Hands off, music dudes | Opinion | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST

Hands off, music dudes

I am not an ungrateful bitch who can't stand human interaction. I am a frustrated female receiving unsolicited physical contact.

click to enlarge Hands off, music dudes
Dana was raised in a family bluegrass band and spent many childhood moments at festivals and concerts. She now leads the team producing and programming In the Dead Of Winter. She’s also the lead singer/band leader of Hello Delaware, and runs Golden Bay Promotions out of her home in Halifax.

Allow me to set the scene: I work on the industry side of music. While being introduced in a line with my male co-workers, hands are extended. Jovial “good to meet you” and other pleasantries are exchanged. And then it comes to me. My boss is great at introducing me, which I appreciate wholeheartedly, but then there’s a pause, an “Oh, hello” and the stranger on the other side of my outstretched hand goes in for a full-on hug. (Or comments on my hair.)

Why? How did we get here?

What about me screams “PLEASE HUG ME?” I don’t smile often. I don’t give off happy, positive vibes. I don’t offer hugs to strangers. And yet at conferences and festivals, men will constantly hug me. I am not an ungrateful bitch who can’t stand human interaction. I am a frustrated female receiving unsolicited physical contact. Why do men hug ME after shaking my male counterparts hands?

Tiny (or blaringly large) faux pas like this lace our scene and we constantly gloss over those that don’t affect us directly (dudes, hi). We have to stop ignoring the little details that make our industry so backwards. We can no longer have all-male lineups. We can no longer have all-white lineups. We can no longer have all-hetero lineups. These things won’t be tolerated. Or at the very least, shouldn’t be tolerated. Sticking one woman, one trans or one person of colour in a line-up does not get you an automatic checkmark on diversity.

It seems that our industry only wants to see as far as the surface when it comes to buying and booking music. Tokenism is not diversity. Diversity isn’t about choosing bands just for their lack of white dudes. I shouldn’t have to explain this to people who have been in this business for longer than I’ve been alive, but I do. Research is the key to success in any industry. Seeking out new and interesting acts is the key to diversifying our scene. Every industry, especially one that thrives on creativity, requires innovation. Creating space and accessible opportunities for marginalized communities is the only way to move our industry away from this all-white, all-dude, all-straight narrative.

Now is the time to be more aware. This is the time to stand up and say, “This isn’t good enough,” because we all know it isn’t. If our venue owners, bookers, managers, agents and festivals can’t work on being more diverse and less sexist, and if our concert goers and music buyers don’t start demanding it, we will die here on the east coast.

So, stop hugging me without permission. Stop treating me like I’m an object, here primarily to attract the male gaze. Instead, let’s start talking about what I bring to the table.


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