Last month I spent a weekend at the GIRLSCHOOL festival. It was three days of panels and music at the Bootleg Theater in Los Angeles. The conference centered around women in every aspect—including the bands that played, the art displayed, and the sound and lighting crews that made everything happen. The proceeds went to Rock ’n’ Roll Camp for Girls, which helps girls learn to play instruments and write songs. My friend Kylie and I learned new things at daytime panels, contemplated our existence, and danced with a bunch of cool people at night. The Bootleg Theater is a rad venue with two stages, an old movie theater in the back, and all gender-neutral bathrooms! Overall it was a really fun weekend that felt like a small haven from some of the shitty things that were happening in our nation.
Anna Bulbrook is the founder and CEO of GIRLSCHOOL: “Thanks to GIRLSCHOOL, I get to witness all these incredibly talented and different people empower each other to create the environment and the opportunities that we want to see for ourselves. Working hard alongside so many luminescent girls and women is the single most fun and satisfying thing that I do.”
This panel was about sexualization of queer and trans women in the media. It was hosted Dannielle Owens-Reid and featured Jimanekia Eborn, Stevie Boebi, and Jen Richards. A topic that came up in this panel that was interesting to me was the idea that something can exist without necessarily being exclusionary. People can talk about sex without excluding asexual people and women can talk about uteruses without excluding trans women. What’s important is to not assume any experience is universal. After seeing this panel, I went home and watched Jen Richards’s web series Her Story, and it’s so good! It strikes a balance between emotional and realistic while remaining positive and humorous.
The Regrettes had such a fun show. Every single song was great for dancing. Lydia came into the audience and started a friendly mosh pit.
The Bird and the Bee are like if a bunch of kindergarten teachers were in a band, and I mean that in the best way. Inara George’s voice sounds just as pure and glossy live as it does on her recordings. I danced through the whole set.
This is Zee from SoundGirls setting up the sound systems. SoundGirls is a organization that helps get women in the audio industry by providing training, job opportunities, and community.
Juliet from SoundGirls.
This panel was called Ruidosa Presents Heroína Latina: A Conversation With Mujeres Shaping Music and Culture Today. Francisca Valenzuela hosted this panel, which featured Lido Pimienta, Raquel Sofía, Alice Bag, and Marty Preciado.
Something that really stuck with me was when Lido Pimienta talked about touring and balancing that with taking care of a child. She said the goal of feminism is “not a quest to attain the rights of a white man,” and to “be like a piece of shit.” Feminism can be so concerned with reaching equality within a system that it doesn’t question whether the system should exist in the first place.
In addition to hosting a panel, Francisca Valenzuela also performed. Her music was fun and lively.
TRACE put on a dreamy and hypnotizing set featuring a mashup cover of “Toxic” and “Hold On, We’re Going Home.”
A highlight was dancing to ABBA with Kylie.
This panel was about intersectional feminism in music. It was hosted by Mukta Mohan and featured Faye Orlove, Drew Arriola-Sands, Marin, and Shana Cleveland. It was largely a discussion about the different spaces these artists and organizers run and strategies for how they reach marginalized communities. Marin runs a music camp for girls called Chicas Rockeras, which reaches out to participants with promotional materials in both English and Spanish. Faye Orlove talked about the importance of balancing events that pay the bills with events that are free and more accessible at her community space Junior High.
Madame Ghandi gave a personal and enthusiastic talk about her path from business school to working for Spotify to becoming a drummer for Thievery Corporation and MIA. She had everyone participate in an exercise where we folded a piece of paper into thirds. On one panel we wrote down everything we loved, on the next one we wrote down everything we hate, and on the last one we wrote down solutions to fix the things we hate with the things we love. “Everything I do can be boiled down to feminism, fitness, and music,” she told us. It inspired me to think more about what is really important to me and to stop saying yes to things that don’t nourish me.