In an overwhelmingly male-dominated industry, women rocking it behind the turntables don’t often get their rightful recognition. Some might say it’s not a big deal, but it actually is.
For a long time, women were seen as the champagne girls, the promoters or the audience, dancing along to what the mainly male DJ is spinning on the decks.
They would be the hype women for the DJs, screaming their approval at the way the DJ transitions from song to song. But that time is long over.
From Afro-house queens to amapiano beauties, here are eight female DJs whose talent, taste, style, and commitment to the art are redefining the all-boys’ club behind the decks and holding their own as the head of the dance floor.
Not only are they showing that they can get the crowds dancing, but their taste in music is top tier and proves that women being behind the decks is not a fad – they are here to stay and keep you on the dance floor for as long as possible.
They have put in the work, knowing that society will scrutinise them even harder than they would their male counterparts.
Carly ‘DJ Carly O’ Oosthuizen
Carly O’s passion for music began at a very early age, from just listening to music with her parents and being exposed to so many different genres like rock and electronic to classical and jazz.
She loved that something you can’t see or touch could make you have so much fun and feel so much.
The Durban-born DJ is now a full-time international open format DJ and music producer who is constantly travelling around the country, living her dream and making people smile.
Ntombezinhle ‘DJ Zinhle’ Jiyane
DJ Zinhle is undoubtedly one of the most successful women in the South African entertainment industry.
She has several awards under her belt, and her business sense is also top-notch. While she enjoys success as a businesswoman, she is still deeply entrenched in the music business.
Not OK with just being behind the decks, she releases hit music, including the chart-topping “Indlovu” and “Umlilo”.
“Umlilo” has been certified triple platinum. Jiyane’s skills were recognised in 2018 and 2019 when she was named the top female DJ in Africa by DJaneTop.
Dudu ‘Lady Du’ Ngwenya
Lady Du is one of the leading figures in South Africa’s amapiano circle, with a couple of hits to her name.
She has been working on her music career since the age of nine, and it was only last year that she received her big break.
Born in Vosloorus in Gauteng, Ngwenya’s fame has gone global, with her picture appearing on a billboard on Times Square in the US. She’s definitely one to watch.
Mandisa ‘DBN Gogo’ Radebe
DBN Gogo is the gift that keeps giving and has even given us a dance move to go along with her music.
We were all trying the “Wawawe”, or as it’s officially called – the “Dakiwe Challenge” just a few weeks ago, and it’s highly possible, we will continue doing so in a few weeks when spring hits.
While she may be relatively new in the DJ world as she began to deejay three years ago, the Durban-born has managed to make a name for herself and has been established as one of SA’s top DJs.
Radebe says she has always been very musically inclined and being a DJ is something she has always wanted to do.
Judy ‘Judy Jay’ Mahlatji
Judy Jay has long been interested in music, and her musical journey began as a musician and lead singer of an all-girl band.
She can play various musical instruments such as guitar, bass, and percussion. Hailing from Sekhukhune in Limpopo, Mahlatji started her career in 2017.
In June, she was announced as the winner of Diesel Denim Friday champion.
Introduced into the competition by HERO DJ Lamiez Holworthy, the young DJ won the hearts of many South Africans before she even won the competition.
Daniela Di Lillo aka Nora En Pure
Di Lillo is a South African-Swiss DJ and deep house producer.
She is someone who has managed to rise to the top but still plays her own brand of cultured house music to large and more commercial crowds.
Born in Johannesburg, Di Lillo first received recognition for her 2013 single, “Come With Me”.
Sticking to her guns in this way over the course of the last 10 years has quietly made Nora En Pure one of house music’s most internationally visible and in-demand stars.
Nonkululeko ‘DJ LeSoul’ Mdlalose
LeSoul is currently a game-changer in parties and events.
Born and raised in KwaMashu in KZN, she has been a DJ for the past eight years.
She calls herself the “Musical Einstein” and has been known to spin the decks without headphones, something seen as an oddity in the field.
Besides spinning the decks, Mdlalose is a talented vocalist, pianist, producer, and designer.
Lea ‘Lady Lea’ Barrett
Barrett started playing at the young age of 14. She has been making waves internationally for over 17 years.
Born in Pretoria, Barrett is a versatile House DJ and plays house music ranging from electro, funky, deep, tech, minimal, and progressive house.
She's been a guest DJ at almost every club in South Africa and is currently one of the country's most-booked DJs.