I first heard of Nap Girls when Skrillex shouted them out on National Women’s Day earlier this year. The origins of the nap pose, now an Instagram regular for DJ’s of all genres, and its ties to an IRL girl power movement within the dance music industry were revealed to me when I was recruited to join in March. My first impression of the group is actually best summed up by street artist Shepard Fairey when he talked about the spread of his Obey brand: he said, “The more people want to know what it is, the more they ask each other – and it gains real power from perceived power.”
The 15 minutes of #NapGirls Internet-fame achieved just that. But what most people didn’t realize, according to fellow Napper Dani Deahl, is that, “The nap pose is just visual cues to let the world know that we identify with a cause.” The Facebook description for Nap Girls reads: “a creative collaborative collective of women promoting gender equality in the dance music industry.” The group motto is ‘Work All Day, Nap, Dance All Night.’
Once added to the secret discussion page, ‘NapChat’ if you will, I began to understand. Not only did I already know tons of women in the group, but many of them were engaging in fascinating discussion about some of the challenges they faced at work as females. Industry veterans were giving heartfelt advice to girls brand new to the biz, girls were posting jobs and fellow Nap Girls were getting hired left and right. It’s a glorious scene I was instantly proud to be part of although I was still uncertain whether it was supposed to be a sorority, Baby Sitter’s Club, the Illuminati, all or none of the above.
At its core, the whole Nap Girls phenomenon is completely organic, so the name of the game for founder Liz Garard and all 120+ official Nap Girls was to harness the momentum and solidify the mission. “It started as kind of a joke, I sent a bunch of friends a Snapchat asking if they wanted to join my gang,” says Liz, who seems to be divinely engineered to start this group. She was a Women’s Studies major at Vanderbilt, active in a sorority and wrote her senior thesis titled ‘The Objectification and Commodification of the Female Body in Rave Culture in the New Millennium: Peace Love and #Ravebooty’.
Upon moving to LA, she was shocked to learn she wasn’t even qualified for an assistant position in the music industry. “I had these preconceived notions of what jobs I’d be qualified for. I had one guy say he could get me a job, then he started sending dick pics every Sunday. And the only person I had to talk about it with was my mom – that’s a weird convo to have. In college I was surrounded by all these awesome girls who wanted to be friends and talk about interesting things, once I moved out here I thought I’d lost that.”
To the outside world, the rapid spread of #NapGirls photos appeared to be just for just for Insta-funsies. Internally, the group was attracting women from all facets of the industry who were about the Girl Power cause. Skrillex, who was turned on to the mission by Nappers Mark Johns and Mija, became the #1 Nap Bae when he gave a shoutout to @NapGirls out on National Women’s Day. Says Mija aka Amber Giles, “What attracted me to the Nap Girls was the spunky group of girls that had a silly idea and wanted to make it a ‘thing’ — and once it became a thing they used its popularity to promote positive messages and girl power. It’s amazing, it’s like a modern feminist movement.”
Now an international, membership-based non-profit, Nap Girls is growing up to be a career and mentorship resource as well as a constituency of die hard supporters for female artists. “I started noticing all these girls coming out to my drum ‘n bass shows rocking out in the front row. Some of them came up to me after and said they were Nap Girls. In all my years of DJing I’ve never seen that many girls together at that kind of show,” says Reid Speed. The social aspect of Nap Girls is primarily LA-based, but as a Mecca for dance music, girls from all over are making moves to the West Coast, coming into this incredible support system and getting internship/jobs.
Graphic designer Braelinn Frank was hired at Total Assault Marketing Agency by one Nap Girl and also does freelance work for several Redlight Management clients through another Nap Girl. Kathryn Gosik got to spend the summer in Ibiza working for the personal manager to Steve Aoki, Nervo and Deorro — an opportunity she heard about through the Nap Girls job board. Sarah Sue Epperson was hired just this week by a major festival promoter and wrote in a message to Liz, “I just landed my dream job because a girl in the group posted it and vouched for me. I really want to thank you for having the courage and strength to create Nap Girls, it’s brought me so much joy and empowerment and now it’s literally changed my life.” In an industry that feels so exclusive, where who you know is paramount to getting anything done, it feels nice to have a safe group of ladies in the same boat trying to help each other.
“One thing I love about dance music is that it’s so homo-social, it breaks down social barriers. It creates an openness, I think so especially for guys. The bros have brotherhood, there’s not really been a sisterhood and there should be,” she explains. “But still for female DJ’s, it seems like you have to conform to either being hyper-masculine or hyper-sexual. The tomboy look is non-threatening, the second you embrace your femininity you’re not legit. Even I dress super masculine.”
Come to think of it, most of us do, probably because we’re all in the same game. “I appreciated that there were people who identified with the same issues I saw and wanted to create change in the world around them,” says Dani. “To quote Ronda Rousey, ‘I’m not a do-nothing bitch.’ Sure, there’s a nice hashtag and people take pics where we pretend to nap, but those are just visual cues to let the world know that we identify with a cause. As I say in my TEDx talk, I have a pro-everybody agenda, and it’s awesome to see men and women rallying around Nap Girls and saying, ‘Yes, this is a thing that needs to exist.’”
***Nap Girls will re-open for admission beginning January 4, 2016 – send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get you the Napplication link on that date. We’ll will be hosting the first official Nap party on October 28th #NapTimeLA at Mid-City in Los Angeles – watch the @NapGirls Twitter for all the party info.