It's easy to get pissed off, as someone who's a critical thinker with an empathetic personality, about the stalled/retrograde state of gender equality in our country.
From the embarrassment of continued unequal pay for equal work to the politicized debacle of women's health care and the increasingly disturbing portrayal of women in media — we live in a time that, hopefully, my 2-year-old daughter's generation will look back upon with a wince.
But that gesture should be accompanied by a salute to those who find creative and non-violent methods of battling outward systemic misogyny. Claudia Saenz, the 26-year-old founder of Chulita Vinyl Club, is, in her own joyful way, a part of this battle. I caught up with Saenz over the phone from her home in Austin to chat about the origin and aims of this all-girl, all-vinyl DJ club that looks to bring women to the booth.
What is Chulita Vinyl Club? Talk a bit about the story and motivations behind it.
"Chulita Vinyl Club is, as I like to call it, a movement. It's a movement that I recently launched – an all-girl, all-vinyl DJ club where the focus is on bringing girls to the front in the male-dominated DJ/club scene. We only book female DJs and we play our favorite records to celebrate women who love vinyl. It started because I had always wanted to DJ and I have plenty of music on vinyl, so last fall I got this idea. I mean, nobody ever asks girls to DJ because the assumption is that girls aren't vinyl collectors and they really don't know music that well or have a deep understanding of it. And at all the clubs, everyone from the bouncers to the bartenders to the bands and DJs are predominantly male. I just want to break these assumptions about women and bring them to the front. At first it started as an idea for a monthly night at Hi-Tones, but I soon realized that would limit the concept too much."
Who can join the club and how does that work?
"I want to make this a multicity project. We have girls from all over the world interested in joining or just showing support. The outpouring of positive response to this movement has been incredible. We are functioning out of Austin, but this is a multicity, eventually multicountry club. To join, you must identify yourself as a girl and other than that you just have to have vinyl to play. It's definitely a no-boys-allowed club. If I can do anything to empower women, even on a small scale, it can help us move forward. As women, we are all in this together. I hope that girls who have always dreamed of DJ-ing will use this as motivation and we can open up this space for women."
Hailing from the Rio Grande Valley, Saenz is an Austin resident who identifies with San Antonio as a second home. So we can expect a heavy Chulita presence here, even though the recent Austin premiere night proved a huge success. The whole point is that Saenz wants this project to reach as many people as possible.
On Saturday night, Saenz will be repping the Chulita flag as a guest of the Alamo City Soul Club at their Smile Now, Cry Later Valentine's Day dance. She'll be spinning tejano, oldies and tons of soul music to help set the mood. This will come a day after the Chulita girls help out local experimental musician Saakred, as she attempts to raise funds for her upcoming album Make Believe at the "Love Me to Death" pre-Valentine's Day show at Hi-Tones.
As far as general musical content, the club, which currently has 13 active ATX/SA DJs, spins a bit of everything, depending on the individual DJs' taste and the particular show they are playing. As Saenz put it, "Chulita Vinyl Club stems from women's empowerment, specifically seeking to break barriers in a male-dominated DJ scene and, on a larger scale, in a male-dominated society. All our girls play the music that they love, because that's what it's about. Chulita Vinyl Club is a movement that exists to bring the girls to the front."
Alamo City Soul Club feat Chulita Vinyl Club
$3, 9pm Sat, Feb 14, Hi-Tones, 621 E. Dewey, (210) 785-8777