Pop quiz: name five international DJs who happen to be women. Tough ask? Okay, how about naming five international DJs who happen to be dykes.
Too hard? You bet. In a field dominated by men, Tracy Young is one of very few out dykes who are cutting it live on America’s sprawling gay party circuit. Residing in Miami, Young bounces from city to city and venue to venue like the proverbial rubber ball: Montr? one week, Washington DC the next, Carte-gena (Colombia) the week after.
This month sees Young try out her DJ talents for the very first time in Australia. Gigs in Perth and Adelaide are followed by a headline slot at Red Raw and an (as-yet-unconfirmed) debut in Sydney. So is she nervous about strutting her stuff for Australian crowds?
Yup. I get very nervous before any gig, even if it’s a small gig in Miami, she says. But that makes me better, forces me to be more on top of my gig. I work well under pressure.
Young’s star has come a long way in a relatively short space of time, thanks in part to the intervention of Madonna. Mrs Ritchie was so impressed by Young’s DJing prowess she signed her up to play at the premiere of her film The Next Best Thing and her wedding, and commissioned her to do some remixes of the Music singles.
She’s definitely opened up a lot of doors for me, Young says. All eyes are always on her, so anybody who works with her, eyes are going to be on them too. It’s accelerated my name quite a bit, but I’ve learned a lot as well, working with someone who takes such a hands-on interest in everything she does.
But other celebrities have flocked to use Young. She’s spun records at private parties for the likes of Ricky Martin, Lenny Kravitz and Lauryn Hill, and her website (www.djtracyyoung.com) features entire photo galleries of her mixing with stars.
Not that she ever gets starstruck. I was never the type to bother anybody, she says. I would never go up and introduce myself because I would always think they were not going to remember me, so what’s the point?
As Young describes it, it was Madonna who sought her out. I certainly hope I work with her again. But nothing is permanent in this world; nothing is forever. I keep in mind how she does work and how she tends to move on. I’m not going to take it personally because that’s just how she is, she says.
At Red Raw, Young will be sharing the limelight with CeCe Peniston (of Finally fame), as well as a swag of local DJs including Paul Goodyear and Arlen De Silva. Red Raw has traditionally been the date on the Melbourne party calendar, but for Young, it marks another stop on the international gay party circuit.
She debuted on the lucrative circuit party merry-go-round about 18 months ago. It’s a very hard thing to break into, she says. I was overwhelmed by all the people, looking out onto a sea of unfamiliar people, as opposed to, say, 200 familiar faces. While there are still only a handful of female DJs who have hit the big time, Young says there are definitely more than there were when she first started working the turntables.
For a long time, it was always me breaking down doors and getting jobs, because club owners generally would always want to hire a man, she says. But there are more female DJs playing now than before and quite honestly I think it’s wonderful because it makes life easier for all of us.
Red Raw is on Saturday 26 January from 10pm to 9am at The Goods Shed, Melbourne Docklands. Advance tickets are $75 ($60 for concessions) from Aussie Boys (Oxford Street) and Ticketek (1800 062 849).