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Spin Mistresses

DJ Donabelle


The Female DJ Craze

If you thought DJing was sole male turf, salve think again dude. Women DJs are out to banish that thought and put you in your place with their talent, skill and good looks. While they are doing it, they are also working very hard to ensure that there is more to them than sex appeal, says ETHEL DA COSTA.

I don’t wanna rock, DJ
But you’re making me feel so nice
When’s it gonna stop, DJ
Cause you’re keepin’ me up all night

So sang Robbie Williams to Rock DJ gyrating his booty to hot, bored girls who’ve seen better. In Goa, flip a coin and every corner lands a DJ, but hey we ain’t complaining. Instead, girdle your hips to the party scene this December, with a page from a typical night out: There’s a hip looking DJ pumping up the volume like a funked-out bat from hell, as bouncers nod their salute (happens with the A-list you see) and open the door to usher you into a smoke-filled booby trap that looks set to burst into flames (you’re advised not to wear inflammable hair gel). You take a deep breath of fresh air before you step in, because trust me, you are going to need it. Heat, sweat, carbon dioxide, cigarettes and endless taps of take-me-to-la-la land water flows at the bar. Faceless bodies fist pump the floor, back-less tops threaten a wardrobe malfunction, minis inch higher, single guys throw `let’s get lucky’ lines at anything walking in a skirt, even as semi-clad Russian chicks knock your brains off with jelly shots and no apologies. This is your quintessential Saturday night painting the town red.

Unlike other South Asian destinations, Goa does actually boast night spots where males and females are present in relatively equal proportion. However, until recently you’d be hard pressed to find a lady Disc Jockey. Like so many other fields, being a dude and being a DJ went hand in hand. But really, does that make sense? Is there any indication that the qualities that go into being a good DJ – charisma, rhythm, knowledge, talent – are the sole purview of the male gender? Not surprisingly, then, women have taken to the Pioneer as ducks to water, negotiating their way up center-stage.

Being a woman DJ is filled with excitement and challenges. Excitement because these days lady DJ’s are quite the draw, with nightclubs around Goa and India looking for unusual ways to attract a crowd and club goers showing particular enthusiasm for the shows of the fairer sex. Sure, that means that being a woman can actually be an advantage. However, the benefit comes with a challenge: proving that it’s not your pretty face that matters but your performance behind the console. Explains Bombay-based DJ Paroma Chatterjee, an up-and-coming DJ diva. “There’s no denying that women can often be taken for granted by men. But DJing is a dream job if you love it.”


DJ Paroma


There’s one Goan DJ who’s clearly been ahead of her time. A popular face on Goa’s nightlife circuit for the last 15 years, DJ Ayesha Pramanik adds much fashionable eyeballs not only to her spunky coloured hair and attitude, but to the tunes she spins with gusto. A livewire behind the console, and the perfect muse to headline the first edition of my Fashion Fridays Club Nite Series (May, at Butter), she had the floor and clubbers eating out of her hand till the wee hours of the morning. The encores were many. DJ Ayesha gets up close candid, “I think there are highs and lows in every profession. Music has always been my passion, and this is what I feel I do best … I’ve been a DJ when there were hardly two or three women in the music industry, as a DJ or as a Producer. It was difficult at that time. But nothing to complain about, as hardships only teach you to be stronger and better at your work and self.”

Going by her popularity quotient in Goa and Bangalore, she has undoubtedly earned her spot under the search lights. “Nobody said it’s going to be easy, so practice your talent well. No one can stop you, if you’re good. Be confident,” is Ayesha’s advice to all aspiring young DJs waiting in the woodwork.

A new girl on the block with just two years on the spin-masters, DJ Paroma Chatterjee is learning quick the tricks of her trade and the highs of being a woman DJ on the dance circuit. “It is a pure entertainment high,” she coos. “Women get to perform more often as a guest DJ than men, as there isn’t intense competition amongst women at all.” The low point, DJ Paroma asserts, “is the constant pressure to look presentable at all times, and at the same time deliver good performances.” Ok, so women DJs are taken at face value first!!? DJ Paroma quickly corroborates, “We Indians still need to open our minds up towards women being a part of the male-dominated industry. Only an artiste understands the `feel good’ factor when you overcome all these challenges. I believe it’s really hard for our older generation to accept this and for a lot of other women to actually put their foot down and take that huge risk.” Spoken like a true winner who looks beyond glamour and knows push from shove.

