Open Letter to the Dance Music Industry in light of Sexual Assault and Rape Allegations
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To My Dearest Dance Music Community,
Hello. It’s me, your friend.
I am the woman behind the decks, the one you invite to conduct the show. I am the person of colour in the first row, who refuses to leave until the lights come on. I am the artist liaison, the LGBQT sound engineer, the migrant girl behind the bar on her feet for hours making sure it is your night.
I don’t ask much from you. I don’t often complain. I love music and the long nights and the things that come with it are something that I know I signed up for. But tonight, I want you to know that when I put my dancing shoes on, I’m doing it #ForTheMusic and nothing more.
I say this because it isn’t the first time I’ve hit the decks and had to face sexism as I play my set. I say this because it isn’t the first time I’ve had to dodge through the wandering hands in the artist area which insist on systematically trying to visit unconsenting places across my body as I do nothing more than try to finish my shift with grace. I say this because its isn't the first time I have heard girls from my country are easy. I say this because it isn’t the first time I’ve been told to submit or never work in this industry again. I say this because it isn’t the first time I’ve tried to tell the bouncer that as I dance away to that night's entertainment the guy behind me who I’ve had to say no to four times now, is following me out the venue and eventually home.
So today, I remind you again- that when I’m waiting in line for 30 minutes outside a club in the pouring rain: I’m doing it #ForTheMusic and nothing more. I say this because so many times, as an artist, as an audience member or as an employee I have had to justify my presence in this scene. Because it isn’t the first time that you have invited me here #ForTheMusic but expected payment in far more than just dance.
The music industry has changed and with it has its people. It is not the industry I came to be a part of, and my friend- this isn’t the industry you came here for either.
Music was born from the desire for a safe space. A place for freedom, for love, for artistic expression. A place that stood for something. In music we found purpose, a higher calling. But somehow along the way, through our journey we let we let DJs become Gods and suddenly they stopped becoming accountable for their actions.
Rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, unwanted attention, misogynistic and sexist obstructions are what we encounter as we try to simply do our jobs. This is the price tag we are paying for.
A game set up for us to lose, where your options are to play by their rules or not to play at all, we submitted. We became less than, we became more marginalised, suppressed our femininity, shunned our identity- became a-sexual. And in the face of fear and arbitration, in a bid to protect our careers, our reputations and even our own physical safety we have stayed silent. But not anymore.
We have lost our jobs, our careers, our credibility and our reputation by speaking out. Labelled promiscuous beings deserving of violence, we are told that our cuts and bruises mean nothing if aimed at those with gentle faces, and high followings. But not anymore. We have stayed quiet, and never went public. But not anymore. We tried to do this privately and found ourselves unheard. But not anymore.
So this is my open letter to you, Dance Music Industry. My colleagues, my allies, my friends.
In the last weeks we have seen our community divided. Wilful ignorance, slut shaming and a mistrust of victims testimonies in the face of systematic and rampant abuse has left many of us questioning if those founding values of love and freedom that we all came for, have finally been lost to a status quo which allows for an abuse of power, which encourages it, glorifies it even. There are predators in OUR scene- and this must not be tolerated any longer.
We can no longer excuse the behavior of high profile artists because they are high profile anymore. That is corruption. Sexual harassment, assault and rape can no longer be accepted. Not in our culture, not in our places of work, not inside our venues, festivals or after parties. And if for a moment my friend you think that you are not as responsible as I or any other to combat this and protect your friends, myself, or each other, then you are definitely no friend of music.
We can no longer turn a blind eye to this. We must speak out. We must be vocal because we are all accountable. A lack of action in the face of corruption, abuse and violence is a tearing down of the very values which this industry is founded on, and is nothing more than being complicit.
This new era, and post-corona world has allowed us the opportunity of a blank slate. And it is time to decide what that will look like. And this is the time to decide which side of history we are on.
I’m asking you to be on the right side of history with me. Sign the petition, tell a friend, we’re calling for the Dance Music Industry to change. We’re demanding that they sign The #ForTheMusic pledge which:
- Ensures artists, employees and audiences are protected against sexual harassment.
- Guarantees employees of the industry a safe workplace.
- Demands artists and performers to end the culture of silence, be allies and to speak out when they witness sexual harassment happening
- Holds clubs accountable for ensuring a safe space for performers, employees and audiences free from sexual harassment.
Together, we can bring the Dance Music Industry back to its roots.
So here I am my friend. I am the person of colour behind the decks, the woman in the front row. I am the LGBQT person conducting the show- performing in the middle of the room, and the migrant woman behind the scenes.
And today, I’m writing this letter to you, to ask you to be my friend. To stand up for me. For us. If not for me, then please do it #ForTheMusic
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