When You’re The Only Black Kids At The Party…

The music is always the main concern when attending “UDM” events, yet its also not too difficult to quickly realize that no one there looks like you.

If your anything like me, (a Black person involved in UDM) I’m sure your familiar with those oh so many times when you look around the room and notice that your the only Black guy or girl at the party. Of course, the music is always the main concern when attending “UDM” events, yet its also not too difficult to quickly realize that no one there looks like you. By the grace of the good old lord, every once in a while, you have that defining moment when you stumble across one of your fellow brothers or sisters and begin to feel an equal sense of comfort, curiosity, and excitement.
From there a series of questions run through your mind; Should I say hello? Do they notice me too? Are they nice? Are they just as relived to see me?  To which I’m sure the answer to all is “Yes”! (Although there have been times when they didn’t seem to give damn about me being there…lol) but more often than not, I felt like they were just as aware of my presence as I was of theirs. For my non-Black readers, please don’t get the wrong idea, I love everyone, and don’t mind being the only Black chick in the crowd, its often my inevitable fate, yet I will always confidently admit that I do wish there were more Black people at some the UDM events I attend. It offers a sense of comfort in an environment where unfortunately Black peoples very presence is often questioned. You could only imagine the shit I’ve heard over the years; “Do you even know who this DJ is”? “Why are you here?”, “You actually like this kind of music”?  To which sometimes I can only respond with an eye roll. Its crazy to think people will actually question our presence in an environment we basically created. Sigh……………………………..
Over the years of having these random encounters with the Black people at UDM parties I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and connecting with some amazing human beings. Some of which who are involved through strictly being music a head, and some of who are involved through various platforms including online radio, DJing and producing. I recall meeting one of my now best friends, DJ and producer Stefan Ringer at a local Techno party here in Atlanta called “Wiggle Factor”. He calmly approached me and said “Hey, umm…I think we’re like the only Black people in here”. I laughed, and confirmed his statement, while failing to admit that I had noticed him about an hour prior, and had been peeping him every since…LOL. We chopped it up for the rest of the night and the rest is history, we’ve been close ever since, and DJ together at party we throw here in Atlanta called Expressions.
Another encounter I had was at Club Output in NYC back in 2013, when I met a nice dreaded gentlemen named Pablo under pretty much the same circumstances that Stefan and I had met; the only Black kids (or very few) at the party. We started talking, getting to know one another, and from that night on Pablo pretty much ended up being my NYC tour guide for the duration of my 4th of July weekend. We walked, talked, rode trains, rode buses, and danced the day away at parties like the infamous Warm-Up at MOMA PS1…it was lovely! I admit I haven’t seen Pablo in some years, but are still in touch, and chat often via social media platforms. It was so special to meet someone like myself who was passionate about the music, and equally happy to meet another POC who shared the same interest. We even discussed the idea of both of us DJing in the future, to which I am happy to say we both are currently doing/pursuing. Pablo is currently a DJ & Radio presenter on NYC based WAXX.FM, and was kind enough to invite me to do a guest mix for them, which is featured below! The relationships I’ve made under these circumstances may seem shallow to some, but to me are important, and prove a very important message; we sometimes feel alone and underrepresented at these events, and simply want to connect. Hey, its not always easy being #UndergroundAndBlack.
As I mentioned above, UDM is for everyone of all colors, sizes, and backgrounds, thats one of things I love about it most. Yet this doesn’t take away from the fact that the Black presence on the modern day UDM scene is scarce, and that it feels good to realize that you aren’t the only one; that theres other people out there who look you that are passionate about the same thing. Black people, next time your at a party and see that fellow Black kid, give em that “black nod of acknowledgment” we all know so well… there may not be a lot of us, but lets shout out the ones who are the current faces and reminders that Techno and House is not, nor has ever been, “white people music”. Oh, and for the non-POC’s out there, please have some respect and do your homework before you question us about why we’re here. We ALL belong here, and should never have to give an explanation for that. The reasoning is obvious: the love of the Underground Dance Music….
-ASH ❤
***Enjoy my mix for  NYC’s waxx.fm with some of favorite tracks from the likes of Fred P., Patrice Scott, and Dj Aakmael.***

Black Girl in a Material World.

Underground dance music lacks those superficial elements that are glorified in todays culture, so it must not be “cool”, right? WRONG.