Home-grown, glamorous, hardworking, learning all her early moves spinning at local Goan clubs, DJ Donabelle, now based in Dubai, started DJing at 17, took a break because she wasn’t sure “whether I could consider it as a full time profession,” and let experience, maturity and understanding of the industry decide her future move. Result? This go-getter cookie has been spinning around the world for the last six years now.For sure it’s not easy if you’re doing it the right way, as there is always over or under-cutting in the business. Sometimes there are women in the industry who just do it for the fun of it, not realizing that they make it difficult for other women who have actually made it their profession,” says DJ Donabelle vociferously. Believing that unlike Europe where professionalism is respected and a way of business life, “In India, everything works on networking and `who knows who’ to get the right break at the right time in the right place. If one is not well in tune with the right trends and tracks, they are left behind in this race,” she shares.


DJ Teri Miko


Donabelle has moved up the ladder the hard way. “It is quite a challenge to keep the crowd going,” says this shaker for her gender. Her formula is 50% mixing, 50% crowd pleasing = 100% great DJ and assured future bookings. “This is a serious industry, so please don’t get into it just for the fun of it,” Donabelle rues. Which boldly translates to wannabes: `Girl, you won’t last long if you’re just happy being a pretty face.’ The Paris Hiltons of the world notwithstanding, this is actual work!

Any dream location for this Goan to do herself and Goa proud?  “Currently, I am traveling and playing in South East Asia between Thailand, Cambodia, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and definitely want to play in Japan. I would love to have the opportunity to play at more festivals in Goa and around the world. It is sad to see so many big events and festivals being hosted in Goa, but unfortunate to say that only one or two Goans are a part of it,” observes this DJ, who seems to have also read my mind. Here’s hoping talented Goan DJs fight harder to be part of the festival programming that use Goa as a venue.

And here’s a cautionary footnote for festival organizers or club owners looking for women DJs: We are more than just eye-candy, boys. So pay up and well for the skills we present. We can and do run head to shoulder, as equals, in an industry which is yet to pay its respects to women talent, however hard fought our spaces. Meanwhile, party hard and stay safe. We did warn you!!

`Quality, not Quantity matters in Music’

With a growing fan base in Goa, international artiste based in Ukraine DJ Teri Miko believes `Quality, not Quantity matters in Music.’


DJ is a Woman:  I think it’s incredible to be a woman DJ in the male dominated industry, because you get lots of attention from the crowd. But at the same time, there are so many people who look down on a woman DJ, but I do not care and ignore their attitude, because every day and every event of mine and thousands of women DJs across the world prove that a woman can be as professional as male DJs.

Far too few women DJs: I think it’s not about quantity, it’s about quality. I like some woman DJs in India like Ayesha Pramanik, Pearl, DJ Rink. I don’t think we should compare them to Europe because everyone has their own unique style.

The JOB never gets easier:  We have to work hard which I do every single day spending a lot of time in studio and working on my mixes. When I get an offer from an organizer, my first advice to them is to listen to my music, check my gig videos and not just my photo shoot, because I don’t like to compromise with my music. I think about setting a goal and follow it. I would like to contribute with my music.

Happy Memories: The Goa Beach Grind, South Goa, because I received the best energy from the 17,000 people at the festival. It will always be a good memory.

Next Goal: From here to Top 100. I would love to be part of Ultra Music Festival and Tomorrowland.

Aspiring Women DJs: I always advise women to get into this profession not because of fame and money, but to project yourself through music.

Writer Profile:

Ethel Da Costa is a Goa based acknowledged fashion, lifestyle, music writer, radio head, creative entrepreneur, commenter and columnist of all things politically and socially incorrect. A published poet-author of Eve’s Revenge: Stories of Nemesis (2008) with a second sequel in the making Eve’s Light: Stories of Passion (2014), she be reached at


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