This article was published in December on CDM.
We’re sitting outside in front of a wooden house with a bar and two dancefloors inside, where our Meetup takes place this evening. The June sun is setting as today’s attendees slowly gather, some coming directly from work, some refreshing themselves with a lemonade or a beer. When me and the other three Meetup co-organizers, Aiko, Bianca, and Yulka, decide that there’s enough of us (usually about half an hour after the official start), we get started with our discussion part, which is female-identified and LGBTQ-only.
First, we introduce each other one by one. Of course, if someone would want to stay anonymous, that’s fine, too. We say our name, specify if we go by she, they, or another pronoun if necessary, and explain what brought us to the Meetup. You’d be surprised: the reasons vary a lot, along with attendees’ occupations, interests, and a level of professional experience. This time, we have a rapper and singer/songwriter who are doing degrees in electronic music production, a scientist who likes making instruments in her spare time, a DJ who works in a museum, a young girl who just started thinking about VJing, a woman who realized she’s David Bowie and needs to follow her destiny… the mix is always unique and wonderful.
After the introduction round, we all go inside to start the discussion. This time, our topic is upcoming music festivals and gender issues connected to them. Our guest Anna from the Berlin edition of Mira Festival introduces the event, then we dive into the fact that the lineup of musicians is all male, and try to figure out why is this so often the case and whether all-female festivals help the issue.
Some attendees make interesting points, some share their personal experience or opinion, and the discussion eventually branches to other topics related to event-organisation, festival and party policies and other things that have been occupying people’s minds. When we feel like we’ve said it all, and we see that people would prefer chatting in smaller groups or just enjoying some music, the party / musical part starts, around 9pm. From this time on, everyone is welcome and encouraged to join and party as an audience, as long as they keep it friendly and respectful – we do have male audience enjoying the music performances.
This time, Sissip, a musician, singer, songwriter, and recently also a producer, starts her solo show. She joined us in May for the Ableton edition of the Meetup, where we talked about creative processes and some shared their music productions. Sissip herself didn’t bring any music then, but she sang on the spot and mentioned she’d just started working with Ableton. And tonight, only one month later, she’s singing and performing her live set here!
The next act is multi-genre talent Juliane Wolf, who performs a captivating acid live set. And then we have DJs Kat Tat Tat and MS Elbe, who spin their groovy and deep house records, making it almost impossible not to dance (well in my case, at least). At the end of the Meetup, I feel thankful for having the possibility of co-organizing this event, as I see new possible friendships or partnerships, people being inspired by what has been said today and some new fans of this evening’s artists.
Meetup is a team organizational effort. There’s Aiko Okamoto, alias Mo Chan — a VJ, DJ, and artist. Bianca Ludewig is a cultural studies scholar doing her PhD in transmedia festivals and teaching about electronic music and pop culture, as well as a hosting a radio show as Jukebox Utopia. Jessie is a graffiti writer and a DJ. I eventually joined in because of Bianca, after she persistently encouraged me to. And so did Yulka Plekhanova, a VJ (Optic Veil and an event organizer for many years in the US and now in Berlin.
Since May, the organizing team was pretty much the four of us (Bianca, Aiko, Yulka, me), with help of Anja Weber aka Mila Chiral, a dancer, choreographer, musician, and a member of Minutektiv, who is in charge of the Ableton editions of the Meetup. We also get support from friends like Akkamiau, DJ Isa Wolff, Sissip, Donna Maya (a musician and a certified Ableton teacher) and many more, who join regularly, perform, DJ, take photos, and show us support. In December, we welcomed Anja, Isa and Elie Gregory (Strip Down) to the organisation team of the Meetup, because the more minds, hands and hearts, the better.