Girl Talk

In a recent interview, Ricardo Villalobos says:

“Many people thought that it’s cool to play super heady and boring music without any idea inside. They didn’t realize that it’s boring. In the past two years, some DJs have realized that it’s necessary to play house in between. Not all the time, but just to get the girls back to the dance floor.”

Am I the only one who cringes a little at this? Not the point being made, but the “get the girls back to the dance floor” part of it. It’s sort of creepy and also illogical.

I guess these “knowing” assumptions are fairly common in dance music . It’s quite stupid though, who says girls don’t like heady music or boring music? And who says boys do? Can we really be so simplistic about the relationship between gender and genre in 2008?

I guess techno can be dominated by men, if not much more than other genres. Case in point: here. Do any girls read this blog? What do you think? If you can bear to read this “heady” post that is.

Edit: this is not intended to be an attack on anybody, I’m sure you could find plenty of people in techno or in other genres saying something like the above, it’s more just an interesting springboard for discussion.

Comments 52

  1. RoK wrote:

    I can only speak for the Amsterdam scene, but the whole minimal thing brought girls back on the dancefloor, where in the days oldfashioned techno was the main thing the ratio men- women was about 80 to 20. Here minimal is definitely not for one particular gender, but the women do seem to respond to warmth in the music. I think that’s what he means, that the sounds are getting warmer, but the minimal ethis is still the same imo..

    Posted 28 Feb 2008 at 5:30 pm
  2. Marc wrote:

    Hey Ronan,

    I noticed that quote too. Two similar references from women:

    In an interview last year, Heidi says:

    “Personally, from a woman’s point of view, I think that if you hit the pelvic region with your music, it’s going to be good on the dance floor. If I don’t feel that bass in my midsection, then I’m not interested.”

    And Cassy in RA last year:

    “Some of the tracks are too techno so I can’t play them because all the girls leave. They’re like “Oh, techno” and then everyone starts crying. [plays track] This, for example, is too much for girls.”

    Posted 28 Feb 2008 at 5:39 pm
  3. Chantilly Bass wrote:

    I’m a girl who reads your blog regularly via RSS, and I agree with Ricardo completely. There has been a serious lack of groove and swing, and most of all: MELODY in the past 18 months or so. My angst even led me to make thisven silly ven diagram last October. I love the sensuality and soulfulness that such elements ignite when they come together perfectly. I especially love the Chilean producers because I think they nail it when it comes to making truly sensual music by combining each aspect to take me to that happy place. Most of the stuff that’s coming out right now does sound overly cerebral and boring to me, and there needs to be more hotness brought to the table. I’ve been bitching about this for a while now, and I’m glad Ricardo is with me. People need to stop trying too hard to be heady and start back the sensual magic. Thanks for posting this, Ricardo totally has a valid point here.

    Posted 28 Feb 2008 at 7:29 pm
  4. mlt wrote:

    Yes, this is most definitely cringe worthy, if not only sexist, but because it misses the point. I hold strongly to the fact that a Dj’s job isn’t to serve the crowd, but to do a good job, and the crowd should be pleased from that. It’s reasons like this musical gender dualities exist – as I really doubt theres any biological predisposition for women not liking techno – because the way at least the club system works, people don’t gravitate to the music as much as they are given to it, and it has to fit certain criteria (of being necessarily danceable, or in this case fit gender constructs. I dunno, personally I would never shape my dj sets around getting guys laid (and most of the people who do tend to be not so good dj’s).

    Posted 28 Feb 2008 at 7:37 pm
  5. Ronan wrote:

    I guess what I’d ask is: do you think that you think that because you are a girl?

    Posted 28 Feb 2008 at 7:52 pm
  6. tom/pipecock wrote:

    don’t talk about soul on here, Ronan does not believe in it.

    Posted 28 Feb 2008 at 7:55 pm
  7. Chris wrote:

    He’s just generalising. Heady dancefloors of soulless minimal feel male because they are dominated by guys by and large. Housier dancefloors seem more mixed because more people get up and dance because the music is warmer so the gender mix is broader. He’s not saying girls don’t like techno – just his perception of dancefloors. Plus, you know, it’s Villalobos – he says he hates remixes and he’s done a ton of them, he says one thing and does another. That’s just what he’s like. He certainly ain’t being creepy. He’s way too intelligent for that.

