Women-Only Event & Concert Series Makes Waves in Perth
An event coordinator from Perth has flipped the city's DJ scene on its head by creating a community enclave exclusively for women and trans performers and attendees – known as PachaMama Gatherings.
Nicky Bridge has 20 years of experience in promoting and events in Perth.
I got the chance to sit down and talk with Bridge about her latest endeavour – a women-only electronic dance music concert series called Into The Womb – A Girl's Night Out.
"The idea of PachaMama was created late one night, at a closed crew event party,” Bridge said. “An intoxicated man spoiled the mood for everyone with his ongoing harassment of women on the dancefloor. Credit to the amazing men in our community – they tried to explain to this one man that his behaviour was making the women (their partners or sisters) uncomfortable with his unwanted affection on the dancefloor.
"From that moment, I decided that I wanted to provide one event a year exclusive of men. An event just for the girls to have an old fashioned night out. I put a call out to women in our EDM community who may want to get involved and make it happen. From that, PachaMama Gatherings was formed in February 2018."
Since their inaugural show last year, Bridge and her collective have hosted several smaller events, each of which drew between 30 and 130 people, according to Bridge.
These events have included two cocktail spa parties, a clothes swap, soap making workshops, sweat lodge healing sessions, arts and craft days, and most recently a mixed-gender silent disco.
She even provides sessions for female DJs to come and workshop their sets.
Bridge hosts every event, either at home or on private property.
Since their first event, Bridge says she has witnessed a growth in the number of female performing and attending concerts in the Perth EDM scene.
"The most profound effect we have had with our attendees is the quality of friendships that have been formed directly from girls meeting new people at our events,” said Bridge.
"Many women in our community struggle with social anxiety and find it difficult to meet new people with similar interests in social environments. We, as a global society, have become so disconnected. Many of us are searching for something to belong to."
For Bridge, music is in her blood. Her mother was extremely involved in the Australian music scene during the 1970s – she ran a company that organised music camps for up to 7,000 children annually in New South Wales.
Like her mother, Bridge developed an attraction to music and, as a teen, performed with the South Australian Salvation Army Brass Band and also had the opportunity to rehearse with the Western Australia Youth Philharmonic Orchestra.
In the late 1980s, Bridge began attending underground raves, nightclubs, and festivals which spurred in her a passion for EDM and music promotion.
After working Perth's nightclub scene for several years, first as a bartender and later as a general manager, Bridge decided to don, yet another hat– she was pregnant.
"After the birth of my first child, I went onto other work in the hospitality industry and then onto coordinating events for various pubs, clubs, restaurants, liquor outlets, and other industry events. Fast forward a couple of decades, I had another two children. During this time, I studied Naturopathy, Western Herbal Medicine & Western Australian Bush Flower medicine. I continued to coordinate events and attend festivals and regularly went to underground music events here in Perth."
By building an active community of women in Perth, Bridge has helped provide a platform for emerging female DJs in an overwhelmingly male music scene.
"Three DJs, new to the scene, were launched at our events over the last 18months and now all three are getting regular gigs, some just here locally in Perth and others overseas in the European festival scene,” Bridge said.
“Our events allow up and coming DJs a place to practice their DJ skills in a friendly and encouraging environment, where the more experienced DJs are happy to help mentor and boost their self-confidence on the decks. I'm proud that we have such a diversity of female DJs here in Perth.”
With Bridge at the heart of the Perth DJ scene, I asked her about some of her favourite local DJs.
“Girl London plays such a unique style of Middle Eastern Tech House. She is really starting to build a great following locally. Triplett has been making a name for herself over the past six months, and will be one to watch over the next few years. Mz Lopez and Bassfiend are really showing the boys that the girls can drop those heavy bass beats just as hard. They both really know how to connect with their crowd. It’s fabulous to watch them engage with the crowd during their sets,” Bridge said.
“Lenskï and Dj BRONI are two of the most versatile DJs here in Perth. Combined playing just about any genre from House, Tech to Psy Trance & DnB. Our local up and coming DJs: Xanthe who recently came second in a local DJ competition. Stitches, So Tired and DJ Booty Beats will be DJs to watch over the summer festival season, as they are all working hard to establish names for themselves,” Bridge added.
Once you meet Bridge, it's clear that her success as a promoter is a product of her passion for music, her personability, and welcoming smile.
She cares about her DJs and attendees. It isn't rare for performers and attendees to receive a text from Bridge offering her support.
It's much more than just music for Bridge and the PachaMama gatherings – it's about sharing everlasting memories, creating friendships, and supporting one another in a safe space.
"PachaMama's focus has always been to support and facilitate events that bring women together, to network and share skills. We always try to keep our events reasonably priced, so that no matter your financial situation, you can always afford a night out with us. Concentrating more on creating smaller events, where costs and overheads are low, make it attainable for those who are on low income to attend. As avid environmentalists, it is our endeavour to always use recycled materials on our stage and DJ booth."
Bridge will host their next event, Into the Womb 2 – Return to the Forest, October 12-13th at a secret location.
Over 26 hours, 15 female DJs will perform inside a campsite, complete with art installations, and interactive workshops, and, as always, it will be exclusively for women and transwomen.
Serenity Sound System will be pumping out the sound, complemented by full light and laser shows.
The event is also child-friendly – girls of any age and boys up to 7 years old are welcome to attend. There will be a child only area with kids movies playing, arts and crafts, and PachaMama's infamous TeddyPool, a huge above ground swimming pool filled with teddy bears!