The ladies of Bay Area Sistah Sound know their place -- and it’s in the beat kitchen. The all female DJ crew (which includes DJ Zita, the legendary Pam the Funkstress and newest addition to the cast, DJ Similak Chyld) is celebrating its second anniversary at 111 Minna on Fri/2. It seemed like a good time to reflect with the women on their past two years.
A lot has changed around these parts since DJ Zita moved back to the Bay area after living for a spell in Hawaii. Upon her return to San Francisco, she found the famously inclusive city lacking on the female pride front. “I noticed the fact that the [hip hop DJ] scene was male dominated. There were a lot of women, but they were all doing their own thing. There was no solidarity.” Zita, a founding member of Sisters in Sound, the first all woman group of DJs on the islands, decided to change all that.
It's still true that when you go into a lot of the larger hip hop/R & B clubs in town these days, you’ll still encounter a dude heavy clientele. But the number of women-run groups and women-featured nights -- and no, we’re not talking about the Lusty Lady -- is on the rise. You’ve got Coo-yah Wednesdays at Paradise Lounge, with resident reggae spinners Daneekah and Green B, RRS Feed, Peaches at Skylark on Thursday nights, a funky -- a funky, souly, hip hop affair orchestrated by promoter Masaye Waugh, who formerly slung drinks at Everlasting B.A.S.S. when the party was at club 330 Ritch.
“I really love the B.A.S.S. party,” says Waugh. “That was right around when I was learning about what it means to be a female DJ in the business.” Later, Masaye texts me “I was so excited and inspired by [Everlasting B.A.S.S.] and it made me understand/appreciate more what I had gotten into. Have you seen Pam scratch with her boob? That’s a party!”
Waugh understands why more and more women are choosing to work together, B.A.S.S. style. “It’s that communal feeling of working with other women,” she says. That sentiment of solidarity was what led DJ Zita to round up Pam the Funkstress and DJ Neta, who has since left to pursue family life and a PhD, to form a mainland female DJ crew. “Pam [of activist hip hop duo The Coup] and Neta were veterans,” Zita tells me. “They’d been holding down for a minute.”
Zita started inviting female singers and B-girls to perform with them each month, and found they were able to spin their own kind of nightlife. “There’s more of a vibe of respect for women at our parties,” says Zita, whose B.A.S.S. crowds tend to be majority female.
The DJ is excited to see B.A.S.S.'s contribution to women run nightlife in the city. “We’re inspiring other female DJs to come out,” says Zita, who had to upgrade from last year’s anniversary space to two room 111 Minna in order to accommodate B.A.S.S.’s growing fan base and lineup (eighteen woman DJs will be featured on Friday).
So what does year three hold for the ladies of B.A.S.S.? The addition of DJ Similak Chyld, for one. Similak, whose also scratched with Future Primitive Sound, had never been in an all female project before, and initially had some hesitations. But after having done some shows with the crew, she's noticed some upsides to a gender specific crowd. "There's no dudes that are there just to gawk," the diminutive DJ says. "If there's so many women, they tend to just shut the fuck up." Plus, it's a chance to spin with some women she's looked up to for awhile. "Zita called me [to ask me to be a part of B.A.S.S.]- who calls people anymore? I remember being humbled and blown away. I mean, I saw Pam's shows over ten years ago!"
Zita says future plans include the continued expansion of B.A.S.S.'s lineup, as well as global takeover. "We'd like to start touring beyond the Bay- down to Southern California, across the country, or... world tour! It's going to be exciting to see what 2010 brings."
Everlasting B.A.S.S. Two Year Anniversary
Fri/2 9 p.m., $5-20
111 Minna, SF