Add Event My Events Log In

Upcoming Events

    Music

    Print this page

    On a warm May evening at Decca in NuLu, a smattering of late-night patrons situated around the minimalist main floor dining room finish their dessert courses and last swigs of white wine. From the depths of the spiral staircase in Decca’s entryway, a faint, persistent drum beat slinks up to draw people down into the belly of the party monster. Soft orange and pink lights envelop the cellar space, and the drum beat fills in with soulful bass lines and pulsing brass.

    At the head of the natural stone-walled room, behind two turntables and crates of records, are Kim Sorise and Lisa Foster of the Spinsters Union of Louisville. This new DJ collective, created by Sorise and co-founder Sara Alice Wood, is looking to shake up the nightlife norms in the River City.

    Why? Louisville nightlife has a patriarchal problem. On any given night of the week, it’s easy to find a DJ spinning at a bar, music venue or house party. Harder to locate is a DJ of the female, queer or gender-nonconforming variety. But they are out here — and ready to be heard.

    “I travel across the country for work, and noticed in each city that the visibility just isn’t there for non-cisgender male DJs — and that’s not cool,” Wood says. “By the numbers, female and gender-nonconforming DJs are booked at a rate at one-sixth of their male-identified counterparts. It’s a traditionally male-dominated industry with a strong networking component. And in the case of late-night gigs, there is a safety component as well. But what if all of that could change?”

    On New Year’s Eve 2017, it started to. That’s when Sorise met Wood while DJ-ing at Nouvelle Bar & Bottle in NuLu. “We were both interested in building something to empower women and non-binary individuals,” Sorise says. Within a couple of weeks, they had a meeting with their first six members.

    The Spinsters Union of Louisville currently has 15 active members who meet monthly to discuss upcoming and potential events, pay equity, negotiating techniques and much more. You might have heard of higher-profile members DJ S.Y.I.M.O.N.E, DJ Samosa, Cave DWLR, DJ Bombshell and Blythe of the Ball. Sorise doesn’t disclose membership dues, but emphasizes that they are manageable. She also notes that all the dues are fed back into the union collective for support.

    Many of the Spinsters’ events are hosted by more than one DJ, something that Scz — another Spinsters Union member — appreciates. “I think one thing that is often invisible for folks that come to events or see a DJ spinning in a bar or restaurant is the tremendous amount of backend work it takes to make it happen,” they tell me. “For me personally, I think it’s really helpful to have another DJ on hand at events to (collaborate with) and troubleshoot.”

    Foster, who owns Guestroom Records in the Clifton neighborhood, echoes the importance for camaraderie and inclusivity. “Spinsters is important because it’s disrupting that trend of male exclusivity and connecting the incredibly strong and talented women and gender-nonconforming folks who are active creators of Louisville music to one another. This is absolutely my favorite part: sociality and solidarity.”

    The Spinsters Union of Louisville is also making a conscious effort to emphasize the importance of intersectionality within the female and gender-nonconforming spheres. “I think the world of DJ-ing, production and late-night gigs mirror a lot of the problems we see in our larger world,” Scz says. “Spaces are created for and structured by white supremacy, patriarchy, male dominance, cis-het values, femme hate and capitalism. So, there is a lot of marginality that exists in trying to be a DJ who is a woman, femme, non-binary, person of color or queer body. ... So inclusion needs to be a radical assertion of reorienting what is at the center and what we give value to.”

    Sorise agrees, adding, “When our trans and gender nonconforming members perform, I think that opens up a much greater and necessary level of inclusion and empowerment. All too often, women and gender-nonconforming DJs are seen as novelties and not considered as good as their male counterparts. The Spinsters wants to work to change that. I know I never want to hear ‘She's a great DJ — for a woman’ ever again. We want to be great DJs because we have impeccable musical tastes, solid skill and can throw a badass party.”

    Since forming in January 2018, the Spinsters Union has cultivated a roster of spaces where its members can share their music with the community. Decca has been an early champion of the Spinsters and acts as their home base. You can also catch Spinsters on Mai Tai Monday nights at The Limbo downtown.

    There’ll be Spinsters Union outside this summer, too. The annual Kentuckiana Pride Festival on June 15 and 16 will feature DJ S.Y.I.M.O.N.E, Ghouligan and Scz. You’ll also find Spinsters at Forecastle this year — Ghouligan, Cave DWLR, DJ Bombshell, DJ Samosa and DJ Alli will all perform at the “Party Cove.”

    For Wood, the collective isn’t a way to exclude anyone of any gender, race or sexual orientation. Rather, it’s a way to bring everyone together and engender inclusivity — while still promoting the need for female and gender-nonconforming voices.   

    “We started the Spinsters Union of Louisville to provide local DJs community, support, awareness and power,” she says. “It’s easy to skip over one or two of us, but there are several members in the union now, and we are here to shake things up and inspire future generations of diverse musical perspectives where gender is not a pre-qualifier for success.”

    To learn more about the Spinsters Union of Louisville and find out where to see them perform, visit their website at spinstersunion.com.

    Cover photo: Pexels

    Share On:

    Michael Jester's picture

    About Michael Jester

    Just a boy, standing in front of the internet, asking it to love me.

    More from author:

    Upcoming Events

      Subscribe to this podcast in iTunes or RSS

      Event Finder

      Louisville Tickets