The Best DJs In Australia Are Shes and Theys

Femme and queer DJs are finally receiving the recognition they deserve and Australia is at the forefront of this seismic scene shift.
Colette, a Melbourne icon. Photo: Adele Piahana.

Australia’s undercurrent of patriarchy is pervasive, especially in music. Our club and dance scenes were, until the onset of COVID, predominantly run by cisgender, heterosexual, white men, dictating the tunes and setting the tone for everything. Though this phenomenon was not unique to Australia, the country's limited ethnic diversity in cities – compared to the US or UK – amplified the dominance of white dudes in music spaces.


But as COVID's grip loosened, the landscape shifted dramatically. Post-lockdown, the Australian club scene witnessed a seismic surge in the popularity of femme and queer DJs, effectively bidding adieu to the days of all-white, cis-het male lineups. Promoters finally diversified their rosters, evolving from mere token inclusions of women or queer DJs to a complete overhaul of the party panorama, in a way returning the club scene to its queer, trans and POC roots. Today, those once confined to niche community spaces stand at the forefront of club scenes across the nation and beyond – and they’re the best DJs, anyway. 

DJ Jnett, iconic since the early 90s, epitomises this legacy in Melbourne. After a hiatus to raise her children, she's back stronger than ever, spinning regularly across the city and serving as a booker for popular Melbourne establishments Her and Arbory Afloat. Few male DJs match Jnett's enduring relevance and activity in Melbourne's contemporary music scene – a testament to her unparalleled talent and influence acknowledged by top DJs worldwide.

Jnett isn't alone in her trailblazing journey. Local legends CC:DISCO, Mz. Rizk and Colette boast years in the industry, earning acclaim as some of Melbourne's most esteemed and sought-after.


Mz Rizk

Mz. Rizk’s magnitude has been recognised by mainstream accolades too, winning Best DJ at the 2022 Music Victoria Awards and presenting PBS radio show Boogie Beat Suite every Tuesday. Colette, the resident DJ for The Toff’s infamous weekly jazz improvisation night Now Hear This, recently played the 2023 Boiler Room x Sugar Mountain. CC, though now living in Lisbon, can wholeheartedly take a share of credit for building Melbourne’s club scene.

The rise of feminine energy in DJing isn't just a trend; it's a transformative force. Parties curated with this ethos exude an inviting, liberated atmosphere, fostering an unparalleled sense of fun. I’m not just talking about cis or trans women; it's also about queer DJs embodying the feminine essence, drawing from a rich tapestry of communities like the vibrant ballroom culture.

Indeed, the roots of house music, epitomised by icons like Frankie Knuckles, intertwine with queer and Black identities. Yet, somewhere along the line, electronic music veered towards whiteness and maleness. Fortunately, this trajectory is now shifting and Australia stands at the forefront, dismantling the hegemony of white cis-het males in the global club scene.


Today, Melbourne and Sydney's premier parties are DJed and run predominantly by queer people and women. DUTTY WORLDWIDE, a queer-focused party collective by and for people of colour, is spearheaded by partners C.Frim and Mirasia, who are also individually gaining worldwide notoriety as DJs. Other collectives like Fluxx, Signal, Club Confide, House of Mince, Solarmates, UMAMI, Paralusion, Luna Blessings and Kerfew, to list a handful, exist to champion queer, femme and POC sounds. 


They’re on our airways too – through Emelyne’s weekly PBS show The Blend and her bass-heavy selections at gigs, she exemplifies the finest of what Melbourne has to offer. 

Australia is also known for embracing and celebrating women and queer DJs from around the world.

American trans DJ Honey Dijon’s Sugar Mountain x Boiler Room set is one of the most watched Boiler Room sets of all time with 11 million views on YouTube and the crowd in Melbourne on the day could tell they were witnessing something special.

Jennifer Loveless, a Canadian luminary, made her mark here before moving to Berlin and conquering the European scene. Though no longer based in Australia, Loveless regularly comes back during the summer to headline parties and festivals across the country.

England's Ruby Savage, Shy One, Sherelle, Jamz Supernova, and DJ Lady Erica also frequently grace the Australian shores, infusing the scene with their distinctive sounds. These women, many of them queer, have cemented themselves within the Australian musical landscape and built a loyal fanbase that shows how widely appreciated their presence here is.


Berlin-based Lakuti and Tamo Sumo also recently graced Australia with their presence to a widely positive reception. As mature-age DJs, they show the craft is not just a young person’s game. Their presence is a refreshing reminder that talent can and should supersede clout.

Trans lesbian couple Eris Drew and Octa Octa have made Australia a regular tour stop far away from their home base in New Hampshire. The masters of the underground sound who once had to fight for visibility are now celebrated for their infectious selections and skilled turntablism, bringing huge crowds at Meredith Music Festival to tears of joy

Originally from Chicago, Eris Drew draws inspiration from an entity she calls the Motherbeat – a healing rave goddess that revealed herself to Eris after leaving a party in 1994. The ideology of Motherbeat views the dance floor as a ritual space for dancers and the rave as a space of healing and connection. It is this energy, I believe, that perfectly articulates why feminine energy in party spaces is so needed.

In this transformative era, Australia isn't merely embracing diversity; it's propelling femme and queer DJs to the forefront of a once-monolithic industry. We find ourselves amid a new electronic underground, where women and queer DJs are finally receiving the recognition they deserve. 

Just as house and techno were pioneered by women like Detroit's DJ Minx, the mother of Tech House, the futures of these genres and club music are femme and queer. 

Like legendary ballroom DJ/Producer Mike Q recently said: “The best DJs in the world are women”.

Crissy Collins is a Melbourne-based DJ, radio host and writer. Follow her on Instagram here.