Chicago is a hub to all different genres of people, culture, and music. With its renowned venues and rich historical background, this city has continued to significantly impact and change the electronic music culture. As up-and-coming generations of women and gender-expansive DJs begin to grow in the city, they are beginning to reshape the landscape and push the boundaries of electronic music.
Beginning in the 80’s at one of Chicago’s most famous venues, The Warehouse, electronic music began to blossom and waver its way through the unstoppable nightlife of this Midwestern city. Known today as The Music Box, the Warehouse is a three-story factory that was built to be a nightclub and established in 1977. The Warehouse was a huge attraction for Latino and Black gay men, as they were often the largest crowds to stop by. Legendary Chicago DJs, such as Ron Hardy and Frankie Knuckles have paved a way for people to enjoy and experience live electronic music at the Warehouse and other clubs throughout the city.
It is evident that the electronic music scene, like many other creative industries, has been historically dominated by male figures. However, in Chicago, a new generation of DJ’s have dismantled these barriers by showcasing their originality and artistic skills. Today, many women and non-binary DJ’s have begun to challenge these preconceived notions, proving that talent knows no gender or identity boundaries.
With these native Chicago DJ’s breaking through into the industry, they have started to establish their presence and elevate the electronic music scene. Many women and gender-expansive DJs have utilized their platforms to implement a fresh and diverse range of sounds into the genre, while also creating tracks that resonate on a deeply personal level.
Alisso Jo is a Chicago native who was looking for a creative outlet at a younger age and began to DJ as a hobby. Realizing that it was like an art form and a way of expressive therapy, she and her team started to host live DJ yoga sessions at Deep House Yoga. The events are conceptualized in a way where attendees can immerse themselves into a world of emotion and expression. Jo also broadens her practices and extends her message of support by donating a percentage of her events to various organizations, such as the Chicago Women’s Foundation, who focus on creating opportunities and resources for women in need around the Chicago area.
Another artist who has helped shape and transform the city’s electronic music scene is Trqpiteca, an artist duo and production company whose music is a combination of tropical and warm house music that aligns with queer aesthetics. Made up of La Spacer and Cqqhifruit, both are Latinx individuals who are a part of the queer community and leaders among communities of LGBQT+ activists in Chicago. Mixing their own cultural backgrounds with their gender identities has empowered them to expand electronic music from the North Side of Chicago to the South Side. Trqpiteca’s platform is all about giving various communities the opportunity to feel warmth and connection in their spirits through their music.
Chicago's electronic music scene is experiencing a transformative shift, thanks to the rise of women and non-binary DJs who are redefining the industry's tapestry. These individuals are not only challenging gender norms but also bringing fresh perspectives, innovative sounds, and a new sense of unity. As we move forward, it's crucial to continue championing diversity and representation, ensuring that the future of Chicago's electronic music remains as dynamic and inclusive as ever.
Who are other women & gender-expansive electronic artists in Chicago that you love? Drop your favorites in the comments below!
Written by Jacqueline Fermin
Edited by Nan Macmillan