I often wonder if my friends “outside of the scene” wonder what my infatuation with Underground Dance Music exactly is? I mean, how cool could it be? People smiling, dancing, laughing, expressing themselves; a diverse crowd of people of different ages, colors, and sizes, some of them speaking different dialects. A place where people look out for one another, and a place where strangers often become friends. A place where you can be your damn self…Wait, that actually does sound cool, right? Thats what one would think, but is not always the case, which is why I don’t understand why so many Black people aren’t willing to embrace these types of environments.

Rewind to last night, I’m sitting in a hip hop club in full make-up and heels, squeezed into a booth with my friends, with Migos “Bad and Bougie” as the soundtrack. Bottles of Hennessy, Patron and Champagne flow freely as we breathe in the oh so familiar scent of chicken wings and Kush that bring me back to my younger days in Atlanta. It was a close friend of mines Birthday celebration, so I agreed to attend, and as expected, my anxiety going into it wasn’t the most the pleasant experience. As I stare at myself in the mirror:  “Hmm, what will I wear, how will I do my hair, what jewelry should I wear…fuck, my nails aren’t done!?” A chick like me is used to pretty much throwing on some chucks and lip gloss and walking out the damn door. Not tonight though, thats not acceptable in the world of “Black Hollywood”…Nonetheless, I was excited to see old friends, and I figured how bad could it be? Its only 3 hours of my life, I’ll survive. (Fingers crossed.)

My girl Shani rode with me to the festivities, and I opted not to take uber beacuse I wanted to be able to get the fuck out of there as soon as it was possible. Boy, was that a stupid decision. As we pulled up towards the Midtown Atlanta club, I see a line wrapped around the door and bunch of girls standing in the rain barely inching towards the door. I laugh. We proceed to drive around in circles looking for a parking spot until we finally come across a lot across the street from the club, score! We pull in, the attendant walks up and very nicely says “80.00$” ladies”. WHAT IN THE ENTIRE FUCK???!!! I’m literally in shock as this man really thought I was going spend $80.00 to park my car just to walk into a club! What boggled my mind even further is that people were actually parking there. Look, I don’t know about yall, but even if I had $80.00 to blow I most definitely wouldn’t spend that shit on parking my damn car! I zoom the fuck off, and we spend another 15 or so minutes looking for parking. FINALLY, we find some secure parking in a nearby high rise and the attendant charges us 25.00$, which I was still pretty annoyed about. Its not the money I was annoyed about, yet the principal that these people were choosing to rip people off because they realize parking options for the club are limited, and figure the “ballers” will pay it (which they do)…pretty disgusting if you ask me. Oh how I missed my usual (and free) Edgewood Ave parking in that moment. Sigh.

After the parking shenanigans, we finally find the rest of my crew and we walk thru the VIP entrance and are escorted to our private booth, well kinda private, we’re still squeezed in next to the some other booth purchasers who have a table next to us. For the first 30 minutes or so I felt like I was at the movies, like I was in the movie, but I was also watching the movie. Girls twerking, blunts being rolled, an uncomfortable amount of selfies being taken. Where am I? My friends boyfriend proceeds to pass me a blunt and I inhale…damn this feels good, but now I’m high, and now I’m really observing the coonery that surrounds me. I couldn’t help but to question why this type of environment is so rewarding to so many of us? Theres absolutely nothing intriguing about it, and its beyond superficial. Everyone in their “Sundays best”, which really is just a bunch of name brand bullshit they more than likely can’t afford. Oh, and of course every song thats played has to reference “thick bitches”, “red bones”, “purple drank”, and “good weed”, which in itself proves just how much of an influence certain music is having on modern day culture. It seems like everyone wants to emulate those lyrics, or what they saw on TV.

As the night went on there was a point when the DJ got on the mic and started telling the ladies to point out their “thickest friend”, and proceeds to play a song that I can only assume is called “Thick”. And we wonder why we got all these young girls out here trying to get ass shots, and breast enhancements & shit….welp. Some of the things modern day Black culture praises is absolutely mind blowing. Don’t get me wrong, I know my sisters are known for being curvy, and I don’t see anything wrong with celebrating that, but the way people are going about it is completely inappropriate, and has the potential to be detrimental. There are so many young and insecure little girls out there who have these lyrics fed to them via radio, internet, and cell phone on a daily basis. What message are we sending them? What happened to celebrating who the fuck you are? What happened to celebrating your goals and achievements? I’m sorry yall, but having a “fat ass” isn’t an achievement. Between the parking, trap music, and excess of snapchat filters I felt exhausted. It was too much; everyone trying so hard to prove or portray something. In that very club though, I realized just how much I’d grown over the years and suddenly began to feel a sense of peace. I mean, I was only in that club to celebrate my friends Birthday anyway, so thats what I decided to focus on for the duration of the night.

