There's a strong possibility that, if you like to get out and shake what your momma gave you from time to time, you've seen Miss Erika J. Bock. At the very least, you've heard her.
She's the one at the DJ tables blending Daft Punk's "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger (Live at Coney Island)" into Kanye West's "Stronger," or making you wonder who this great synth-pop group singing in French is.
It's Yelle, by the way, and as a regular resident DJ at MOCT, The Social and Jackalope Lounge, Bock knows her way around a hot dance track.
A month ago she helped freshen up MOCT's Thursday nights from a predominantly rock format -- who the hell can dance to Weezer, anyway? -- into something new and, well, old. The result is Retro+Electro, an evening of new wave, '80s dance, industrial, synth-pop and electronic music.
Her latest musical project, however, isn't only about changing genres; it's also about changing stereotypes. With the help of friend and local DJ Nolan Scott, she's organized RATIO, an all-female DJ night happening the last Thursday of each month at MOCT. RATIO kicked off Thursday, Nov. 25 with WMSE's Dori and The Viduski Sisters, giveaways by A Woman's Touch and Atomic tattoo and a plethora of drink specials.
"The idea of giving female DJs a night of their own appealed to me because I think it's intimidating to get into DJing professionally," says Bock. "It's still pretty much a boys club, but that aspect of it always appealed to me. I like to do the things girls aren't supposed to do."
That's not to say that ladies aren't supposed to spin wax for the masses -- or pushing play on the Macs, whatever the case may be -- it's just that, in Milwaukee, it's traditionally been something of a rarity.
"If I had to guess about the male to female ratio for DJs in Milwaukee, I'd wager it's 50-75 to one. Seeing a female DJ in a club is almost like seeing a Elvis pumping gas at the local Citgo."
The good news is things are changing and the gender-based assumptions associated with female club DJs are starting to become a thing of the past.
"It was a fine line working out this night, though, because we want it to be female-positive without exploiting these women," she says. "I guess I was really sensitive to that aspect of it because I've had club owners try to change my appearance. 'I love your music, but could you wear something sexy and grow out your hair?'"
As a club DJ for a number of years, she's experienced sexism first hand, which is a major impetus for the attitude shift she's driving. For RATIO, Bock says she's looking for hard-working women who are willing to bring it and keep the party going, but as far as styles, "Anything goes. We want to bring in house and breaks DJs, rockers, ravers, hip hop kids, whatever."
Over at The Social, Bock and her legion of ladies reign on Tuesday nights at the weekly Bad Girls Night Out. In addition to female DJs playing all things unabashedly upbeat -- '90s dance, positive hip hop, Britpop, bubblegum pop -- the evening is rounded out with drink specials, a massage therapist, tarot card readers and giveaways by the Tool Shed and Shag. Oh, and it's Bad Girls Night Out, so boys are definitely allowed.
OnMilwaukee.com staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.
As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When OnMilwaukee.com offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”