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Open Air: Bitch, Bitch, Bitch

Local feminist club promoters seek to reclaim a formerly offensive word -- and hook you up with sweet drink specials

 by Heleit Hackett
 published on Thursday, January 26, 2006

<em>Photo courtesy of Dorothée Smith</em><br>
Scream Club, a “queer-electro-sex-hip-hop-pop-punk-rap” group from Olympia, Wash. played the opening night of Bitch.
/issues/arts/695405
Photo courtesy of Dorothée Smith
Scream Club, a “queer-electro-sex-hip-hop-pop-punk-rap” group from Olympia, Wash. played the opening night of Bitch.
 

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bitch [bich]

1. Zoology : female dog: a female dog, or the female of another related animal, for example, the fox, or another carnivore, for example, the ferret

2. taboo term: a highly offensive term for a woman that describes her as spiteful, quarrelsome, and unprincipled (taboo)

3. complaint: a querulous nagging complaint (slang) (often considered offensive)

4. something difficult: a difficult thing or situation (slang) (often considered offensive)

Any way you define it, the word "bitch" is offensive. So the name of "Bitch Night," a new feminist dance night at E-Lounge in Phoenix, is raising more than a few eyebrows around town. But local feminists and event promoters Gia Wheus and Shannon Manns say they created the night as a way to showcase the musical, artistic and social accomplishments of Valley women. Wehus says it makes sense for women to turn an offensive explicative into an empowering term.

Wehus and Manns add that they created the night in response to their inability to find a gay or lesbian bar or club that played something other that mainstream hip-hop and top 40 music.

"The concept of Bitch Night was based off of two bars located in San Francisco," says Wehus. "One [bar] you can bring your pet in with you, and the other has the best jukebox you have ever heard."

E-Lounge was named "Best Lesbian Bar" by the New Times and Echo magazine -- but don't let that fool you. Wheus and Manns say Bitch is not exclusively for lesbians, but for anyone who wants to celebrate the feminist and queer communities while enjoying some killer drink specials with like-minded individuals and, believe it or not, their pets.

Yep, you can bring your dog -- or cat or whatever -- with you to Bitch.

Each Wednesday night at Bitch resident DJ Tiffany spins a wide variety of records by female artists ranging from Peaches to Le Tigre, from Cat Power to Patsy Cline.

The evening is also highlighted by live performances and guest DJs. On opening night, Scream Club, an Olympia, Wash. based electro-punk-hip-hop duo, played an estrogen-infused set. Members Cindy Incredible and Sarah Adorable say they wanted to play at Bitch because of the communities it appeals to and helps build.

"I didn't ever feel like I identified with the gay scene very much. I never felt really accepted by it and that there weren't very many people who were into the same things I am," says Incredible. "But with the [gay and feminist] communities you don't have to be gay, bi-sexual, or straight -- there's room for everything."

Although Wehus has several big-name bookings, including JD Samson of Le Tigre currently in the works, she stresses the importance of the involvement of local artists and performers.

"We are open to anything: musicians, bands, painters and artists," she says "All someone has to do is approach us with their idea, and we will work it out -- we are trying to embrace the local scene more than anything."

The promoters know it's tough to start a night in a city full of bars, clubs and dance parties, but Wehus says Bitch caters to a new crowd and fills a need.

"Bitch Night is different," she says. "It isn't what we have come to know as a 'ladies night' that you would go to at a typical bar, where there are 50 guys for each girl."

Still, she knows another taboo word hangs over the night -- the F word: feminist. Wehus says this word, meant to empower, is now used as an insult. But, she adds, she isn't afraid to admit the vital roll feminism plays at Bitch Night. "We just want people to have a night where they can have fun, and listen to music they won't hear anywhere," says Wehus. "But we also want people to understand that our main focus is to give women the proper respect they deserve."

Reach the reporter at heleit.hackett@asu.edu.



Scream Club
Don't Bite Your Sister
(Tiny Sensational Records)
Four and a half out of five stars

It's rare occasion nowadays for an album to come out that's original, inspirational, and enjoyable from start to finish. But, Scream Club manages to accomplish all this with their first full-length release, Don't Bite Your Sister. Hailing from Olympia, Wash. this female duo incorporates influences that range from synth-infused electro, to speedy garage punk rock and bass heavy hip hop --unique style they've dubbed "the queer-electro-sex-hop-hip-pop punk-rap sensation." Scream Club's vocal delivery is up-front and powerful, while the lyrics range from cheeky, to sexually taboo, to passionate political satire. Simply put, I love Scream Club, and you should to. -- H.H



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