The Vinyl Salon started as an intimate affair and has grown into a city-wide hub for women-run entertainment in safer spaces.
“Vinyl Salon started about two years ago, which is pretty crazy,” Renée Girard, manager of The Vinyl Salon, says.
She knew a lot of women who collected records and wanted to start something with them.
The first events were born out of Girard’s desire for a power group where women could share, play and talk about music.
“And not be overtaken by men, to be very honest,” she says.
The original get-togethers were held in private homes, rather than bars or clubs.
“There was that intimacy that was able to happen,” Chloe Chafe, performer and collaborator, says.
The salons felt more like small gatherings, Girard says, but the invites were widespread enough that Chafe saw people from different corners of the music scene start to come together.
“It wasn’t a public group, but we started on Facebook,” Girard says. She invited people who she wasn’t necessarily close to but knew well enough to know they had an interest in vinyl.
Because the event was easy to access online, those who were unable to attend in person still had a chance to participate, create dialogue and even form partnerships, Chafe says.
Chafe and Girard say The Vinyl Salon has received a lot of support and encouragement from the local scene, where artists are happy to see more diverse representation.
“Especially in Winnipeg, we’re coming from a very male-dominated DJ scene,” Chafe says. “We really had this sort of craving in the dialogue of safe spaces that is popular right now. In those safe spaces, where are the female performers?”
Thanks to the groundwork built in those first few gatherings and some guidance from established locals in the music scene, The Vinyl Salon is expanding to become the power group it was intended to be, Girard says.
Within the last six months The Vinyl Salon has been hired to play dance parties across the city, including New Year’s Eve at The Forks. While organizers of the Dec. 31 event weren’t sure if people were going to dance, The Vinyl Salon got everyone moving.
“For the second set of the fireworks, the entire crowd started going crazy, which was hilarious and a lot of fun,” Girard says.
The Vinyl Salon isn’t only about diversity, safer spaces and feminism, Chafe says. It’s about the music and the medium.
“There’s also this desire to have that materiality again. And to listen to music kind of going backwards a bit to go forwards,” Chafe says. “We’re trying to look at how we interact with a world that isn’t just ourselves and some laptops.”
Moving forward, the collective is planning to sit down and talk about what The Vinyl Salon has become and where they’d like it to go. It’s important that these conversations happen as a group, Girard says, because everyone has a say.