    Posted 28 Feb 2008 at 7:56 pm
  8. OMC wrote:

    As a fellow Amsterdammer I can only agree with RoK, there’s a very healthy M/F ratio these days. It’s a rather tired cliche Villalobos is using here (my girlfriend is always dissing RV for being not as banging as Hawtin. :)

    Posted 28 Feb 2008 at 7:56 pm
  9. Ronan wrote:

    I don’t think he personally is being creepy, more that this idea of “we male djs need to play more house to get girls back on the floor with the male fans” is a bit creepy.

    Posted 28 Feb 2008 at 7:57 pm
  10. tom/pipecock wrote:

    aside from that, the problem is that doods tend to nerd out about shit. that is why some nonsense mnml can be so captivating to a random man when it doesn’t really do anything. women seem to be more interested in just feeling the music, and that is the kind of approach i try to take as well. i can dork out about some records, believe me, but the ones i care about don’t fascinate me with their DSP wankery or their complexity or whatever else. it is about how they move me on the dancefloor.

    Posted 28 Feb 2008 at 7:58 pm
  11. clom wrote:

    i’m with tom on this. it either moves you or it doesn’t.

    the notion that housier stuff is more “for girls” isn’t a new one, it’s been doing the rounds for ages
    The idea that men are geekier about music isn’t restricted to house/techno and that, Lesley Douglas was talking about it last week.

    Posted 28 Feb 2008 at 8:07 pm
  12. Ronan wrote:

    If you’re not interested in technological processes Tom, why do you despise some and fetishize others? Surely it’s just as detached from the dancefloor to know the production techniques you hate inside out as it is to obsess about the ones you love?

    Reacting against DSP wankery is just the other side of the same coin as being obsessed with it, and judging by the fact you have made a point of slamming these production methods at every possible juncture, couldn’t it be argued that you’re just as obsessed with them as the people who like them?

    If you really didn’t care about production methods and only about “how the music moves me on the floor” then you’d like music that used any and all kinds of tools to make it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you criticise something for any reason related to how it moves you on the floor. Not even once.

    Still, that sort of eternal argument is not the point really, Personally I’m interested in whether people think guys and girls actually look for different things in house and techno. I don’t believe they do, but then I’m quite hard line about stuff like this. I think any of these generalisations are just bullshit. Even if I watch a comedian and they start with the “men do this, women do that” shit I don’t find it funny.

    Clom, I agree this sexist idea is a notion that’s been around for ages. It’s a cliché, even. Thanks for the link, interesting article!

    Posted 28 Feb 2008 at 8:16 pm
  13. tom/pipecock wrote:

    understanding what goes into making a track is separate to me. when i am listening to a track in a club, i just react to it. when i have negative reactions, i go back later to find out what i didnt like about it. the same goes for hearing a track that i do react to, i later go and find out about it so i can learn more.

    Posted 28 Feb 2008 at 8:41 pm
  14. Ronan wrote:

    so it’s totally possible you could really like a track that employed some of the production techniques you hate, if it sounded good to you in a club?

    Posted 28 Feb 2008 at 8:43 pm
  15. tom/pipecock wrote:

    i do think that guys who are “into techno” look for different things than other people, be they male or female, who are not so into the ins and outs. what i like about the music i am into is that it is interesting enough that it is fun to talk about and learn about if youre a music nerd, but it also elicits immediate reactions in people even if you’re not into dance music. so many people have said things to me and my friends while we are deejaying to the effect of “i didn’t know dance music could be like this.” but that is because we look only at the final result when we pick tracks, not what is trendy, what “sounds good on a big system”, etc.

    Posted 28 Feb 2008 at 8:45 pm
  16. tom/pipecock wrote:

    sure, it is possible, but it would widely be the exception to the rule. i mean, i am not against computer production, some great artists use it as their primary tool (Soundhack springs to mind immediately), but the most egregious of the DSP wankery tracks are not gonna pass muster. if you can use things in a more subtle way, it will be way more effective for me.

    that said, i don’t think it is a coincidence that most tracks i like are made very simply.

