gigmit: 2020 is probably one of the most difficult years ever for the event & DJ industry. How are you getting by?
Linda: Yes, it is not easy. Right after our launch, we were booked until 2021 but with the lockdown came the cancellations. We were shocked at first! We noticed though that there still was a great demand for “dancing”. So, we started a series of digital parties. Every other Friday the Female Music Force community celebrates on the digital dancefloor via ZOOM. We organize female DJs and also vocal acts from all over Germany, are getting to know amazing women from the music scene and are thrilled by the creativity and joy of the fellow dancers from Berlin to Belgium, Portugal to Nairobi, France to Texas.
What drives you? Does it also bring financial benefits?
The parties are completely free of cost. Everyone should be able to dance along. Dancing and singing bring joy and connection! And that is our main motivation: to spread the joy because we all need it urgently and I think that it is also our obligation as DJs to make people happy with music and parties.
We do receive donations. Of course, this is not comparable to the turnover we would have had in “normal times”. So we have to work on other things to keep ourselves financially above water. But it’s good that we are building a community, that many people are getting to know our work and are booking us for parties after Covid.
How exactly do digital parties work?
Everyone who wants to dance with us registers to our guest list with their name and email address. Since we all celebrate from our private apartments, we want to know who we are dancing with. The registration is free of charge. The registered guests receive the information about the party of the week via email with a link and password for the ZOOM room. On the digital dancefloor, we see everyone, not only the DJ.
Many of them prepare for the party with disco lights, a fun outfit and a favourite drink. It’s important to get yourself good sound, even as a guest. To connect the streaming device to the speakers or the TV or if you’re celebrating alone, to use headphones. Some of our guests celebrate with the whole family. Some are alone, but everyone sees each other, they dance together, toast each other, chat with each other. It almost feels like a private party because we treat our guests like friends.
How do you manage this technically?
This is actually quite simple. You need a Zoom account, a stable internet connection, and you need to connect your DJ mixer with an audio interface to the computer that is streaming, as well as connecting a camera that shows you playing the set. A microphone also is a good idea. Cool is that Zoom now offers a HiFi setting, which means that the music now sounds really good on the other end of the WLAN.
To be honest: What’s it like as a DJ?
It is so much fun! A guest texted me how much these parties are a ray of light for her. She can really switch off and forget everything for two hours. I feel the same way.
However, I had to get used to this kind of a dancefloor. After the first parties in March, I was really exhausted. As a DJ, when I am playing live, I can usually feel & hear the dance floor and interact spontaneously. At the digital party, I have to look at the screen very closely and also pay attention to the chat, because I can’t hear the guests. I had to practice that. In the meantime, I have developed a basic feel. And I have invited moderators who take over the communication with the dance floor, so I can concentrate more on the mix. In the beginning, my boyfriend did that. Meanwhile I also had illustrious guests such as actress and radio host Britta Steffenhagen. This way the parties stay spiced up and surprising for the community.
What is really cool is that we can celebrate together across cities and national borders. We have had guests from all over Germany, Belgium, France, Portugal (from a houseboat!), USA, Kenya, Senegal – I think that’s fantastic! I also really like that we can bring all the age groups together. For example, after a booked party Max (name changed) who celebrated his 28th birthday with us, texted me:
“My grandma, she would never have come to my real-live party. That would have been too wild. This way she could be there and hear the party in her own volume. That was nice!”
So you do digital parties as booked events too?
Yes, for example, at the moment we are playing many Christmas parties. Especially now, at the end of the year, a joint virtual party offers an important connection from the home office to the home office. We also played wedding parties and a farewell party of a German family in Nairobi.
Why do we need to party so much?
With the parties, we can create a feeling of togetherness despite social distancing. A study conducted by the Stiftung für Zukunftsfragen (Foundation for Future Studies) found out in November that more than anything else, the Germans miss personal contact with family, friends and neighbours. We experience that too. At one of the virtual parties, a guest was always on and off. The others noticed this and asked in the chat what was going on. At some point, she answered that she misses her friends so much. She received a ton of virtual hugs and encouragements as well as requests to dance. Towards the end, she was much happier and she is now a regular guest.
Being personal at a digital party is different than when you meet in real life, sure. But we try to make them as personal as possible. It is important to us that it feels like a private party. For that, you have to see each other and also know each other’s names. Then you can comment, chat, and have fun together. And it seems to be working, as this feedback shows:
“Even though I don’t know any of these people, I always have the feeling that we are good friends after the party, because we shared the moment.”
This feeling also seems to be spilling over into real life:
“After the party I was really surprised that I only had to clean up two glasses! I really felt like you were all in my living room. Awesome!”
But digital parties are not for everyone. You have to take a leap and involve yourself, dance and have fun even though the party is on a screen. Not everyone wants to or can do that. Nevertheless: Being personal and committed helps in the digitalized world. For us, it’s all about the community and the connection that we can foster.
Thank you, Linda!
About Female Music Force
Linda Broschkowski founded Germany’s first agency for female DJs in 2020. Female Music Force gets female DJs behind the decks of private and corporate events. “Only 10% of the worldwide DJ gigs are played by women. This is comparable to the percentage of women on the boards of the 200 largest German companies. This has to change! So, I founded FMF, because together women are more visible and stronger. Our vision is that 50% of the gigs in the near future will be played by women. One party after the other. Until we can call ourselves Music Force”, says Linda.