CHICA GANG & BALLANTINE’S: HOW IT BEGAN
“The first time we collaborated with Ballantine’s was in April, 2019”, recalls Alba, one of the core members of Chica Gang. Founded by her, Rocio, and Flaca Bang (who’s no longer part of the group), Chica Gang is a platform they created to promote more inclusive line-ups and safe spaces in Madrid’s nightlife. Their first contact with Stay True was through the short documentary about Madrid’s perreo scene commissioned by Ballantine’s and DJ Mag, and then at Madrid’s Boiler Room x Ballantine’s Stay True party.
“Then, they contacted us to collaborate again and they told us about the Stay True Fund, how they were looking artists across the globe that could give their perspective on how was the COVID-19 pandemic for the dancefloors, clubs and collectives”, says Rocío, the other half of Chica. It was also a perfect time, as dancefloors were starting to open again and for Chica Gang, retaking the conversation about more inclusive and safer spaces was a priority. Specially because many of the collectives that were active across Spain in these terms have vanished. “Since they told us about the True Music Fund it has felt like a gift, because we are noticing that in Spain, many of our peer collectives have disappeared. Having the opportunity to give an economic injection to people that we consider are doing things right, independently and out of love, seemed amazing. Specially because they are trusting us the power to choose and our criteria”, remarks Rocio. “It will be great to see the evolution of this project from now on, thanks to the True Music Fund”.
AND THE FUNDS GO TO… SIN SYNC
After long debating, Chica Gang awarded their part of the True Music Fund to Sin Sync (translated Without Sync), a Barcelona-based feminist, non-binary, decolonial DJ school aimed towards women and beginners.
Sin Sync was founded in 2018 by Venezuelan-Chilean visual artist, DJ and producer Isamit Morales, not long after moving to Barcelona. It was first a pilot workshop she did as part of her residency project in Hangar, Barcelona (an art development & research facility), that evolved from there due to the own nature of the project.
She started DJing shortly after moving to Barcelona, under her La Niña Jacarandá alias, and she recalls how, after performing at her gigs, girls approached her and asked how she learnt to DJ. “It was girls, all the time. And it’s because there weren’t spaces dedicated specifically to women or queer people. That’s why I decided to create my own school, as I wanted”, remarks Isamit, as she explains how Sin Sync is not just centered around electronic music as most music academies, but also on other genres. Also, despite the fact that it is an openly non-binary, queer and trans friendly school, they also accept cis-gender men. But they have to pass the test! “We ask every student to answer two questions before entering and in case you’re a cis-gender male, there is a third question: ‘Explain briefly, how would you put in practice your support for feminism during our classes?’. By answering that we already know if a cis-male fits with the school’s ethos”.
Sin Sync is now housed in another venue, Barcelona’s Sala Vol, since 2019. This, according to Isamit, has happened thanks to the involvement of one of her friends, Marrocan-Spanish artist Ikram Bouloum, as well as the people at L’Afluent collective, which manages the new venue. “Ikram was basically who told me to approach the people at Sala Vol, as they have the space unused during the week, and only use it for events during nights and weekends”, recalls Isamit Morales. Also, being housed at Sala Vol allows Sin Sync to host their own parties, Prom Party, in which the students can test their skills in a real club environment. She also has a radio show at Dublab, where some of the students get to share their works too. Then, COVID came. But with Isamit’s fighting spirit, she managed along her small yet amazing team to transform the teaching method and adapt it for online courses.
THE DECISION: WHY SIN SYNC?
And how does the roads of Chica Gang and Isamit Morales/Sin Sync crossed? As everything nowadays: through Instagram. “I recall liking a post from Flaca Bang, who then was still a member of Chica Gang, about feminism and music. And from there we started talking from time to time. We also connected with Alba and Rocio and saw their work at BamBam”, says Isamit.
“We then discovered we had a bunch of friends in common”, says Rocio. “We had BamBam – a feminist, queer-friendly educational music/DJ program taught by Chica Gang at Madrid’s La Casa Encendida – going on for a while already and we thought it was amazing that someone was doing something similar in Barcelona. The funny thing is that neither Alba or me have met Isamit in person”. Yet they trust her and Sin Sync blindly, as she explains how strong are the connections created when doing educational projects like theirs. “It’s just magic!”, states Rocio.
She goes on to say that they feel empathy with Isamit and the project, as they have lived the same struggles with their own ventures. “With BamBam we have experienced the power of learning in group, of coming together to learn. Having the right tools for that is the most important thing, because this creates a community. And when a community learns together, the bonds created are very strong and everyone will spread the message and the knowledge”, says Rocio. They have seen it, as BamBam alumni are already doing their own parties together. “The aim is to create chains of opportunities for emerging female talent in the music scene. The results are great, but the most gratifying thing is walking the road with your sisters. And Sin Sync is just starting their journey!”, concludes.
AND NOW WHAT?
Chica Gang made their choice and now Sin Sync is being granted £10,000 from the Ballantine’s True Music Fund. “I really thought the email was not right a first. I just couldn’t believe it!”, remembers Isamit. “This funds are really going to help us grow in the direction that we wanted, without compromising the ethos of the school”, she continues, “First of all, I want to hire new members for our team, because everything we do is mostly me (laughs)”.
Isamit also wants to improve the equipment and buy new pieces of kit, so the new students can benefit from the most updated technology. Another priority for the school, especially after everything that has happened during COVID, is to stablish a fully functioning online platform. “It is very important for us to launch our online teaching platform to share our online courses”, says Isamit, that also recognizes that during pandemic, some of the online students came from South America.
Finally, one of Isamit’s dreams is to be able to grant scholarships to students in need. “This is very important for us as school, as there are many potential students that maybe aren’t able to pay the fees, even if they’re cheap. We want to give opportunities to the ones that need it the most”, she says.
With the True Music Fund, Sin Sync is guaranteeing not only its survival, but its growth. And with it also comes the personal and artistic growth of all the women and queer people that had learnt, are learning and will learn the art and craft of DJing and the wonders of music thanks to Isamit and her team.
In the end, it’s all about creating communities with strong bonds, in which everyone feels safe to express themselves. A more diverse scene is closer. “Maybe it already exists, and it’s the one with best connections. I perceive there is empathy and a collective experience. We just need spaces”, says Rocio. Maybe it’s time to create them…
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