The closest I’ve come to being in a band was brought about through my love of the Spice Girls. When I was eleven, my friends and I entered a big impersonation contest at the mall, practicing our dance moves and lip-syncing for weeks beforehand.
As we grew older and our tastes evolved, we began visiting all-age music events where boys would play guitars loudly and scream into microphones and people would thrash and punch each other on the dance floor below the stage. I only ever saw a girl in one of these bands. She was good at screaming.
When I began dating, my boyfriends always seemed to play guitar. My first boyfriend wrote me a song called I Love Joslyn. When I moved to Toronto in my early twenties, an overwhelming majority of the men I hung out with were professional musicians, often in multiple bands. Some had even won Junos.
But I’ve only ever had one or two female friends who dabbled with instruments, mainly alone in their bedrooms. Very few of the women in my life have performed much music on a stage. And I don’t think I’m alone in this experience.
According to Devon Berquist, the Dawson City Music Festival (DCMF) assistant producer, the DCMF Association has noticed “a consistent lack of female representation across all genres of music.”
Which is exactly why they’re bringing Girls Rock Camp to the Yukon this summer. You may have heard of it.
It began in Portland in 2001, and has since spread across the world. It’s a weeklong camp where girls learn to play an instrument, make music, be in a band, and perform on stage. It’s a crash course in rock n’ roll, for eight to 15-year-olds. “We want to create a safe space where girls feel comfortable opening up to each other,” says Berquist, who is spearheading the initiative. “The point isn’t to do a flawless F chord or 4:4 time on drums, it’s about having fun, being wild and creative, and taking up space in a largely male-dominated music world.”
A team of five lady leaders, including local indie-rocker Sarah MacDougall, will be helping young girls march out of their self-consciousness and onto the stage through workshops that range from zine, poster, and button making, to tech 101, to body positivity and a history of women in rock.
On the last day of camp, girls will actually take the DCMF stage to perform their newly created music. “There aren’t a lot of camps where you get to share the stage with some of Canada’s top-notch musicians,” says Berquist.
A major aim of the camp is to remain accessible to all Yukon families. To do this, they are running an online Kickstarter fundraising campaign to cover the expenses of low-income and single parent families. They’re currently sitting at two-thirds of their $3000 goal, and they only have until May 15 to raise the remainder. Kickstarter runs on an all-or-nothing model, meaning if the campaign raises any less than the entire $3000, they don’t get any of it. Every single dollar counts. “It’s about supporting underrepresented demographics in the music world,” says Berquist, “and making all-girl bands a norm and not an exception to the rule.”
The Girls Rock Camp runs from July 20 to 25 in Dawson City. For more information go to www.yukongirlsrock.com. Visit www.bitly. com/1BK1JJ2 if you’re feeling moved to donate.