We can do it
On Friday, June 5, Shea’s Tavern, the perennial winner of Best Dive Bar in this newspaper’s readers’ poll, hosted an event called The Dirty Party: Filthy Songs Nobody Else Will Let Us Play But Shea’s.
“It went great,” said Heidi Adkins, who, under the nom de guerre Heidalicious, was one of the evening’s DJs. “It was all raunchy songs—stuff you can’t play at any regular bar, but at Shea’s, you can play anything.”
She focused primarily on hip-hop, playing filthy sex rhymes by rappers like Too Short and Danny Brown. Local sex toy shop Adam & Eve sponsored the party, and raffled off a music-powered vibrator.
Adkins is also spearheading an event called We Can Do It Wednesdays, a monthly educational workshop for women who want to learn how to DJ. The first event will be on June 17 at 1up, 214 W. Commercial Row, the dance club that Adkins describes as “the foundation of electronic music in Reno.” For $10, participants can learn how to use a mixer, loop tracks, match beats and other DJ skills. The workshop will be from 7 to 10 p.m., followed by an after-party with an all-female DJ lineup. Adkins said she anticipated half a dozen participants, but 40 have already registered.
She said that DJ-ing is a male-dominated industry, which can alienate some women who would otherwise be interested. She said it was intimidating the first time she DJ-ed at a club a few years ago.
“I came in and it was a bunch of younger boys, playing video games on their phones, all huddled around their phones. And I felt so awkward, just coming into this boys’ environment. And a lot of girls feel that way. It’s just not something they can get into, even though a lot of my female friends have amazing taste in music. They would love it. They just don’t know how to get started.”
She said it can be inspirational just to see other women behind the decks. She cited seeing Ana Sia, a Los Angeles-based DJ, who comes to Reno regularly, as very inspirational.
“This was before I was a DJ, and I was just amazed at her style and how she kind of controlled the environment of the whole evening,” said Adkins. “It was just cool to see that she could do that. … Usually, people starting DJ-ing, they’re younger and they’re male. It just inspired me.”
She said other well-known local female DJs, like Teagan Thais and Georgette Crush, will also be participating in the event at 1up. There will be Jameson-flavored cupcakes and T-shirts that read “fuck ladies night.” This is to emphasize that the event is an educational workshop, and not the typical club ladies’ night.
“It’s not really like, ’look at all these hot girl DJs for all you boys,’ like ladies’ night usually is—it’s pretty condescending,” she said.
Adkins and her husband, Ed, own Let’s Do Things, a special events production company that puts on most of the big bar crawl events around town, like the upcoming Superhero Crawl on July 18.
She’s comfortable DJ-ing to a variety of audiences, including the more traditional dance clubbers at 1up and the rockers, tattoo artists and hip-hop heads at Shea’s. She’s even stretched out to perform at Burning Man-affiliated events, where the crowds generally expect upbeat dance music. For those sets, she’ll start with electronic music.
“I kind of lure people in a little bit, and as soon as I get them moving and dancing and liking the sounds—I play stuff with weird sounds and experimental type stuff—and then I’ll throw in a hip-hop song, and it’s pretty cool, because they would not normally listen to this music.”
Playing at Shea’s, she said, requires the opposite approach. “I have to go from a crowd that normally wants to hear songs they can sing along to, and then I throw on some dark, cool, whompy electronic stuff, and usually they’re like, ’Wow, that’s so cool.’ … I didn’t think I would do well at Shea’s, because it’s usually kind of a rock crowd, but if I play really offensive stuff, they love it.”