Fem Fest 2024 Look Back: Sunflower DJ workshop

On March 9th during FEM FEST 2024 at WORM, a beginner’s DJ workshop took place, hosted by Operator resident Arrocha and DJ/programmer Krismika

The workshop focused on providing accessibility to women and nonbinary people. It was part of Sunflowers, an initiative by Rotterdam’s Operator Radio. Sunflowers encompasses workshops, panels, screenings and radio streams, with the aim of empowering and celebrating women and non-binary people within the music and cultural sectors. 

As a beginner, delving into DJing can be daunting. As someone who often curates playlists with jockey-potential but has always hesitated to step behind the decks, I can attest to this firsthand. Like many cultural domains, DJing can pose significant barriers to marginalised groups, who may struggle to find a space to play, or a space to learn – in which you don’t have to continually push to be seen and heard, or to have your time and space.  

The workshop’s emphasis on starting from the basics, delivered with such patience, care and inclusivity, felt important. 

The first half of the workshop was ‘theoretical’, a kind-of DJing for Dummies crash-course. Topics included selecting and handling music files, software basics, beat-matching, and demonstrations of Rekordbox usage. Ethical considerations in DJing were also discussed, such as supporting artists through proper music acquisition when downloading and playing their music.

The second half of the workshop was hands-on. We got in front of the decks and were shown our way around. What was originally a crowded cluster of knobs and buttons quickly transformed into a playground of possibility. Attendees were given the opportunity to have a go at a few of the basic things we’d learned, mixing a couple house tracks. 

What made the workshop truly special was its practical yet intersectional approach, fostering a core intention and atmosphere of inclusivity and collaboration. This approach permeated the workshop-space, even if not made explicit at all moments. It enabled that ‘playground’ atmosphere; a space of discovery and play, of comfort in being clumsy, of making mistakes, of mutual support.

Text by Elliot Waloschek 

Photography by Lucy Adams & Joao Pedrozo,  Elliot Waloschek