Meet Dublin’s new all-female DJ collective: Puzzy Wrangler

Words: Eva O’Beirne

Photography: Charlie Connor

Dublin’s nightlife is constantly evolving. From hidden club nights to new collectives, we’re tracking the capital’s culture to find your next essential night out.

Puzzy Wrangler has been around for less than a year, but they already have a bi-monthly residency in the Chelsea Drugstore on George’s Street. Based out of Trinity College Dublin, they sat down with District to talk about female representation in Ireland’s DJ scene, Dublin nightlife post-Covid and where their eye-catching name and aesthetic comes from.

“Honestly, it started as a bit of a joke,” says Puzzy Wrangler member Aisling Smith O’Connor on the collective’s name. She is joined by fellow members Sinead Hogan and Maria Lee. All Trinity students, they founded Puzzy Wrangler on a whim along with friends Grace Kneafsey and Sarah Williams during Trinity’s Women’s Week in October 2021.

“We then made an Instagram account for it,” Aisling continues. “So we were like ‘oh well now we definitely have to follow through with this.”

After a few jokes about being “Instagram official”, Maria mentions how being on social media made the group realise how much people wanted to see female DJs in Trinity.

“And being a collective, it meant that people now had access to find female DJs for events and gigs,” says Maria. “We all realised that we should be a bit more serious because of the opportunities we were given.”

All three members note that the DJ scene in Dublin can be very intimidating, especially for female beginners. But their recent rise in popularity, they hope, will dismantle the idea of what a DJ should be and should play in a club.

Since that one event with Dublin University DJ society, the Puzzy Wrangler members have played at numerous Trinity society events such as the DU Players ball as well as their regular sets at the Chelsea Drugstore.

Photography: Charlie Conner

But the collective is more than a group that plays on nights out. It is an opportunity for the members to learn from each other, without fear of any misogyny or pressure to play certain types of music. Aisling and Sinead note their use of “crowd-pleasers” in their sets which help get crowds going. “If someone in the crowd asks for us to play ABBA, we’ll play ABBA,” jokes Aisling.

All three members note how they constantly learn from one another when it comes to playing live. Learning in the moment, getting club experience and breaking the rules of what it means to be a Dublin DJ is paramount to what Puzzy Wrangler stands for.

With printed unique t-shirts, the collective has a clear uniform as well as an ideology. Safety and having a good time are central to the Puzzy Wrangler experience, but all three members have noticed that safety on nights out is becoming an ever-present issue. Developing a healthy atmosphere where attendees can feel comfortable is part of their long-term plans for the future.

The friendly nature and accessibility of Puzzy Wrangler have already allowed two female DJs to approach the group to open for them on their nights out. Sinead explains how it’s so important for beginner DJs to “get experience playing in front of people” as it is a “huge barrier” to novices.

Maria also notes their desire as a collective to welcome more non-binary people and trans women into the community and to use their recent platforming by societies as a way to give gender minorities opportunities that they are often overlooked for.

Photography: Charlie Conner

The idea that female creatives are subject to tokenism when it comes to representation is very much on the minds of Puzzy Wrangler.

“I think we’ve all thought at some point that we’re only being asked to do events because we’re all women,” says Aisling. “We tick a box and help make an event look progressive. Any representation is good representation but it is hard sometimes to look at other female DJs not getting the same opportunities as us.”

“We are beginners, that’s undeniable. And it can be really disheartening to see really skilled female and non-binary DJs being ignored,” she continues.

The Irish music industry has been under fire for many years for not promoting a gender balance in festival line-ups, radio streaming and opportunities for female and non-binary musicians and artists. Electric Picnic, Ireland’s biggest festival, has one female headliner out of six. In 2020, 85 per cent of acts in the top 100 Irish radio airplay chart were men.

All three members immediately agree that a dedicated club night where women and non-binary people can platform and celebrate each other continuously is on the agenda for the collective.

“It’s about having fun, it’s about having a woman on the decks and getting people up dancing”

Puzzy Wrangler
Puzzy Wrangler’s T-Shirts, made by Sinead

As for what is next for Puzzy Wrangler, they all believe there are no limits to what they can do. They’re due to play at a USI event this month and plan to continue their club nights for as long as they can.

To keep up with the collective, you can follow their Instagram page.

Alternatively, you can go for a bop with Puzzy Wrangler on Monday April 4 in the Chelsea Drugstore.

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