    Posted 28 Feb 2008 at 8:53 pm
  17. mauricio / sirm wrote:

    hi, i just bumped into this blog and i like what i read, as everybody has different opinions about the BOY/GIRL dilemma, its the same in the dance floor, some guys love VOCAL HOUSE and some girls love PSYTRANCE for example, the point is WHY DO PEOPLE GO TO CLUBS?? some to listen to a DJ, other to dance, others looking to get laid, some just to socialize, other to get high, so it would be really hard to say that with HOUSE music girls will start dancing again, as a DJ i can say that girls (at least here in Honduras) usually go to clubs to DANCE, that being said, they will like more the music they can dance to, and react to it better. I think a good DJ will connect to people with any type of music, if the crowd can feel this, they will react to it.

    Posted 28 Feb 2008 at 9:37 pm
  18. mlt wrote:

    Well, I personally think that females tend to not be associated with sound design/IDM-ish music, if anything, because they have been excluded from it, not because of any sort of intrinsic (lack of) value. Males may be more drawn into it, but I think what’s important here is why? not just because.
    Also, I’m reading this very much about being about the ‘party environment, and really not about the music (i.e. limiting your musical selection in order to make it fit to gender-constraints) (which is not a good thing).

    Posted 28 Feb 2008 at 9:44 pm
  19. tom/pipecock wrote:

    “Also, I’m reading this very much about being about the ‘party environment, and really not about the music (i.e. limiting your musical selection in order to make it fit to gender-constraints) (which is not a good thing).”

    i think you are exactly wrong. this is about the environment, which is dictated by the music. and it is about NOT limiting the selection, the exact opposite of your conclusion.

    you should really read about Larry Levan and David Mancuso and the ways they fostered a party atmosphere in ways both musical and not. making people feel comfortable was huge to them!

    Posted 28 Feb 2008 at 9:54 pm
  20. kenny wrote:

    Jesus, talk about reading into things too much people. Mixed dancefloors are more fun, anyone will tell you that. It’s not creepy, or pervy, we all know its just one of those things. if your djing it’s a good thing that your not alienating a lot of the crowd. Whats creepy about that????

    Posted 28 Feb 2008 at 10:04 pm
  21. barry wrote:

    i have to agree with kenny on this one.the fact that a large majority of the dancefloor/club will be female anyways i dont really find it creepy that he said that at all.

    Posted 28 Feb 2008 at 10:14 pm
  22. Matt DC wrote:

    This is a bit of a red herring – blokes can be just as girly when it comes to dance music as, well, actual girls can. See for example global popularity of trance even now!

    That Venn diagram is cool, I think most people would agree the music they love the most is in the middle there, but surely the point of a lot of sets is that you build up to there? Like you keep it dry for ages and then drench the crowd with melody? Icing needs cake, basically.

    Posted 28 Feb 2008 at 11:40 pm
  23. geraldinedc wrote:

    i think that villalobos, used the word girls as a metaphore meaning to change mood, energy, so u can feel the music better

    Posted 29 Feb 2008 at 1:49 am
  24. geraldinedc wrote:


    Posted 29 Feb 2008 at 1:50 am
  25. Ronan wrote:

    pleasing the crowd=good

    assuming half the crowd only like one type of music based on their gender=a totally different matter.

    Posted 29 Feb 2008 at 2:14 am
  26. kenny wrote:

    Assuming thats exactly what he means from one small quote = silly.

    Posted 29 Feb 2008 at 5:04 am
  27. chrisdisco wrote:

    well the fact that our blog is called ‘mnml ssgs’ ( is a bit of a give away about what i/we think. techno and mnml can often be a bit of a sausage party. i make that comment not based on anything inherent in the music or the sexes, but just plenty of experience and observation. and i think that is basically what ricky is doing x1000. he has spent soooooooo much time behind the decks and working parties, i think this is an observation of his based on his experiences and knowledges of dancefloors.

    anyway, clearly he is generalising.
    storm in a teacup.

    Posted 29 Feb 2008 at 7:56 am
  28. Ronan wrote:

    @Kenny, it’s not Ricardo that’s important really, it’s the general idea which I reckon is quite common, but false.

    if you can find a meaning for what he says that doesn’t suggest “girls like house” then by all means explain it.

    if you think I’m damning him personally then I’m not, just using one small quote to discuss something which I reckon people want to discuss, judging by the comments from others it seems most people are interested too.

    what is your point exactly, “shut up, there is no prejudice in techno”. really illuminating stuff. sorry but I don’t see the harm in discussing this, or why any attempt to do so is a big deal.

    I agree with Chris actually, that it’s a throwaway comment, but the point is that he said it, and it’s probably the kind of thing lots of people might say casually. Plus it’s not a “storm in a teacup” in my opinion since all this is is a blogpost, not a political campaign or a petition or a damning indictment, but a discussion….

    I also think it’s a good point though, that maybe from DJing he has the “knowledge” that “girls like house” or something, it still seems really facile and silly though. I think it’s more likely that thinking about different styles of music and mixing as many as possible without losing pattern or direction is why he’s a good DJ.

    Posted 29 Feb 2008 at 9:43 am
  29. Claire wrote:

    Lady reader right here!

    Posted 29 Feb 2008 at 10:29 am
  30. Ronan wrote:

    shit I better put on some house :)

    Posted 29 Feb 2008 at 10:42 am
  31. pete wrote:

    I get the feeling that after DJing for years and years Ricardo knows what he’s talking about. I remember when he played Soundstream – Love Jam (really housey) a few years ago and girls just swarmed the dancefloor.

    Posted 29 Feb 2008 at 1:13 pm
  32. Chris wrote:

    Everyone should sit down, put on a Moodymann record and drink a fresh cup of coffee. Gender aside. Or tea, if you don’t like coffee. But not stormy tea. Wouldn’t it be better if the world was full of androgynous, caffeinated Moodymann fans? Don’t answer that.

    You know what the real issue is: people not dancing at clubs but standing in the middle of the dancefloor occupying precious dancing space, screaming nonsense at their mates whilst Theo Parrish is playing. That’s always annoying. Irrespective of gender. Not that I’ve had a recent experience of that or anything…

    I gotta add to my original comment tho that I do hate that sort of generalisation but I think, yeah, it’s just a silly off the cuff remark and as Geraldine said, it’s more likely a form of metaphor. I think any remark that closes the world down (which is what generalisations do) is going to annoy me. But we all talk shit at times, you know…

    Plus, only men would discuss a Villalobos quote from a blog at this length…

    Only kidding.

    Posted 29 Feb 2008 at 1:20 pm
  33. clom wrote:

    let me give an “amen” on the standing around on the dancefloor malarkey. the single most annoying thing in the world.

    even more annoying than bob sinclair.

    although i bet he gets the girls dancing.

    Posted 29 Feb 2008 at 2:02 pm
  34. ailbhe wrote:

    hi ronan, i’m really happy you brought this up actually as its something i’m always going on about!
    i can see where Villalobos is coming from but its a very general point of view. I myself have been listening to techno/elektro/minimal/house for years… i think my taste in music has really progressed with the development in the dance music scene. it seemed quite natural for me to take a liking to minimal just because it seemed like the next step. i’m always looking out for good female dj’s, as the scene is quite male dominated. When you look at some of the dj’s out there who are women Ellen Allen, Anja Schneider (she’s got a housey sound but its still got a glitchy minimal element to it), Magda being the obvious one and even Ada they all seem to have a rather minimal feel, you could say these female dj’s might motivate girls to give this kinda music a chance. I love minimal but i love house too… i think if that scene appeals to you it doesnt really matter if youre a girl or a boy, y’know?

    Posted 29 Feb 2008 at 5:28 pm
  35. kenny wrote:

    Villalapoopoo wants en even keel dancefloor that doesn’t forget the funk. This is basically what he is sayin, more than one person has said he is obviously generalising, probably becuase techno is seen as such a male dominated music both on the floor and in the booth.

    This is both creepy and prejudiced is it? Anyways, last im saying on it. bored.

    Posted 29 Feb 2008 at 10:13 pm
  36. G3RTY wrote:

    ” And Cassy in RA last year:

    “Some of the tracks are too techno so I can’t play them because all the girls leave. They’re like “Oh, techno” and then everyone starts crying. [plays track] This, for example, is too much for girls.”

    Reads like an old scene from Smack The Pony….: )

    Apologies for being silly about an interesting topic.

    Posted 01 Mar 2008 at 12:04 am
  37. Ronan wrote:

    what you say: “Villalapoopoo (hilarious, he has a foreign name!) wants en even keel dancefloor that doesn’t forget the funk. This is basically what he is sayin”

    what he said “some DJs have realized that it’s necessary to play house in between. Not all the time, but just to get the girls back to the dance floor.”