I guess last night just made me realize why I LOVE the fuck out of the underground dance music scene. Its not about being “seen”, its not about portraying an image, its not about “stuntin for the gram”…its about music, unity, and the celebration of life. I’m aware that different people have different definitions of celebrating life, but I’m choosing the latter. This issue also stems back to the struggle of younger Black representation in dance music; it seems as though they truly aren’t interested. Is it the lack of glitz and glamor? Is there not enough talk of cars and clothes? Are there not enough derogatory lyrics in the music? Underground dance music lacks those superficial elements that are glorified in todays culture, so it must not be “cool”, right? WRONG. Its disheartening if you ask me, but hey, what can I do? In this case, I simply can find peace in knowing that I can see through those smoke and mirrors and see who I am, what I represent, and what I’m about. I can see myself; a strong and intelligent black woman who’s priorities have nothing to do with a fat ass or the perfect selfie.

Learn to Love Yourself.

-ASH ❤

Getting Acquainted.

The number of “millennial” POC DJing, producing, and promoting dance music is staggeringly low, and I want to change that; but how does one change that in a world where most Black kids rather hear Future or Beyonce, and think Techno is “white people music”?

Hmm, where shall I begin? Well, I suppose I figured it was high time I placed my opinions, experiences, etc. somewhere a bit more relevant, (and a lot less superficial) than Facebook or Twitter. Being a modern day Black woman, I have a lot of say, and I think there might be some people out there who actually give a damn. First let me introduce myself, so you can get a better idea of who I am and what I’m about. In this blog I’ll try to be as transparent as possible, which I’m hoping will be therapeutic for me, and authentic for you.

My name is Ashleigh Teasley, aka Ash Lauryn, and I’m an up and coming DJ from Detroit, Michigan, who’s currently based in Atlanta, GA. I currently work in the customer service/hospitality field and am at point where I’m willing to do whatever it takes to escape the monotony of the 9-5 life. Don’t get me wrong, my job can be fun/cool at times, but the thought of not having to sit at a desk for 40 hours a week seems more than appealing. That being said, I’m finally starting to get a little buzz around my name as a DJ which I’m equally  proud and happy about. I’m aware that I’m barely ankle deep in the industry, but I’m further than I was a year ago, or even a few months ago, so I can’t complain.
I’m choosing to focus this blog mainly on my experiences as a new DJ, POC, and Female POC, trying to strive in the Electronic Music world (and a few other odds and ends). With all the female collectives, DJs, and producers, finally getting some respect and shine, I feel blessed to have entered the game at such an empowering time. What better time to express my experiences than when people are finally starting to pay attention? In terms of being a POC in Electronic Music, I feel like my presence is necessary; mainly because we live in a world where Black Music is constantly subjected to “white washing”, and I’m tired of it. We also must deal with the sobering fact that a lot of our Black hero’s in Electronic Music will retire at some point, and the torch will need to be carried on. This fact in itself has caused a sense of urgency within me to keep their (our) legacy alive. The number of “millennial” POC DJing, producing, and promoting dance music is staggeringly low, and I want to change that; but how does one change that in a world where most Black kids rather hear Future or Beyonce, and think Techno is “white people music”? I’m yet to figure out the answer, but in the mean time I’d like to start some sort of dialogue on these topics, and perhaps even one day be able to make some type of difference in expanding our representation in dance music.  Where is our future representation in dance music?
In closing, if you’ve managed to read this far, I’m pleased, and I want to to know that I’m dedicated to my cause. Underground Dance Music is my life, and anything I can do contribute to the preservation of this culture, I plan to act upon.  I’m going to be documenting my experiences Movement Festival weekend in Detroit, and giving you a taste of what it’s like for me attending the festival for the first time as a DJ. In the coming months I also plan to conduct some interviews, and showcase mixes courtesy of friends and new friends alike. Feel free to follow me on my other social media outlets to be updated on new blog posts, mixes, etc. Thanks again for reading, and much love to you and yours!
-ASH ❤