Egypt's women DJs creating inclusive dance floors

Laser beams illuminate a darkened restaurant turned dance hall in Cairo as revelers move to thumping beats from female DJs - part of a generation of women shaking up Egypt's underground electronic music scene.

"All my life, I've seen men behind the decks," said party-goer Menna Shanab, 26, as psychedelic visuals reflected off the waters at the Nile-side venue.

"It's good to see the music scene evolving," said the young Cairo resident, decked out in fashionable streetwear.

In Egypt's patriarchal society, the music industry remains male-dominated, while the conservative country's cultural establishment marginalizes and even bans electronic music artists.

Female party-goers for years have complained about harassment on the dance floor, while many revelers find mainstream venues too pricey.

Now, a generation of young women DJs are forging their own path, seeking to create more inclusive spaces for performers and party-goers alike.

A small but vibrant electronic music scene is "booming" in the Egyptian capital, according Yemeni music journalist and occasional DJ Hala K, asking like others AFP interviewed to be identified only by her stage name.

"A lot of female talents feel more confident and empowered to pursue DJing," the Amsterdam-based Hala K said by telephone.

Aspiring artists are taking inspiration from female DJs from the region, she added, such as Palestinian Sama Abdulhadi, who has performed from Egypt to France and at premier US festival Coachella.

In Cairo, there are "powerful, talented women at the turntables: they know how to make people dance," Hala K said.

DJ and promoter A7ba-L-Jelly decided to establish her own collective as part of making the underground electronic dance music scene...

Continue reading on: