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beauty is pop culture // sex rules the world 

  • Arianne Obi

Dance music's Diversity Dilemma.

The debate about diversity in dance music is a tale as old as time, but how did the industry get this way? Who should we be spotlighting to champion diverse talent?

Photo Credit : Arianne Obi

“ooOII mOntY shE liKes FrEd AgAin” viral TikTokker Henry Rowley mumbles in vocal fry in his video satirising people at an East London afters. I’m ashamed to say I’ve met these people (cough gone on a painful Hinge date with these people (a canon event for any woman before their frontal cortex has fully developed), sub-par musicians with their condom-beanie and Pioneer decks in tow. They’re ‘five-eleven’ (yeh, right) and have an obsession for Bicep or Mall Grab. Their housemate works at NTS and made an empty promise to give them a slot, and they think that what Peggy Gou lacks in talent, she makes up for in good looks. They are average DJ’s, but they are white men in dance music, which makes them finger-spinning gods.

In January 2019, DJ Mag released an article titled ‘Is Dance Music too Middle Class’, exploring the demographics and inequalities within the industry. In a nutshell, the answer to the primary question is ‘Yes’, finding that the scene has taken a step back from the heyday of dance music in the 80s and 90s, with musicians being whiter and more affluent than before. From my personal experience, this rings all too true. Having gone to a Top 10 uni with a student body which was 91% white during my year of enrollment, I can confidently say that every other boy from Surrey was proud of two things - their Fiat-five-hundred girlfriend, and their fully loaded USB stick.

Many genres can trace their roots within black history and culture, so there’s an irony that these spaces seem to be occupied largely by those who do not reflect that heritage. Chicago House and Detroit Techno emerged in the U.S.A in the 1980’s, after a period that was rife with Disco music; inspired by the previous period of Swing, Jazz, Rhythm and Blues. Dub was birthed in studios in Jamaica before spreading beyond, whilst Jungle and Dubstep emerged out of the UK rave scene, particularly in the depths of South London. This weekend I was explaining the granular details of my article to a friend, when our cool-as-a-cucumber bartender chimed in. Now 47 and running a bar where they serve things like 'small plates' and 'natural wine', he reminisced about the hey-dey of club culture in the USA. He confirmed that the clientele was predominantly black, and that unlike clubs today these we makeshift spaces which felt more open, less pretentious and cultivated a real sense of community.

Photo Credit : Dazed

The cause of this demographic shift is complex; blending historical, cultural and socio-political factors. The development of electronic music as it crossed the Atlantic is one component, particularly given that the countries on this soil are predominantly white. Furthermore, the media and music industry has been key to amplifying the voices in this genre, with the privileged screaming the loudest.

Secretsundaze founder, James Priestly, goes on to say; “Social mobility and the dominance of wealth and privilege is something that urgently needs to be addressed in dance music”... “Now, there are very few people from less affluent backgrounds or people of colour involved in the scene”. A 2022 report by the Jaguar Foundation discovered that less than 1% of the dance music played on UK radio was made by a female solo artist or all-female band, whilst just 5% of dance songs in the charts were made exclusively by women and non-binary artists. The report also suggests that, the more diverse the lineup is, the more diverse the crowd will be, so it makes sense that 37% of events had over 60% male ticket buyers. If you have a lineup that reflects its audience, some people are going to feel like it’s not for them - so how do you expect BIPOC, female and queer music-lovers to feel in these spaces?

Now I don’t know anything about Mr F. Again’s character and yes sometimes I do bop to his music (let the record make clear that this is only because of the satire, Triangle of Sadness), but wouldn’t it be nice for him to use his privilege to partner with an incubator championing the works of minority youth? Or be opened by more BIPOC, female, queer and non-binary artists? Despite this all, the landscape is slowly shifting, Mixmag has revealed that female DJs are said to play twice as many shows as male DJs and are showing forceful determination to break through in a tough industry. And so, here are some DJs and collectives you should have on your radar:

VALENTINA LUZ - @valenttinaluz

Brazilian DJ knows no bounds when it comes to her music. Representing the queer community with full force, she has graced the world’s stage with her presence and captivated audience with her unique sound, influenced by her heritage. Besides DJing, Luz is also an activist for the LGBTQIA+ community and has been a previous recipient of the WME Awards for best DJ.

WAAW - @waawdj

Photo Credit : Dennis Eluyefa

Twins Rebecca and Naomi Snow are making waves in the dance space as a duo, WAAW. Their music takes us on a journey through different cultures and genres, introducing dancers to new musical experiences. The twosome have performed all across London, including the iconic Boiler Room and East London stomping ground, the Haggerston, as well as hosting their own residency on Foundation FM.


Photo Credit: Riposte

The collective hosts nights which are a blend of energetic nightlife and artistic expression from creatives in the LGBTQIA+ community. The night gives priority to QTPOC to show off their art in the form of DJ sets, stalls, performances and visual art, creating a stimulating and inclusive night for their community (and sometimes allies).


Photo Credit: Rinse FM

Sister duo run a night called Faemeli, blending music from all across the diaspora. Noticing a ‘need for progression’ in the London scene, they are making themselves known for mixing genres like Afro Tech, Latin House and Baile Funk. Rishy and Sana have brought their infectious sounds and energy to some of the world’s most respected brands, and a plethora of world-wide metropolises including Barcelona, Paris and Rio de Janeiro.

NITE DYKEZ - @nitedykez

Photo Credit : MixMag

Nite Dykez born out of passion 2018 by Mica Coca and GIN, to create an inter-generational music experience for queer womxn. By creating a safe and inclusive space within the LGBTQ+ community, they have been able to build a boundary-pushing collective which spotlights sounds from reggae and lovers rock to soca and R&B.

JYOTY - @jyoty

Photo Credit : HÖR Berlin

Amsterdam-born, London-based Jyoty is a star on the dance music scene. Her Boiler Room set has awarded her somewhat of an ‘icon status’ for her joyful energy and creating a space where POC crowds can literally just vibe. Keep your eyes peeled for her sets and night out - Homegrown - popping up at venues worldwide…

Are you passionate about exploring the intricate worlds of beauty, sex, fashion, wellness and culture ? Do you belong to a marginalised community and have unique perspectives and stories to share? If so, Nightstand Service is eagerly seeking contributing writers like you! Get in touch:


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