I am an international woman (cape optional) and I have my own day. Literally. My birthday is the 8th March, this year my 50th (how the disco did that happen?) and I’d like to think that women across the world have only one thing on their minds as they gather to celebrate and campaign. Okay, maybe not, but sharing my celebrations on a day when women worldwide are rightfully hailed warriors has always been a blessing.
As IWD19 campaigns for #BalanceforBetter, I shall be thanking my lucky female stars for the women who have inspired me throughout my 50 years, balancing the tables with talent that has forever changed my life. From my single parent mother raising two girls by the seaside in the seventies, working against the tide to defy the prejudice and the hardship, to Mrs Hill the English teacher who guided me towards the genius of Jane Austen, Harper Lee, Margaret Atwood and Alice Walker, my childhood was modelled on the finest of roles.
Come the early 90s and my life in the disco began because of one inspirational DJ. A woman called Vicki Edwards, whose residencies at The Fridge, Heaven and Bad alongside her generosity and encouragement, ensured this wannabe DJ would soon see her Venus Rising. Without her there would be no Shameless Hussies, the Brighton women-only club night I co-founded with Tiz Cartwright for Lesbian Strength’s Brighton Pride celebrations back in 1992. Without her there would be no connection with designer and DJ Meesh Mash or a certain Queen Josephine. Without Vicki, my queer life’s journey would never have detoured so deliciously thanks to a shameless bang on a bongo by my soon to be regal missus.
My DJ career over the past 30 years has been forever inspired by the women I celebrate with every 12” I play. DJs Helene Stokes, Dulcie Danger, King K, Hollie, Maze & Masters, Suze Rosser, Sami Kubu, Kinky D, Slamma, Tula, Jackie B, DJ Philly, Meech Mash, Princess Julia, Lola, Lil Jo, Hayley Pons, Faro and more, each ensuring the groove the girls played cast a much-needed light through the male-dominated scene. Lights that continue to lead the way internationally today thanks to Honey Dijon, The Black Madonna, Kim Ann Foxman, Violet, Sophie Lloyd or the legendary Smokin’ Jo. Women who endured the “when your boyfriend comes back can you ask him to play…?” sexist requests for decades as they forged forward to deliver the equality we often thought would never come and sadly occasionally still have to fight for.
And then there are the radio days that came to me later in life; created by the finest family of women you could ever wish to meet in cramped, sweaty, air-free boxes. The rebels at Radio Reverb teaching me the broadcasting essentials as Kathy Caton, Ellie Dobing and Melita Dennett helped this vinyl obsessive find the words. The glories at 1BTN welcoming me to their bunker with a smile of appreciation and a desire to make a difference. Radio days inspired by nights listening under the covers to Annie Nightingale that set this Asperger’s lass free as she finally found a way to navigate life’s ever baffling social norms with a microphone.
For mine has been a fifty-year long queer life inspired by the people walking the path beside me. The clubbers, the promoters, the party people. The family, real or never pretend, that make this misfit from Essex finally feel at one with the neurotypical world. A life I’ve shared with words, tunes, rainbow moments and the odd f*** up but a life I’m proud of. In a city I’m even prouder of. So this IWD I will be raising a birthday glass to those superwomen (with optional capes obviously) that have inspired my fifty-year ride of a lifetime. The truly inspirational international women who have always lead the way. Long may they continue. I mean, who else is going to navigate as we multitask our way towards majestic status?
Tune into 1BTN International Women’s Day Takeover 101.4FM DAB+ and online 1btn.fm Friday 8th March 8am-12midnight. Then come shake a tail feather with the 1BTN IWD Soundsystem upstairs at Patterns with DJs Faro, Kerry Jean Lister, Jayne Winstanley, Suze Rosser and two birds called Wildblood and Queenie supporting Honey Dijon and Charles Green in the club downstairs. Saturday 9th March 8pm-4am. Free entry upstairs before 10pm. Ticketed entry only after 10pm. (Limited availability on the door). Fundraising for Threshold Women’s Services and The Girl’s Network.