The Dancing DJ

It’s impossible to ignore the irrepressible spirit and light-filled energy of Sisi Mbombo: the girl that’s been dubbed the ‘Dancing DJ’ of the Jo’burg underground club scene.

Whether she’s playing a set, giving an Instagram dance tutorial (check out her twerking moves… Miley’s got nothing on her) or doing a cheeky impression of the Zol #salivachallenge on TikTok, she’s a whirlwind of constant, uplifting motion, with rainbow-hued braids that whip around her lithesome dancer’s body as she happily pretzels into acrobatic moves behind, and in front, of the DJ decks. 

Understandably, she’s a hit with the party crowd and to date the 25 year old, who goes by the alias of DJ Si’Noir, has residencies at various clubs around the city, has performed at local festivals like Oppikoppi and Ultra Fest and recently toured Australia, performing at Heaps Gay Trash Tour and the Sydney Fringe Festival, amongst others.

As the V.I.P. guest at our virtual 1st Birthday Party, where she’ll take over the KushKush IG Live stream to perform a live set for our friends and fans - Saturday 4th July at 8.30pm; don’t miss it - we caught up with this dancing DJ dynamo for a Q&A intro into her fast-paced life.

What's the meaning of your DJ name, Si’Noir? 
I took French in high school and always loved using the word ‘noir/noire’ as an adjective. When I was thinking of an alias, I decided to use the masculine spelling to play on the whole ‘men are better DJs” stereotype while here I am, as Femme as ever, taking over.

Others see it and think it means: ‘Yes Black’ which can be confusing but I appreciate this too as it allows me to inspire other black womxn to dominate in an industry that automatically puts us at the bottom of the food chain. Both interpretations are important to me.

How did you become dubbed the "Dancing DJ”
As a professional dancer, I enjoy performing and getting creative on stage, especially in front of my DJ Deck, filling up each and every space on that platform. If it’s a jam, it’s a jam, and I want to groove with the peeps. 

You're born and raised in Jo'burg - what do you love most about the city?
The rich and strong creative art culture. As a nation, we’ve had to, and are still, experiencing deep rooted issues which cause change; both negative and positive. That process of change assists us as artists to express how we feel and portray it to the rest of the world. It’s mesmerising to see and work with artists who show South African culture in the most spectacular, meaningful, heart-warming, yet confronting, way.

Tell us a bit more about your journey from classical ballerina to a DJ/dancer/choreographer and MC/host?
I started dancing when I was 5 and majored in classical ballet and modern dance at UCT but took up DJ’ing after my mom died in 2016 and I didn’t feel like dancing anymore. She’d always told me I should DJ and it felt like my love for music was what I needed right then. I eventually rediscovered my love of dancing again and now mix it all up.

You're known for combining a variety of musical styles into your DJ sets - from new and old school House and Deep Afro Tech to Disco Funk and Electro - how would you describe your DJ style and what's the most important element for you in creating a happy dancefloor?
I’m quite unpredictable to be honest. I don’t even know what style I’ll start with until I arrive at the venue and feel the energy of the space and from then on, it’s a conversation: I play a track and receive feedback from the audience, and so we carry on. That’s the key ingredient to a happy dancefloor: listening to the crowd. Afterall, that’s what I’m there for.

Tell us more about your work with Pussy Party Collective - an incubator for femme and queer DJs in Johannesburg - and why this work is important to you?
I believe it’s important to provide safe spaces for all bodies; with no discrimination against who you are, what you wear and your choices. You’re free to just be you. We realised, however, in order for that to happen, we had to do it ourselves - as a collective. It’s important to me because it means I’m doing good work making an impact in the industry, and breaking boundaries down for other people.

And what do you want to achieve with your recently launched Boys Club project?
The dance music industry around the world is dominated by males. Talented women get overlooked simply because of their gender. So Boys Club is a group effort to create opportunities within the industry for women. I want to break more boundaries and empower other women to gain recognition in a masculine space.

You've played at various festivals here, and abroad. What's been the most off-the-charts gig you've ever played?
Every experience was so different; they all have a special space in my heart. But if I had to choose I’d say OppiKoppi in 2018 because it was my first festival as a fresh new DJ and seeing all the people sharing and giving love gave me a view into what I’d like my DJing career to be about. 

Any thoughts you want to share on #blacklivesmatter?
I have a lot to say about BLM: too much, in fact! Ultimately, I think the world is shifting for black people to become more empowered, to love ourselves and our beautiful brown skin and for us to no longer feel oppressed by the treatment we’ve received because of our skin tone. We are beyond our skin tone and if we understand that, as a race, we’ll overcome it all.

Tell us how you’ve used your downtime during the COVID-19 national lockdown?
This period has brought growth and evolution and I’m currently exploring the healing aspects of life and how I can best achieve that through my craft. I’m simply exploring with a naïve, open mind. 

On a less serious note: we love your look: who/what inspires you?
My ideas usually comes from within but many external things inspire me, like beautiful colours or textures from what I see around me. My brain works in a very interesting way: sometimes I create my inspiration as I go and then it will change depending on my mood. It’s almost like it comes out of thin air, and I’m like ‘Ah, this would look cool!’

We're so excited to jam with you on Saturday… What can we expect from your set on KushKush IGLive?
Me too, yay! Something colourful, funky and deep :)

Words: Justine Stafford
Artwork: Khanyisa Klaas



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