When I first got invited to the screening for the third and final season of That’s My DJ—an award-winning web series created by D.W. Waterson, a Toronto-based DJ—I’m not going to lie I was a little nervous.
I don’t listen to electronic music (The Chainsmokers are as close as it gets for me, don’t hate), and I retired my club going days in university. I even tried going to a rave once and thought I was going to have a legit panic attack. So naturally, I made a safe (but very wrong) assumption that I probs wouldn’t be able to relate to the storyline. But after watching the first two seasons ahead of the season 3 screening, I felt guilty for being so quick to judge. Not only did I SERIOUSLY enjoy watching it, I also found myself relating to it more than I ever thought I would.
Yes, That’s My DJ is set in the Toronto DJ scene—a world that’s completely foreign to me. And yes, the characters make up a squad of way-cooler-than-me DJs, club goers and club promoters—another lifestyle I know nothing about. But it’s also about hustling to make your dreams come true and women kicking ass in a predominantly male-driven industry (talk about #GOALS), and it forced me to think about a world other than my own for a change.
Whether you’re into the DJ/rave/club scene or not, here’s my case—with insights direct from the creator herself—for why you need to ditch those cat videos right now and put That’s My DJ on top of your must-watch list ASAP.
It’s created and directed by cool-girl D.W. Waterson (known on stage as “hey! dw”) which, TBH, is reason enough
D.W. Waterson is a prime example of a badass female absolutely killing it in a male-dominated industry, and her voice is, without a doubt, one to be heard. I had the pleasure of sitting down with her after the screening to chat all about her passion project, That’s My DJ, the voices she wants to represent, the messages she wants to get out there—and of course, her life as a female DJ. This is where she told me she’s had to deal with men not booking her for gigs because she’s not a “sexualized woman.”
“I was like if dudes aren’t going to book me… they can go f-ck themselves, I’m going to build an event—which I did, Home Brew—and it went from 40 people to 400 people, and now it’s one of the most successful events in Toronto,” says Waterson. “So it’s like do you still want to not book me? Try to not book me, keep trying.”
Using her voice and her own life experiences as inspiration, Waterson’s main goal for That’s My DJ was to get people to believe in themselves and have confidence.
“I went from somebody who was, not necessarily quiet, but shy, a little bit more reserved, I let other people take the spotlight. I didn’t want to be too loud or disturb anybody because that’s kind of what culture tells me to do,” she said. “And throughout the series I’m like no, I have a voice, it needs to be heard… and I think it’s important that people, especially young girls, see other powerful women and LGBT women out there having a successful life, and being happy in positive relationships and positive environments.” If that’s not an amazing message for a show, I don’t know what is.
The female narrative in the series is HELLA strong
Having strong female characters in That’s My DJ was really important because, as Waterson points out, “We’ve heard ‘this is white man’s story’ beaten into our brains for the past 100 years”—and she’s tired of it.
“I’m a strong woman, you’re a strong woman, there are so many strong women, and we need to be represented,” says Waterson. “I know so many incredible women who are all different shapes, colours and sizes, who have so many different colourful personalities, and it’s just like we should be telling those stories.”
So, when Jacob Neayem—the actor who plays the male lead in the first season of That’s My DJ—was unable to return for the second season, Waterson had one of those, what she calls Aha! moments and decided to make Meagan—a female character from season 1—the new lead character.
“I was like, Oh my god Emily Piggford is one of the most talented actors I know, what if I actually told this story through her perspective?” says Waterson.
In the second season we get to watch Meagan find success in the club-promoting business as she opens her own club night, and we get to watch her become more confident with her sexuality—all while acting as a rock for the rest of the ensemble. Meagan’s strong female narrative is truly inspiring, and even though the third season does go back to a male lead, Sam (who we were introduced to in the second season), Meagan remains a dominant female voice and proves yet again how strong women can be.
It opens up conversation to bigger issues about long-term partying
Season 1 of That’s My DJ was by far the lightest of the series. Waterson even admits that “we’re partying in season 1 and there aren’t really any serious consequences.” Things got a little more heavy in season 2 while exploring the consequences of falling in and out of lust with someone you work with (using the characters Meagan and Hannah), and the stigmas that come along with being gay. But it’s season 3 where Waterson took the next step and used That’s My DJ to open up the conversation to a much bigger issue: the consequences of being in the party scene for too long and what it does to your body.
“I always find there are people who go in and out of the rave scene, who come in and do a bunch of drugs for two or three years and then they go and they start a family or whatever,” says Waterson. “But there are people who are in it for life and they get caught in it, and what comes along with this culture is a lot of substances.”
And that’s the question that Waterson wanted to ask in season 3: what’s the difference between casually partying and getting stuck in the party scene—and where is the line? “It’s such a gray area, so I really wanted to open up that conversation this season… because I’ve had friends who are in the party scene and you know they’re doing drugs for the summer, but then summer leads into the winter, and then winter leads into next summer, and then you see the person start to kind of lose themselves.”
You don’t *need* to be in the DJ scene to relate to the show
I was surprised to find myself relating to the characters in That’s My DJ—so much so that I told Waterson about it. “That’s what I always say about the show; you don’t need to be in the DJ world to relate to it,” she says. And it’s so true. The show might be set in the Toronto DJ scene, which obviously plays a major role, but what it’s really built on is the characters and their storylines.
“Each season is a character piece if you really break it down,” says Waterson. The characters in That’s My DJ are just like you and me; they work hard to make a living out of their passion, they have complicated love lives and—as Waterson points out—most of their drama happens at night. “We all go out, we all hang out with our friends; we’ll go to a bar, we’ll go to a patio, we’ll go to a dance party… I find people open up a little bit more [at night] and that’s what I was exploring with That’s My DJ,” she says. “It’s set in the DJ world, but it’s about people at night, who start to figure out who they are and who they want to be.”