A stranger’s backyard in a city you probably don’t live in is where you find yourself on a Friday night 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 DIY spaces where music is played and art is displayed. The DIY scene is everywhere.
In Whittier, California lies a tight-knit DIY scene where people 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 who participate in it.
In this scene there is an all-girl collective known as The Venus Collective.
Their goal, clearly stated on their website, is to provide a safe, creative space for the talented, artistic and DIY-driven girls in the local area. I wondered why a scene so open-minded and welcoming would need an all-girl collective, but I quickly learned that they needed it because, similar to film and politics, this scene was a male-dominated one.
The Venus Collective was established in 2016 by Samantha Herrera. The collective started because she wanted to organize shows but didn’t see any opportunities for her to do so. Instead of giving up, she decided to do it herself and it quickly turned into a way to help other girls thrive.
“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,” said Herrera. “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 Venus Collective is made up of 16 girls ranging in ages 17–22 and originating from different cities and artistic backgrounds. There are photographers, illustrators, designers, artists, and musicians that have teamed up to collaborate on music and art shows, videos, promotion 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 get into this scene before I work with guys,” said Herrera.
Men have an advantage. There are a lot of male promoters, male-lead bands and male-lead productions, but the girls in the Venus Collective want to make sure they aren’t left out in any aspect of it. This isn’t about excluding boys. It’s about giving girls an equal opportunity to participate without a hassle.
“I just believe girls should be able to throw shows in this scene without seeming lesser than guys,” said Herrera.
The Venus Collective welcome everyone at their shows, but they do prioritize giving females the best experience possible. At each show, the Venus 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 the collective can experience 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 Venus Collective has also become a great way for girls to keep producing their art and getting it noticed. They use one another’s talents for anything they produce. Whether they need a photographer or an illustrator, they’ve got it. It’s all about highlighting each individual’s talents.
“It’s hard getting noticed and to get people to hire you, but here you’re getting promoted,” said Venus Collective photographer Melody Martinez.
The Venus Collective is a group of girls who hype each other up, create things together and provide an overall support system for one another. Being a girl in this 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 should be taken just as seriously as their counterparts. The Venus Collective wasn’t started in order to get special treatment or as a form to complain about and exclude guys. There’s enough space for both males and females to create and collaborate on art- but females get it done.