Shame Works! How All-Dude, All-White Lineups Were Near-Annihilated in Melbourne’s Club Scene

"I think for those that might not really give a fuck, they kind of have to make the changes. And that makes me happy to see.”
Arielle Richards
Melbourne, AU
Collage: Laura Du Ve//Refinery29 Australia - We Are Many Image Gallery , Florence Brown, WIP Project
Collage: Laura Du Ve//Refinery29 Australia - We Are Many Image Gallery , Florence

Next week, WIP Project turns 3, which means the collective is celebrating three years of making the utterance “we’d love to book more female DJs but there just aren’t enough” die in the throats of booking agents, organisers and promoters everywhere. And when I say everywhere, I just mean Melbourne. The rest of Australia… needs… work.

But what is the WIP project?

Back in 2019, the world was a scary place. Pre-pandemic times, pre-everyone experiencing ego death and finding themselves on TikTok and developing a kind of depression-provoked-self-awareness curated by being locked inside for months on end. Being exposed to the panopticon of social media as your central source of socialisation, many discussions around equality, justice, and dismantling the white supremacist patriarchal hegemony of our “normal” lives were brought to the fore.


Before all that, Sarah Morgan, one half of eminent DJ duo IN2STELLAR, was noticing some shit: For every single stand-out female DJ, there were hundreds and thousands of dudes, and they were populating lineups every weekend, everywhere.

“It was kind of a time where there were far less gender non conforming and female DJs, but there was also far less visibility for them,” Morgan told VICE.

“I was on this crusade, calling out all male lineups, and then they'd be like, we don't know where to find any women DJs. And I'd be like, oh my God, here’s 20.

In a tight-knit community like Melbourne, DJing is one of those things where access and exposure are everything. The more gigs you play, the more likely you are to book more. It’s an effect that snowballs. And in Melbourne, and everywhere, DJing had always been seen as a bit of a boys’ club. And the boys’ club didn’t really see the lack of non-boys on the decks as a problem. There weren’t enough women DJs to book, anyway!

“I found it really frustrating that we weren't even getting to the point of being able to discuss how to fix the problem. We were still at the point of arguing that it was a problem,” Morgan said.

“I find that it still happens. With all social issues, people who these things affect spend so much energy and time trying to justify that things are an issue, and then we waste all the time that we could be spending fixing this stuff.” 


“The most frustrating thing was trying to explain why it's not cool to have an all white, male lineup. And like, what representation is, all this stuff, I felt like a broken record, I just felt exhausted.”

So Morgan made a spreadsheet, with all the women, non-binary and gender non-conforming DJs, artists, booking agents and industry members she knew of. The spreadsheet grew bigger, and bigger. People wanted to add themselves. On Instagram, people were calling out all-male lineups. Now the community had somewhere to point. No female, gender non-conforming or non-binary DJs to book? Bullshit.

In 2020, fellow DJ and graphic designer Florence Brown reached out to Morgan, expressing interest in turning the spreadsheet directory into a website. And the WIP Project was launched.

Kirstie Green and Isabella Misurelli have since joined the project, volunteering their time to keep WIP keeping on.

Three years on, Melbourne’s lineups are some of the most interesting in the country. Responsible for this is the work of various collectives and organisers, who said fuck it, why ask to be given space, when we can just create our own? To name just a few, UMAMI, Dutty Worldwide, Paralusion,
Solarmates, and Framework, who have all steadily carved a respected place in the city’s events landscape with lineups strictly prioritising artists who are femme, queer, black, Indigenous and people of colour. At this point all dude lineups are just fucking weird.


Morgan said it was a “ground-up movement”, if anything. There’s still a lot of work to be done.

“I think promoters and bookers and gatekeepers have seen a lot of pressure from the communities that they're delivering this service to,” Morgan said.

“And I think that's been amazing, because it shows that people do want to see a progressive and fair society. If your target audience is people from all walks of life, from 18, to 35, or whatever, you need your lineups to be representative of the people that are attending your shows.”

The social pressure to do better is powerful in Melbourne. The city’s shame code is strong. Did it work? Do bookers and promoters give a shit about promoting fairness, access, and equality in their spaces? Are they cool enough to give the girls airtime?

“I know WIP project has created tangible change. I know people use the website to book lineups. Sometimes I can just tell by the lineup. And we've had community members tell us that they got found through the website.”

“It’s a sort of groundswell that's trickled up,” Morgan said. “Some people have made changes just on their own terms, which is always great to see, once they become more educated about why it's important, but I think for those that might not really give a fuck, they kind of have to make the changes. And that makes me happy to see, I guess.”

“It’s so interesting because lineups are so obvious. It's the only part of a business where you are literally listing everyone's names. At the same time, it's the tip of the iceberg, because I definitely see diverse lineups. And I know that they've been booked by a room of straight white guys.”


You can submit your profile to WIP here.

Acquire tickets to WIP’s third birthday party on April 22, at Avalon the Bar, below.

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Read more from VICE Australia.