    Why mention girls if he meant what you said? Even if it’s accidentally silly it’s still silly. Your justification is far more complex than the quote, yet you accuse others of over-elaborating.

    PS: if you’re bored, perhaps you’re boring yourself. easy solution: don’t post here.

    Posted 01 Mar 2008 at 1:39 am
  38. RoK wrote:

    In other news, I visited Laurent Garnier@11 on thursday and he played so varied (from The Cure to deephouse, classics, acid and some tough techno and he ended with drum and bass) that the dancefloor stayed packed allnight long with a nice male-female ratio. Perhaps it is more important to play varied then to get caught up in your own heady style? I did not see any girls leave when he played his tougher records..

    Ricardo Villalobos was also heard saying some weeks ago @ Paradiso that he ‘just plays house’ and was tired of being categorized as a minimal artist. I can relate to that, in the end it is all ‘just house’.

    Posted 01 Mar 2008 at 7:54 am
  39. tom/pipecock wrote:

    yes, variety is always good. and yes, it is all house. you actually really get it. take notes, Ronan!

    Posted 01 Mar 2008 at 4:19 pm
  40. Ronan wrote:

    glad you agree that minimal is house too.

    Posted 01 Mar 2008 at 4:21 pm
  41. tom/pipecock wrote:

    it’s just another bastardized form of house, not unlike progressive or hard house. remembering where it comes from is the first step to eliminating the nonsense.

    Posted 01 Mar 2008 at 4:38 pm
  42. Ronan wrote:

    do you ever bore yourself? if not feel free to use this space to post some more.

    Posted 01 Mar 2008 at 4:39 pm
  43. tom/pipecock wrote:

    nah, i usually find myself pretty entertaining at the very least. every now and then, when i feel especially irritated, i can get REALLY entertaining, but i am nowhere near that point yet today.

    Posted 01 Mar 2008 at 4:43 pm
  44. ray wrote:

    c’mon……….who really cares…….fashionable herberts kill any scene F.A.C.T…….minimal[dont make me laugh] is non!!!!!! house and techno music takes many forms and brings out the best in people!!!!! its only shitty when people take the music we love toooo seriously, lighten up its ony HOUSE MUSIC! and it always will be………


    btw…….hey ronan maybe you should have been at panorama on sunday! it was ”SEHR KUHL”!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


    Posted 01 Mar 2008 at 9:38 pm
  45. chrisdisco wrote:

    i think there is a bit of a danger of getting too caught up in the details of what ricky said and missing the larger picture. there are plenty of gendered dimensions to mnnl/techno/house and most are more serious than ricky’s comment (or even what thinking it may reflect). for starters:
    – why is there such a low ratio of female producers and djs?
    – why is it that all female djs have their looks commented on in a way that never happens for most male djs?
    – how long before people will stop using the retarded phrase ‘djane’?
    – more basically, why is this music so male dominated in pretty much all facets?

    and so on…

    Posted 01 Mar 2008 at 11:30 pm
  46. PC/dysconnect wrote:

    Hey people,

    I just uploaded a Q&A Terre Thaemlitz and I did together. There’s a point in the interview which is relevant to this…

    I asked him: “I wonder about gender in electronic music… Although largely a genre without lyrics, techno and electro (especially 80s-influenced electro) seems to tend toward an idea of toughness, masculine hardness, one that seems to contain an incipient homophobia that expresses itself through a distain toward (or rejection of) disco and house. I would even argue that this overwhelmed and killed the drum’n’bass scene, which became so ‘dark’ and ‘hard’ that the girls stopped dancing… House DJs often play techno, but in my experience many purist techno DJs distain house, and it appears to be a rejection of the music on the basis that it’s ‘poofy’, ‘sissy’, ‘faggy’ etc. I wonder what you make of that.”

    TT: “Actually, I was just having an email exchange along these lines with Dont Rhine of Ultra Red, who is currently doing some teaching at a university in Chicago. He was talking about how there are absolutely no traces of the Chicago house scene. No DJs, clubs, record stores, radio stations or anything. Compared to the homophobic ‘Disco Sucks’ campaigns of his youth, house music died a more passive death of neglect and silence that he links to AIDS, racism and Right Wing reactionary shifts. He was talking about how the death of house is such a metaphor for the genocide of queers in the ’80s and ’90s, and no one wants to hear.

