Sarra Wild (OH141) – 'Representation and feeling represented in a club is huge for me'

Sarra Wild – 'Representation and feeling represented in a club is huge for me'

credit: Trackie McLeod

Co-founder of OH141 tells us why representation and safe spaces are vital to the future of our nightlife and clubbing communities

To say that clubs can be transformative spaces is not an exaggeration. For many, they are the focal point of a city, responsible for fostering a sense of community, identity and collective spirit. But this isn't always the case, especially for minorities who often lack inclusion and equality in these environments.

Sarra Wild, DJ, promoter and boss of club night and collective OH141, is well aware of this dichotomy, particularly in Glasgow. 'I saw that there was a lack of women getting represented, along with a huge lack of people of colour and members of the queer community. It was basically straight white dudes wherever you went. I got a bit sick of it so I started OH141 to give those exact people a platform and opportunities to play.'

In an incredibly short period of time, OH141 has blossomed from a club night to a radio show, a host of panel discussions, DJ workshops and more. 'It's been a year and a half and so much has happened,' Sarra explains. 'I think it's just because what I'm trying to do speaks to so many people.'

Having worked behind the scenes in clubs for some time, Sarra's decision to start her own night was down to her belief in creating the kind of club environment that embraces a more diverse group of people. 'Representation and feeling represented in a club is huge for me. When I first started putting on nights, I never once thought about DJing until I saw other women of colour behind the decks. I remember seeing Honey Dijon, who is a trans black woman, behind the decks and I was in awe.'

Along with creating a safe space for people of all backgrounds, ages and experiences with OH141, Sarra has been involved with hosting workshops through Grassroots Glasgow, which aims to improve representation in electronic music by providing support to women, people of colour and members of the LGBTQ+ community.

'I figured, what better way to get more POC people, queer people and women involved in the scene? Obviously, for me as a woman of colour, that was one of my main aims. Because I know how hard it is to believe in yourself let alone to make other people believe in you.'

With the goal of teaching the basics and providing access to decks, the six-week workshops proved a massive success, resulting in five of the attendees playing their very own club night for the first time.

Sarra Wild – 'Representation and feeling represented in a club is huge for me'

'At that gig, it was five girls who had never touched a deck before and six weeks later, they were badder than most dudes in the scene. It was mad! The whole hype of guys saying that girls can't DJ, it's bullshit. It's not that we can't DJ, it's that we don't get given the same opportunities.'

Although the presence of OH141 and the Grassroots Glasgow workshops have kickstarted a greater level of discussion about diversity and inclusion in the city, there is still some way to go as far as attitudes are concerned.

'I remember when we first started and I was talking about misogyny in the scene and the amount of guys that called me crazy and said that I was creating an issue that didn't exist. You can't just dismiss our experiences because you haven't been through it or experienced it. At this point, you know that it's happening and you're choosing to ignore it.'

Sarra has been at the forefront of many of these discussions in Glasgow's clubbing community, along with her friends and fellow OH141 DJs. She's adamant that being ballsy enough to talk about these issues, even if makes people uncomfortable, is important. But she also believes that there are steps that the electronic music scene on the whole could take to make a real difference.

'Book more diverse lineups and have people present, not just behind the decks but in tech positions,' she says. 'Put minorities in positions where decisions can be made and it will trickle down. My night OH141 or Grassroots is the perfect example of that. Have a POC or a woman of colour or a queer person or someone who isn't a majority at the top and everything changes.'

The origins of many forms of electronic music, including techno, lie in the hands of people of colour. That this history, along with the contributions of the LGBTQ+ community, are often forgotten or dismissed is indicative of the wider issues of diversity that exist in the scene. But people like Sarra and nights like OH141 are the antidote to this, slowly but surely stimulating a change in the system, and above all else, in people's thinking of what is and should be considered the norm.

Keep up to date with future OH141 nights and workshops on facebook.com/oh141

Sounds of the African Diaspora

A night of live music from Sibusile Xaba and Thabang Tabane, an explosive collaboration between two trailblazers of South Africa's avant-garde. Plus afrobeat DJ sets from Glasgow's Sarra Wild (OH141), Ashanti and GK Machine.

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