Dreamers & Doers

This popular Austin DJ champions queer rights on and off the dance floor

This Austin DJ champions queer rights on and off the dance floor

DJ Girlfriend ATX
DJ Girlfriend ATX works with area nonprofits in support of civil rights.  Courtesy photo

In a city populated by musicians and DJs, DJ Girlfriend ATX — aka Ezra Edwards — has carved out a distinctive niche. He’s that DJ you “see everywhere,” thanks to his intuitive understanding of how to keep a dance floor packed and his focus on nonprofit work, especially within the LGBTQ+ community. 

DJ Girlfriend ATX’s empire (so named for the Talking Heads’ song “Girlfriend Is Better”) is the culmination of a lifelong love affair with music.

“Music has always been a source of inspiration and comfort in my life," Edwards says. "It all started back when we were taping songs off the radio and making personalized mixed CDs. Remember that?”

As an artist, Edwards naturally gravitated toward the DJ life. “Combining music and nightlife came about very naturally for me, so I was elated when Cheer Up Charlies gave me my first big gig,” he says.

Almost eight years ago, the bar/music venue enlisted Edwards to perform a regular event. At the time, Austin didn't have a dance party that captures the nostalgia of '90s and early-2000s pop music, and so, Middle School Dance Party was born.

Though the dance party dream continues with theme nights, DJ Girlfriend ATX also uses his notoriety to champion queer nights, events, and artists. “I’m much more interested in helping newer, talented, queer artists get recognized. Also, maintaining events that broadcast queer artists on a grander scale like GayCL and the upcoming all-trans and non-binary ATX Trans Pride."

Success is different for everyone. And for DJ Girlfriend ATX, it’s twofold. “I know I’m doing something right when someone comes up to tell me they’ve had the best night of their life.”

But Edwards also measures it via his nonprofit work. “While I’m primarily a club DJ, I love being involved with nonprofits that give back or are working for civil rights, including LGBTQ+, women’s, and reproductive rights.”

It’s not all high-fives and poppin’ dance floors. The artist confesses that “maintaining my own personal space boundaries when dealing with intoxicated people is a challenge."

"There have been some moments with people who don’t understand respect and boundaries, who treat a DJ like a human jukebox," he says, adding that ultimately the good outweighs the bad.

Edwards offers some sound non-industry specific advice for other dreamers: “If it feels right, it probably is. Don’t listen to your Baby Boomer family and what they think is ‘the right way.’"

He adds, “You’re only as good as your reputation. Keep it kind, keep it fun. Be gracious and grateful. If you’re going to represent something, make sure it’s something you really believe in. Also, always show up early.”

Edwards' latest project is ATX Trans Pride. You can also find him at Cheer Up Charlies, pumping out the nostalgic dance party hits for pop aficionados and hosting Neon Rainbows, a '90s country night, as Boi Orbison.