    Although I was a hardcore Techno-Pop fan in my youth, it was precisely the ‘straight, white’ tendencies of New York techno culture you pointed out that made it completely unappealing to me. I just fucking hated techno. It ruined so much electronic music for me, which is really depressing.”

    And you can read the rest at

    Posted 02 Mar 2008 at 2:53 am
  47. jacobw wrote:

    Never mind whether it’s silly or not, I think this statement needs to be proved or disproved empirically. If everyone reading this post goes out next weekend and counts the number of each gender on the dancefloor and records what was playing at the time we should be able to put this issue to bed once and for all.

    Posted 02 Mar 2008 at 11:58 pm
  48. Ronan wrote:

    Hey Peter/Chris, sorry was away so had to approve those comments just now.

    Interesting stuff from that interview, thanks for that. I always found the hard techno thing (especially very early 00s like Billy Nasty/Dave Clarke etc) to be really awful when I was growing up. I guess Clarke could be okay and you’d discover some good records but generally it was shit. I much preferred seeing someone like Garnier back then who always played house and would get you interested in good music. Though the clubs were just all guys and it felt like everyone was ready to criticise the music the very second someone allowed some art (or melody or anything at all) into it. I mean even metal has personality. Conversely that sound gets a relatively free ride from historical revisionism cos it’s not even interesting enough to truly make a mockery of.

    At the same time I tend to find arguments that say house was a victim of American homophobia a little too facile.

    I agree with you Chris that those are the huge questions that need answering here (though do people really say “DJane” still? DJesus Christ!) I guess I was keen to see if starting with a subtle example of someone casually suggesting serious techno is a male thing would lead to these other ideas coming up.

    Though of course the answers to your questions aren’t so easy to come up with.

    Posted 04 Mar 2008 at 9:23 am
  49. Ronan wrote:

    – why is there such a low ratio of female producers and djs?

    probably same reason there is a low ration of female rockstars or female chefs or whatever, but impossible to answer succinctly.

    – why is it that all female djs have their looks commented on in a way that never happens for most male djs?

    Yep I think you see Magda or somebody discussed with “not bad looking either” constantly, it’s pathetic. I guess because way more straight guys like the music so forums for discussion tend to be a bit locker room.

    – how long before people will stop using the retarded phrase ‘djane’?

    too long, however long!

    – more basically, why is this music so male dominated in pretty much all facets?

    again…seems just part of a wider pattern isn’t it? I think it’s a shame dance music, having broken a lot of the patterns of the music industry in terms of how it’s consumed, produced, and discussed, hasn’t really broken this one.

    Posted 04 Mar 2008 at 9:34 am
  50. JacobW wrote:

    I think one of the interesting things here is that it’s really only dance music that we can actually comment on in this way. Because it constantly evolves sonically and you can watch how these sonic changes affect the dancefloor, in real-time, people can observe gender effects.

    It’s not like the Beatles, for example, could have noticed that The White Album was ‘male’…

    If we can put aside issues as to whether gender discussions in music are appropriate or reflect prejudices, I think it’s interesting to observe the trajectories of different scenes.

    e.g. UK garage became gradually more ‘feminine’ up until its commercial peak (‘flowers’ etc), then got gradually more ‘masculine’ until we ended up with dubstep and grime…

    Is this the normal trajectory? Or does it vary?

    Posted 06 Mar 2008 at 3:02 am
  51. todd wrote:

    “why is there such a low ratio of female producers and djs?”

    don’t know about you but my mom was kinda busy raising me (i debate this fact though).

    as men we’re given all the freedom in the world to pursue every hair-brained idea that pops into our minds. women don’t have this luxury, they actually need to get shit done. it doesn’t bother me that men dominate certain jobs/industries, we’re both part of the same species, at least it’s a human being doing it !

    Posted 06 Mar 2008 at 5:38 am
  52. Ronan wrote:

    “Because it constantly evolves sonically and you can watch how these sonic changes affect the dancefloor, in real-time, people can observe gender effects.”

    Watch yes, empirically observe or record without bias, no.

    Posted 06 Mar 2008 at 9:24 am

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