Fouchika Junior adjusts her headphones, flicks a slider, and seamlessly drops the next tune: one of Tunisia’s rare female DJs, she is helping other women break into a male-dominated world.
“DJing isn’t very common among women,” she said.
“I’m trying to give them an opportunity so they understand that a woman can be a DJ in Tunisia—or anywhere.”
The 29-year-old, whose real name is Yasmina Gaida, works in cinema by day.
But since taking a three-day DJing course five years ago, she has mastered the decks and now plays various styles of house music in clubs across Tunis.
At the French Institute in central Tunis recently, she was giving Nada Benmadi, 25, her first lesson in mixology.
“I want to bring music lovers together to dance and spread positive energy,” said Benmadi, an aspiring sound engineer who wants to one day open her own production studio.
But “being a female DJ in Tunisia, that makes most families afraid,” she said.
“You get home late at night, and it’s mostly a male thing.”
Fouchika, whose DJ name means “hyper” in Tunisian Arabic, said club owners were sometimes wary of hiring a female DJ for a night.
When it’s a man, they say ‘OK, send me your profile on SoundCloud’, and they can go and mix,” she said, referring to the streaming platform where DJs and musicians can share their work.
“But when it’s a girl, they ask, ‘have you ever mixed before?’”
“They see it as a technical thing and so not really made for girls,” said the DJ, wearing a loose blue shirt and her hair in an Afro.
Fouchika said her parents — a make-up artist and a hotel entertainer — didn’t stand in the way of her passion, but some of her students face more resistance.
“Sometimes I have to go and meet their families to tell them, ‘everything’s OK, we’re not doing anything bad, just music’,” she said.