As Ultra Music Festival inches toward two full decades as the premier dance-music event in the nation, in 2017 the festival doesn't have a single woman among its headliners and only a handful in the rest of the lineup.
Though it would be nice for the events surrounding Miami Music Week to make up for Ultra's shortcomings, they still don't fare much better, with many parties leaving women out of the DJ booth. However, some organizers are taking steps to make up for overlooked female talent and celebrate diversity in the dance community.
This year's Birdhouse party at the Delano Beach Club will feature DJs known not only for their skills behind the decks but also for their work challenging gender norms in the industry. Performers Honey Dijon and Kim Ann Foxman are staples of the New York and festival scenes, as well as the high-fashion world. Still, despite widespread visibility and media acclaim, Foxman has faced condescension during her rise through the ranks as an androgynous performer.
"I have had to work extra hard to get headliner time slots," she admits. "I've even had to fight to get my name as big as other artists on flyers."
In addition to striving to be seen as equal to the men with whom she's shared bills, Foxman also recalls the ignorance she's encountered from men in the industry.
"Someone once tried to show me how to use a mixer, which was quite condescending. Of course, when I started playing, I think he felt stupid. People have also said stuff like, 'Wow, you play really good for a female.' They are trying to pay me a compliment, but it's pretty frustrating and it shows what kind of world we live in."
Miami-raised, New York-based Cry Baby knows all too well the long list of slights and outright exclusion that female DJs face in their struggle to be heard.
During Soul Clap's House of Efunk party at Electric Pickle Sunday, March 26, she'll launch FM Elle, a collective that aims to get more women on electronic music show lineups.
Dani Lehman, a Detroit-based DJ who is part of the collective, is discouraged by what she sees as a tendency to book female DJs based on appearance instead of skills. She is encouraged, however, by an increasing focus on the topic of including more women on bills.
"All the attention and discussion about it is bringing this all to light," Lehman says. "The more we talk about it, we will start to normalize the culture into thinking this way and becoming more inclusive."
Cry Baby will also play a set on the all-female lineup curated by Gina Turner's project, the Divine Movement, though her aim with FM Elle is to put women on more lineups, period, not just all-female ones.
"We're not asking people to do all-girl lineups, all-girl parties," she says. "It's just about being more aware of the talent that's around and including people who are diverse."
Girls Make Beats, a Miami organization that trains girls aged 8 to 17 in music production, DJing, and audio engineering, will also take part in Divine Movement's event. President and founder Tiffany Miranda believes the lack of inclusion of females in lineups like those of Ultra and MMW begins before girls even get behind the booth or mixing board.
"It's a big marketing problem," she says. "It's never introduced to girls at a young age."
Miranda's organization tries to remedy the issue by not only teaching girls the technical skill set but also putting them in the field to network with the industry heads who might one day give them gigs or jobs. It hosts monthly mixers in which girls from the program get a chance to DJ. The organization believes that placing girls in their element at a young age can ease the problem in future years and in the lineups of tomorrow.
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The Divine Movement
With Gina Turner, Girls Make Beats, Cry Baby, and Bonnie Beats. 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 22, at Drinkhouse Fire & Ice, 1672 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-534-2423; sobefireice.com. Tickets cost $35 to $45 via wantickets.com.
Claude VonStroke Presents the Birdhouse
With Claude VonStroke, Joris Voorn, Skream, J. Philip, Kim Ann Foxman, Honey Dijon, Solardo, Walker & Royce, Jesse Rose, and Denney. 2 to 11 p.m. Saturday, March 25, at Delano Beach Club, 1685 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-924-4071; morganshotelgroup.com. Tickets cost $45 to $55 via delano.wantickets.com.
Soul Clap's House of Efunk Miami
With Cry Baby launching FM Elle. 10 p.m. Sunday, March 26, at Electric Pickle, 2826 N. Miami Ave., Miami; 305-456-5613; electric picklemiami.com.