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Lady DJs Get Their Own Night At River Horse

by DeMisty Bellinger / photos by Peter DiAntoni

Carolina Psister is not new to the music scene; she hails from a band from her hometown in Brazil and, upon entering the US, quickly formed another band here in Milwaukee. However, she is new to bartending, and when Scean Rose, part owner of the River Horse, gave her the job and the freedom to pick any disc jockey format for her nights of tending, she chose a line-up of all women. The grounding for Psister’s DJ format is definitely in feminism. Growing up in Brazil, a traditional patriarchal country, Psister found she and her allies made more of an impact through the “third wave” of feminism than she does here in the United States. “Everything has already been done and said [in America] that if I talk about what I have in Brazil, I will sound [redundant].” She also feels that freedoms in America are taken for granted. Psister gets many of her DJs from the Riverwest area. Some she invites and some ask to spin on Saturdays. Many of the DJs have never stood behind the wheels of steel. “They just have to come in ten minutes before they start and Scean will give them a quick lesson,” Psister says. Some of them just play a mix set of crowd favorites or personal favorites that they know the River Horse’s clientele will enjoy, and some have tried scratching records. Some of the novice jockeys go on to do sets at other venues. Psister knows of at least four. River Horse also has DJs spinning every Wednesday night. C- lin, a Wednesday night DJ, got her job through her best friend, who bartends Wednesday nights. She doesn’t mix and scratch records, but plays an eclectic mix of music. “What I do is I take all of the music that I own and I play the songs that I like and that I know that most of the people that come in on Wednesday nights are going to like. I always work in a decent half of hour of ’80’s music because of the age of the guests.” Although DJ C-lin does not mix like a traditional club DJ does, she feels it makes a difference to have someone at the turntables as opposed to a CD changer behind the bar. “I think having a live person play the music, someone that people come up and talk to, is a lot different than a CD player because in some ways it’s like…entertainment.” Scean, who gives his bartenders control of the DJ’s while working, enjoys having women working the wheels. “The Lady DJs… tend to have more fun. The guys see it as more of a job.” Yet it is a job, or for some who don’t come in weekly, a gig. They get paid, but Scean says that women will refuse pay and ask for a cut on slow nights, where as most men, who see it solely as work, expect full pay. Caitlin says she’ll reject the money if the bar was not that busy. “I like doing it for fun – I don’t care about the pay.” “Lady DJs Night” is every Saturday night at River Horse, on the corner of Center and Pierce Streets. Riverwest Currents – Volume 2 – Issue 8 – August 2003