Jane Walker and Jackie Pelle

2001, 47:30 minutes, colour, English


The realm of DJs, dance clubs and dance music has always been hidden from the everyday world. Experimenting with new identities and lifestyles, people forced out on the margins could find space to escape, dance and feel free. Within this already marginalized subculture, however, there still exists the same prejudices and stereotyping that plagues the rest of society with regard to women. More recently, Toronto has emerged as a hub of the dance music scene, attracting international acts, and women are breaking round here as musicians, promoters, and producers and especially as DJs, the people who are at the heart of a scene that is a microcosm of our world in the 21st century. Spinsters gives insight into the contemporary sexual/cultural politics that surround female DJs. We sit down with several top up-and-coming DJs as personal stories reveal love and struggle. Spinsters details the obstacles that women are overcoming to be taken seriously in a realm that is embraced by millions of people around the world.

Spinsters was shot in a combination of live action shots of DJs playing to audiences in clubs and raves as well as at radio stations and practicing at home. Traditional interviews with DJs and promoters, both male and female, have been intercut with the live footage. This structure allows for a variety of possibly contradicting points to emerge, as well as evoking an atmospheric representation of the environment in which these women work.

Women talk about their past, musical background, how they got started, attitudes of other (male and female) DJs, their relationships to the technology required for the job, about how they select their music and what hurdles they have had to overcome as women. We also talk to promoters and producers about how they feel about the influx of women DJs in the club scene. The interviewer is not on camera, allowing subjects to speak for themselves.

The style of shooting is hand held and mobile while remaining as noninvasive as possible. We examine what types of music women play and how audiences respond to it and the the fact that it's being presented by a female. Professional DJs were engaged to formulate the final soundtrack with the help of our music supervisor, a DJ and music promoter herself.

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