CHICA, URBAN MUSIC IS FOR EVERYONE

If you’re a woman or a member of the LGBTQI community you’ve most likely experienced nights where you haven’t felt entirely safe at a club, especially if it was an urban music night, a scene that is dominated by men, as many others are. DJs Rocío Torres, Alba Loughlin, and Flaca know this too well, and that’s why they have created the collective CHICA, whose goals are to give visibility to female DJs and create safe spaces through CHICA, a party that is held in Madrid, but has also come to Barcelona. CHICA’s an unprecedented party, with a lineup that has no presence of cishetero men, in which you can appreciate genres like reggaeton and trap and even pop and R&B, that has also had artists such as Princess Nokia between their attendees.

First of all, can you clear this doubt for me: is the collective called Chica Gang and are the parties you organise called CHICA? Or as a collective, you’re also called CHICA?

The name of the collective is CHICA, but everyone ends up calling us CHICA Gang because that is the name of our Instagram page.

Let’s leave it at CHICA then and let’s start the introductions, who are Rocío Torres and Alba Loughlin? What drove you to start DJing in the beginning and how did you meet each other? You were three people before, right? What happened to Marta?

Rocío’s a 21-year-old singer, DJ, promoter and student from Madrid who has been working on art and feminism-related projects ever since she was 16. Alba’s a 21-year-old DJ and student from Madrid who has been DJing and organising the CHICA parties for almost two years now. The two of us knew each other a long time ago through Instagram and we became friends in 2015. A year later, Rocío came up with the idea of CHICA and that’s how we took it off the ground. We started because a friend of ours asked us to DJ at the after party of a concert, and after having many problems and being helped by several friends of ours, we jumped in and we went for it, having no clue of what we were doing. In CHICA we used to be four girls, ourselves, Flaca and Marta who wasn’t DJing, but she was working as part of the work team. Marta decided to quit for personal reasons, but she’s still one of our best friends and is always down to help us with anything.

What drove you to actually create CHICA and at what point in time did Sofía Conti (Flaca) join you?

CHICA came up when we realised that all parties and concerts which we attended were created by and for men, and so we thought that we could give visibility to women and LGBTQI people by creating spaces where they could have the leading role. Sofía joined us because Rocío knew her from Instagram and in a party they met each other and so we decided to ask her, and from the get-go, she thought it was a great idea and she was the one who helped us set things in motion.

What does CHICA mean to each of you?

Alba: CHICA’s our small contribution to change the world, starting by what we have closer to us, giving an opportunity to girls and people who are part of the LGBTQI community. You don’t have to be a cishetero man to be able to create or achieve something. If we support each other we can continue to create spaces to keep learning and growing.
Rocío: CHICA represents the ability of women and LGBTQI people to create incredible things through hard work, experience and suffering, and its result will always be something that can help another person’s fight for survival. Thanks to CHICA I’m able to do things that I never imagined myself being able of doing, for me its represents not having any fears, confronting everything and taking the world by storm.

Would you like to use your platform for other endeavours in the future? Maybe for organising talks, or combining other artistic disciplines developed by women and the LGBTQI community?

We have several projects in the making and we believe that it’s time for us to have a larger audience and for younger women to get to know us. We’ll tell you everything soon enough!

One of CHICA’s objectives is to create safe spaces, how do you achieve this?

The fact that our lineup’s comprised of women and LGBTQI people already deters a largely male audience from our parties. There are many men, within the urban and also pop, rock or techno scenes, that don’t feel comfortable when the person who’s behind the turntables isn’t a cishetero man, so that helps with the safe space. We also try to punish any sexist actions or attitudes, which is why we end up kicking out many men who are being bothersome at the parties. But it’s still very hard in the society we live in to create 100% safe spaces, however, we’re learning and each time we have a firmer hand.

What changes must happen in the night industry, and generally-speaking the music industry, not only to bring awareness to the work of women but also to create more respectful environments?

Tons of things need to change, we’re still figuring out which is the most effective way to create a safe space, but the first step is, as we’ve said before, to have people who aren’t given enough visibility on stage and to invite them to the dance floor. It would be nice if more women worked in clubs and we had a protocol like the one from No Callem in Barcelona. Basically, to bring awareness to the work of women, we need to blow it up, put it in big block letters everywhere and PAY THEM. Exposure isn’t worth anything if you can’t afford to keep doing what you do. We continue to say it, as we say it everywhere: PAY THE GIRLS.

You’ve brought Bossy LDN to your parties, two DJs who came from London to Madrid. Is bringing CHICA to other countries something you’ve given much thought? Exporting CHICA to other cities outside of here?

We would obviously love to visit other countries. Right now we’re taking CHICA to other cities in Spain, but we’d love to go abroad too.

What do you feel when you see people as big as Princess Nokia coming to your party? Do you have any dream celebrity who you’d like to bring to your gigs?

It’s amazing, it’s such an honour for us and it’s something we had never imagined could happen. We’d die to bring Kelela, SZA, Rico Nasty or Ian Isaiah but, of course, it’s a ton of money, and so if they’d want to come to the party as audience and take the mic from us, they’re totally invited to do that (laughs).

Which DJs, producers or artists should be in our radar?

Alvva, La Diabla, Fearz, Selectya Glossy, Aleesha, Brava, Akasha Kid, Tierra Whack, RIMON, Alicai Harley, A.G, Lyzza, Lechuga Zafiro, Merca Bae, Summer Walker, Celeste, Ikram Bouloum, Julietta Ferrari, and so many others that we’re leaving behind…

When’s CHICA #8 happening? And what can we expect from the next edition?

Well, we still can’t reveal the date or the venue, but it will be in a couple of months, or maybe even before that. These next two months we’ll be in different Spanish cities, so, stay posted! On Sunday the whole gang will be together at the design market, Matadero, from 1 to 3 pm. Come and see us!

Tell us what are your not-so-distant future plans.

We can’t reveal much, yet, but basically, to keep working on making space for women, to give them tools so that they can do whatever they want to do, to defend spaces and reclaim what’s ours. And make people dance during the process, of course.

Shoes REEBOK AZTREK.
Sweatshirts PUMA X SANKUANZ.
  • Photography: Ana Alborés