Twenty-two-year-old Maharjan, also goes by the name DJ Nani, is in this profession for four years now. She was just in grade 11 when a YouTube video inspired her into DJing. “I was not only the youngest but also the only girl amongst men of different ages. All my seniors called me phucchi, kanchi and nani because I was young and petite. That’s why I took the name DJ Nani,” Maharjan said. But today her passion and the limelight has become a nightmarish experience as catcalling and obscenity has somehow become normal in Nepal. She’s been DJing all her life but for the past three years she’s encountered a high degree of unwanted misbehaviour in the clubs and venues she performs. Men who are generally drunk misbehave, but quitting is not a choice, The Kathmandu Post reported.

“At one of my shows, I was busy mixing music for the crowd when I suddenly felt hands go around my waist and pull me back,” Maharjan recounted. “A drunken man had sneaked up to the DJ area and tried to hug me without my consent.”

Several female DJs, who are now taking over this profession which was previously male-dominated, share similar experiences as Maharjan. Despite the fact that the profession gives them the limelight of a musician, the attitudes and behaviours they encounter from the crowd and even fellow performers hasn’t changed. From blowing kisses to unwanted attention from men who come up to them to ask for their phone numbers, along with Maharjan many other female DJs are despising this negative aspect of their job.

Men make obscene gestures at them thinking they’re ‘easy’, and every single female DJ has had at least one bad experience while performing.

The life of a DJ runs on a simple rule — giving party-goers a fun time that they’ll never forget. But that life has now transformed and has become a space where they are either being touched without consent or have been stalked and threatened by men, according to Maharjan. So in such an environment, it is understandable that parents would hesitate to approve of their daughters’ choice to pursue DJing as a career in Nepal.

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Another DJ Jenny Tamang, who has been a DJ for six years, had to convince her parents who also weren’t happy with her career choice at first. They were concerned about her safety, considering it was a late-night job.  “A few years ago, I had just finished a show and gone back to my hotel room. I was so tired, I just wanted to pass out, but just as I sat on my bed, I heard an extremely loud banging on my door,” said 25-year-old Tamang, who goes by DJ Zenny. “Some men had followed me from the show’s venue and were yelling at me to open the door and let them in. It was traumatising as few more hard knocks to the door would have broken the lock. I called the organiser in a panic and they helped me with the situation.”

Payal Rajeswori Bijlani or popularly known as DJ Payal, considered as Nepal’s first female DJ, started performing in 2005, said, “One of the worst experiences that I remember was in Biratnagar. My friend and I were mobbed by hundreds of people where many, taking advantage of the situation, tried to misbehave. The ruckus got so out of hand that we had to be rescued by security guards.”

“Helping people forget all their worries in life for a short time and seeing them dance to my music, while bright smiles appear on their faces, is the best part about my job,” Bijlani said. “But every DJ has good and bad days.”

Recounting a pleasant experience and attitude of the crowd Tamang said, “They pulled me to the dance floor and made me dance with them. It was so much fun. That day I had contentment in my heart. I felt like I was doing something good. Otherwise, when do women, especially of that age, get to let their guard down? It’s rare for them to have a few moments where they aren’t judged or commented on and I was happy to be a part of that.”

“We need to change the mentality that sees female DJs as hookers and that DJing isn’t a ‘respectable job’ for women,” she said.

“It is this kind of thinking that allows men to misbehave,” said Maharjan. “It is people’s perception that needs to change, not our profession or choice of clothing,” she added.

Feature Image Credit: The Kathmandu Post

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