds.

DJ culture, in Detroit and elsewhere, is male-dominated: VICE magazine reports that women make up under 10 percent of all DJs at music festivals. There is also a high barrier to entry — the cost of equipment can be prohibitive, and as beginners, women are less likely to have access to technical mentorship, practice space, and booking opportunities. In April 2016, Seraphine Collective, a Detroit community of feminists supporting marginalized Detroit artists, rose to this challenge. The collective launched its first workshop series, Beat Match Brunch, a month-long introduction to the fundamentals of the art form for aspiring female-identified DJs. The first workshop, facilitated by Detroit DJ Mother Cyborg, was so popular that about half of the applicants had to be turned away.

Eight women with diverse musical tastes and cultural backgrounds learned how to use turntables; handle, select and “read” vinyl records; isolate sounds; and use beats per minute to beat-match, all in a supportive and collaborative environment. After completing the workshop, several of the DJs have continued to independently borrow equipment, organize practice sessions, and perform at dozens of events around town.

Seraphine Collective hosted its next round of workshops, for 12 people this time, in September 2017. Additionally, the collective hopes that the Beat Match Brunch program will become self-sustaining, with graduates teaching later generations and performing at fundraising events.

Awesome Foundation funds will be used to purchase industry-standard equipment, rent practice space, compensate facilitators, and build a record library for collective use. Seraphine Collective’s first priority is to purchase at least one more set of secondhand Technics 1200 turntables, and purchase a collection of practice records. With funding from the Awesome Foundation, the collective will be able to continue opening up the dance floor as a transformative organizing space for women often marginalized by technology and media.

The Ann Arbor Awesome Foundation is the Ann Arbor chapter of the Boston-based micro-philanthropic organization known as the Awesome Foundation. Each fully autonomous chapter supports awesome projects through micro-grants, usually given out monthly. These micro-grants, $1000 or the local equivalent, come out of the pockets of the chapter’s “trustees” and are given on a no-strings-attached basis to people and groups working on awesome projects.