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DJ Dana - One Hard Woman

Author: Jane Stabler
Friday, 15 February 2008
Dutch DJ Dana is known as the ‘queen of hard dance’ and has achieved the highest ranking spot in Mixmag’s top 100 of any hard dance dj, male or female. She’s now hitting Australia for Q-Dance so 3D’s Jane Stabler gave her a call.

In the old days Dana Van Dreven’s love of DJing and harder styles of electronic music were somewhat of a novelty for a lot of people. Now an international name, the novelty factor of her being a girl may have dropped away, but she is still a force to be reckoned with when it comes to her chosen genre of crowd rocking beats.

She started DJing as a hobby a decade and a half ago and admits that she never thought electronic music would ever become her career.

“When I started I thought maybe it was fun for a little while,” she recalls. “In the beginning I didn’t want to play at parties at all. I just played in my bedroom and then because there are no girls they invited me and I thought okay, and later when I’m older I can tell people I played a party when I was little, and I’m still playing after 15 years. I still don’t believe it’s my job. I know how fortunate I am!”

A lot has changed in those 15 years. Dana has steadily been building an international reputation for herself in the hard electronic scene, but the big change during the time has been the increasing number of female DJs. That’s not to say that chicks on decks are nearing the number of males by any means, but there has been growing acceptance that women are just as capable on the decks as men, and that they have more to offer in a DJ booth than just looking hot in headphones.

Dana concedes that although she’s experienced no trouble with being a lady in a male dominated scene, her choice of hard music combined with her gender does still surprise some people.

“I’ve heard that a lot of times,” she says, “all through my career people come up to me and say, how cool to see a girl play such hard music, but I think now finally after 15 years they like it, and there are a lot more women doing it. In the beginning [there were no problems], everyone is really nice to you. I’ve always worked with guys so I don’t have a problem with that. Of course it’s different when they go home for a PlayStation date and they don’t invite me! Sometimes I hang out with the other female DJs, but the others I don’t meet because we don’t always play the same parties. There’s usually only room for one girl DJ.”

Dana is certainly making room for herself on the scene, and she is constantly in demand both in her home country and overseas. The hard dance scene is a big one in the Netherlands, and it was her exposure to the sound in her hometown that set her on the path she is currently tearing down at warp speed.

“It started here,” Dana says, speaking of her native Netherlands, “and at the time I was going to parties, [there] was already a little bit of a change in mellow and hardcore – the beginning of house – it was getting harder and I liked it and I played it, and then it got harder and harder. When I started to play house styles I started to play harder stuff. I love the harder music.”

Taking her love of the hard stuff to the international party circuit, she’s played a lot of crowds in a lot of countries. Despite all rocking out to the same tracks and the same heavy beats and in your face style, Dana says she has seen some definite differences between countries, even if the music remains the same.

“Everybody’s different and every culture is different and how people react to things is different, but that’s the nice part to playing [internationally],” Dana says of her worldwide gigs. “I love playing Australia for sure, you’re so enthusiastic, and England for that matter too. It took a long time for [the English] to get used to the harder music, with the hard bass and everything but now they love it. Hard music is popular all over.”

With a sound that is as popular in one country as it is in the next, and an ever-increasing personal fan base, it’s no surprise that Dana is in constant demand. Heading to Sydney for the Q-Dance event, Dana’s modesty is evident when she expresses amazement that the world over, people are gearing themselves up to see the undisputed Queen of hard dance behind the decks.

“That’s really, really unbelievable,” she enthuses. “The first time I came [to Australia] I didn’t believe they knew me already. [But now] with the internet people can look you up and see the sets and parties easier. In the beginning you didn’t know what type of countries liked what type of music before you got there. I’ve been the first one to a lot of countries to play hard style.”

Now making return trips to many of her previously played cities, anyone who has seen Dana live knows that this lady has as much fun playing the set as the people there to see her doing her thing.

“[I think] how did I get so lucky-” Dana muses. “You travel the world, your job is making people happy and making people dance and you get to see people go crazy. Also you get to play the music you play at home, it’s unbelievable. I feel lucky!”

WHO: Dana
WHAT: Plays Q-Dance at Hordern Pavilion
WHEN: Thursday 20 March