YoIn time for International Women’s Day, MAGGIE BOCHAT is launching the Diversity Database, celebrating WA’s range of genders, ethnicities, experiences, and abilities. Here she explains firsthand why she created (updated) a Diversity Database in the first place. 

We wriggle our way to the front, the best place on the dancefloor, like always. It’s our final night together (or so I thought… my flight was cancelled at 12am) so we spend it doing what we do best; dancing and laughing and drinking and hugging.

The DJs rotate songs and rotate themselves; reggae to house. Disco to pop. Femme to masc and back again. It’s a 50/50 lineup. It feels good. Between glasses of $6 champagne and freshly cut watermelon that is passed through the crowd, we dip into the unisex bathrooms. All are welcome. It stinks like piss but we all feel empowered. Bridget finds a sick pair of sunnies near the urinal.

The sun is setting over the amphitheatre, light illuminating the disco ball. The second DJ fades out as the third DJ drops in; head phones on. What does she play?

“My neck, my back, lick my pussy and my crack…”

The crowd goes wild as Khia’s My Neck, My Back (Lick It) starts a set we will never forget. She switches genres seamlessly, mixing classics with unknown house bangers. I want to ask her the name of every song, but that’s against DJ code (or something). A boy in the crowd next to me says, “Fuck yeah she’s killing it. I love chick DJs!”. He says it honestly. I can tell he means it. At the end of her set the crowd erupts in a roar of joy and ecstasy as she beams with pride and humility. I point to her and mouth “You’re a queen!” She smiles and mouths back “You too”.

I fly back to Perth hungover but full, reminded of why I’m doing the work I’m doing. Diversity feels possible. Diversity feels good.

There’s been so many times I’ve stood at gigs in Perth and felt this goodness. When Feels played under the pine trees at Laneway, followed by Jesswar, followed by Reef Prince. Watching Nicole Filev b2b with Warsame at the Bird. Putting on a gig full of WOMPP (Women of Music Production Perth) queens with Chris Wright killing it on sound. Getting sweaty to House of BOK in the basement. Elise mixing sound for JAMILLA at the Navy Club. Watching Baby Kool and Jacob Diamond support Stella Donnelly at Mojos.

But there’s also been times when diversity hasn’t come as naturally; when it hasn’t appeared in front of me like I wish it always would. What do I mean by diversity? A mix of genders (a spectrum!), cultural diversity , experience, abilities. It’s a showing of masc and femme energy, a representation of our Indigenous brothers and sisters alongside other people of colour. It’s a display of all sexualities – members of the LGBTQI+ community. Diversity is a celebration and representation of EVERY type of human; we are lucky to have so many.

Last year brought a lot of rain; #meToo forced me to cough up the lump in my throat that built up after my experiences of sexual harassment, assault and abuse. Then came #meNoMore; a commitment to changing the toxic, misogynistic culture of the music industry that allowed the patriarchy to rule. During this time I made it my commitment to call out gigs that did not display diversity; that favoured cis white males over all others; putting them in the spotlight and simultaneously silencing others.

Why is this wrong?

When you put someone on stage, you are inviting the world to celebrate them. If we continue to celebrate the single group that dominates our society, how will we ever see equality? How will we ever see change? By not representing a social group on stage, you are telling the world that they don’t matter.

As I sent messages and posted on walls in protest of all male line ups, I got the same response; “We asked all the [non white male] musicians we know; they weren’t available.” I felt helpless – how can I share with you my network, my proof that there ARE unique and diverse and incredible musicians existing in our music community despite the setbacks that society inflicts on them.

In response to that I present a solution to your problem; a Diversity Database of Perth musicians that identify as the following: fem/non-binary, LGBTQI+, Aboriginal/ Indigenous/ Torres Strait Islander, person of colour, and disabled. Find it at the following link: http://bit.ly/2oRmqGU.

It extends to bands, solo artists, promoters, DJs/producers, dancers, performance artists, crew members, visual artists and designers (capable of making poster/album art) and presenters/ MCs. This database was originally created by Xanthea O’Connor a few years ago. With great privilege she has allowed me to expand on it. This database will be public and editable by all. So please! Make a contribution to it! Add yourself, your friends, your idols. Spread it around like a rainbow.

There is no longer an excuse to create a public piece of art (aka a gig) that is exclusive. There is no longer an excuse to fail in representation of minority groups in Western Australia. There is no longer an excuse to continue the toxic patterns that silence the incredible artists who deserve recognition.

I am so pleased to join you in this journey of diversity; as a punter, a performer, promoter and presenter. I hope with this database, the work in creating safe spaces in all venues in Western Australia is achieved.

Happy International Women’s Day!

Check out and contribute to the Diversity Database, launched today as part of the International Women’s Day celebrations, by clicking on the following link: http://bit.ly/2oRmqGU

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