Ed Adoo portrait

DJ and broadcaster Ed Adoo on why clubland’s approach to hiring female DJs is wrong

It's far from equality of the sexes

Ed Adoo was raised in Queen’s Crescent and has carved out an enviable career for himself across music and commentary, with regular shows on BBC Radio, appearances as a cultural pundit on Sky News, and DJ residencies at many of London’s top clubs. But he took to social media recently to bemoan a practice that some people might see as positive – the hiring of female DJs based on their gender alone.

Never one to shy away from a topical debate, we spoke to Ed over a coffee in Kentish Town so that he could elaborate on the issue and suggest what should be done.

Tell us what happened, Ed?

I’ve been DJing in London for the best part of 20 years, mostly in members clubs. From Covent Garden’s Hospital to Home House, Arts Club and House of KOKO, I’ve played all over and as a jobbing DJ, it’s the stuff that pays the bills.

But recently I received an email from another venue that I used to have a residency at, saying that they were going to be looking for female DJs with a ‘friendly vibe’ in future. It made me feel that this was clearly discrimination, and far from equality of the sexes goes, it is actually degrading to women.

The owners clearly want to make it look artificial and ‘sexy’, where it’s no longer about the chance to experience a DJ working their art form, regardless of gender or sexuality.

How did you feel about this?

I spoke to a few other people who said it was not the first time they’d heard this, that a practice that is well known in places like Dubai seems to be increasingly happening here.

Luckily when I’m not DJing I have a broadcast and written journalism platform that I’m humbled to have built up, so I can call it out. But imagine if places actively stated ‘we don’t want black DJs, or LGBTQ DJs’. We can’t have people not being allowed to have their careers flourish because of discrimination and prejudice. It feels like some places don’t feel they need to adhere to the law around discrimination as they’re members clubs, so the do what they want.

But we’re talking about London nightlife in 2024, not in 1934, and it’s beyond horrid that these practices are clearly still taking place. It feels very much like 1980s London, a kind of Stringfellows vibe to it, and it seems to be a cultural thing in some cases, too. Some club owners come from other parts of the world where you don’t have to adhere to things like the Equal Opportunities Act, so unless these places are challenged, educated or told, I don’t think some of the owners even know.

So what should be done?

Councils should be doing more. The Night Tzar, Amy Lame, should be looking into a nightlife equal equalities act, in conjunction of all the London councils. It could be a kind of  A to Z of how people should be hired, and how they should be respected. I think that’s the only way, but you know what? Other councils, across other parts of the UK, would then soon follow suit and say we’ll have to weed out this prejudice.

Aren’t venue owners missing a trick by forgetting that the DJ is there to set the mood through music, not actually to look pretty?

Yes, and this doesn’t just apply to female DJs actually, let’s call it out. Today as a man, you’ve ideally got to be a skinny, photogenic white DJ. So we’d not have someone I completely respect and admire, the likes of Carl Cox, playing by today’s standards. They’d turn around and say ‘you’ve got to lay off the chicken burgers mate and come back when you’ve got a diet plan.’

Ed Adoo is practicing what he preaches with his brand new night at Blue Marlin Ibiza London, the new members club situated on the rooftop at Shoreditch hotel the Mondrian.

He’s showcasing rising talent from the capital alongside some of his favourite established names every second Thursday. For more, follow DJ Ed Adoo on Instagram or the Camdenist website for more stori

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