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[Guest Post] The Girl Germs Guide to Starting a Feminist DIY Club Night

2013 January 23
  • Yet another guest post! We asked Lydia and Laura, the brains behind London feminist club night Girl Germs, to give us some tips about how it’s done. Do you have a guest post brewing in your brain? You know the drill: email us on [email protected].

Girl Germs is our DIY feminist, queer and trans* friendly club night, and soon-to-be record label. We started in 2008, as part of our university’s Feminist Week. We hired out the student union bar, and suddenly we had four bands booked. We had a lot of help from the staff at the union, and our friends in the Feminist Society blew up loads of balloons for us. And on the night, people turned up! To a club night that we arranged!

When we graduated, we decided that we wanted to do it again. We were a bit cautious, though, as suddenly we were dealing with real venues and it was just the two of us (and our friend Tukru, with her amazing zine distro). We put on several nights in Camden with no bands where we’d DJ for hours, sometimes getting our friends to help us out when we got tired. Our little venue was always full, and everybody left tired and sweaty.

Our latest hand-drawn flyer

Our latest hand-drawn flyer

But it was during the preparations for Ladyfest Ten that we plucked up the courage to put on another full-scale night with bands. We managed to put on three of our favourite bands and organise DJs, stalls and even cake. We’d somehow pulled it off again! The place was packed, and we were exhausted, but ecstatic.

The plan was to build on the success of that night, but mental health issues and a period of unemployment and geographical separation meant it was impossible. We’re back next month though, and more excited than ever.

We’ve learned a lot through running Girl Germs. But the biggest thing is: running a club night is easy. Most promoters don’t want you to know that, because they don’t want you to try it yourself. We’re poor, unsociable and uncool. We spend a lot of time talking to our cat. If we can do it, so can you.

You don’t need a lot of money

We both work really hard in low-paid jobs. We don’t have trust funds, or any disposable income to speak of at all, really. A night can be as expensive or cheap as you make it. There are very few upfront costs, because bands and venues can be paid on the night from your door takings. It’s also kind of a waste to spend loads of money on fancy flyers, because the most effective promotion now happens online through social media. We spend a little money on photocopying beforehand, but that’s about it.

You don’t need ‘connections’

To have connections, you’d probably need to network, and who wants to do that? We don’t have a little black book with useful emails in. We just write to bands we like and venues we think might want us, and ask nicely. It’s much easer that way, especially if you’re shy. Hell, we barely have the courage to speak to bands when they’re at Girl Germs ready to play.

You don’t need technical knowledge

DJing is easy, and the best way to learn is by doing. We learned on the job, and it never went that badly wrong. As well as that, bands will let you know what they need, and venues will understand their requests. Your job is to be the go-between. If you have any questions, bands and sound people are always happy to answer. That’s their job, after all. Generally venues will have most of the gear, and bands expect to bring extras themselves and sometimes share with other acts on the bill.

You don’t need to spend oodles of time on it

You won’t need to give up your day job to give yourself enough time to do this. We have very little free time in the evenings after work, but it’s enough to get things done.

In the lead-up, you’ll mainly be emailing people and drumming up support on Twitter and Facebook. If you have a smartphone, you can do this on the go (or under your desk at work). You might need an evening to write a press release, or an hour or so to set up a Facebook page and event, but it’s all manageable if you’re a little bit organised about it.

You won’t need to beg venues and bands to give you a chance

Venues need cub nights, and bands need gigs. People need somewhere to go for a dance on a Saturday night. These people aren’t doing you a favour, and most of them won’t act like they are. Venues have always been helpful and supportive to us, and bands have been excited to play. As long as you let people know what they’re doing and when, you’ll be fine.

So, there it is. Easy, huh?

We’d love more club nights to go to, run by like-minded people. Find your own theme, and give it a go. There’s almost nothing more satisfying than watching a room full of people dancing and knowing that you got them there.

If you want to know anything in more detail, or you have questions, you can email us at [email protected] and we’ll do our best to help.

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