A stranger’s backyard, a city you don’t live in, this is the narrative you find yourself in on a Friday night in order to hear some local music. The underground music scene exists away from the public eye. Every weekend somewhere in your city there are shows being held in homemade spaces where music is played and art displayed. The DIY scene is everywhere.
This tight community is basically a second family to those to participate in it.
In Whittier, California lies a tight-knit DIY scene where guys and girls of ages as young as middle schoolers and as old as twenty-somethings come together for local art, friendship and a good time. The heart of this DIY scene thrives on independent spaces, production companies, and collectives. This means garages, backyards, living rooms and other self-created spaces become areas that bring individuals together for a night of music and art. This tight community is basically a second family to those to participate in it.
In Whittier’s DIY scene there is an all girl collective known as The Venus Collective. Their goal, very clearly stated on their website, is to provide a safe creative space for the talented, artistic, DIY driven girls in the local area. I wondered why a scene as open-minded, tight-knit and welcoming would need an all-girl collective, but quickly learned, just like many other things in life, this scene is also a male dominated one.
The Venus Collective was established in 2016 in Whittier, California by Samantha Herrera. The collective started because she wanted to organize shows but couldn’t find fulfilling opportunities to do so. Instead of giving up, she decided to do it herself. Her efforts quickly refocused into a way to help other girls thrive too.
“The collective was started to help girls find their place in this scene. I don’t want to say that there’s a lot of sexism but unfortunately, a lot of guys do look down on girls in this scene,” says Samantha. “I’ve reached out to guys in the scene for shows and I’ve been hit on. I’ve been dismissed. That’s not what I wanted and it just turns into a lost opportunity.”
The collective is made up of 16 girls ranging in ages 17-22 from different cities and a variety of artistic backgrounds. There are photographers, illustrators, designers, artists, and musicians, all of whom have teamed up to collaborate on music & art shows, videos, promotions, and more.
Together they’ve organized successful shows featuring prominent local line ups. They take care of everything and try their best to work with as many females they can to organize their shows.
“I don’t want to kick guys out of this but this is just to take a moment to help more girls involved before I work with guys,” -Samantha Herrera, The Venus Collective founder
The guys have a better advantage in this underground movement. There’s a lot of male promoters, male-lead bands, male-lead productions, but the girls in The Venus Collective want to make sure girls aren’t left out in any aspect of the process. It’s not about excluding boys, but about giving girls an equal opportunity to participate without a hassle.
“This scene is super male driven and I don’t mind it. I’m not one to have an issue with that or complain but I just believe girls should be able to throw shows in this scene without seeming lesser than guys.” We hear you Sam!
At each show, the collective likes to create a safe space for girls.
The female experience in the DIY scene differs from the male experience. The Venus Collective welcomes everyone at their shows, they are not exclusive to females but they do prioritize giving females the best experience possible. At each show the collective likes to create a safe space for girls. This means kicking people out for being disrespectful or not following the rules.
This can be tough because then the collective can come under scrutiny for it, but Sam and the girls think it’s worth it. Their priority, no matter what, is making sure their shows are comfortable for those attending.
Apart from organizing shows the collective has also become a great way for the girls to keep producing their art and getting exposure. They collaborate on almost everything they produce. Whether they need a photographer or an illustrator they’ve got it. It’s all about highlighting one another’s talents.
“It’s hard getting noticed and to get people to hire you but here you’re getting promoted,” -Melody Martinez, The Venus Collective photographer
This is a collective of girls hyping each other up, creating things together, and being an overall support system for one another. Being a girl in the DIY art scene is subjective because every single one of them has their own personal, unique experience in it. It’s important to remember that female artists of every kind should be considered and taken as seriously as their counterparts.
The Venus Collective wasn’t started in order to get special treatment or as a forum to complain and exclude guys. There’s enough space for both males and females to create and collaborate on art… but females get it done.