The Dude Locker (527 E. Hudson St.) might sound like a boys club, but on Saturday, March 28 women will take center stage at the second annual Women Aloud event. With roughly 24 acts ranging from music to poetry, and comedy to art, organizers Betsy Clark, Courtney Hammond, Ella Tyler and Su Flatt have packed a full day of girl-power to benefit Grrrls Rock Columbus, a non-profit musical day camp for teen girls. Festival-goers will get to see Columbus' finest female-fronted acts (like The Girls! Betsy Ross, and Damn The Witch Siren) as well as the city's best female poets and comedians. We talked to Flatt about the fest's humble beginnings, and why women deserve a festival all their own.

The Dude Locker (527 E. Hudson St.) might sound like a boys club, but on Saturday, March 28 women will take center stage at the second annual Women Aloud event. With roughly 24 acts ranging from music to poetry, and comedy to art, organizers Betsy Clark, Courtney Hammond, Ella Tyler and Su Flatt have packed a full day of girl-power to benefit Grrrls Rock Columbus, a non-profit musical day camp for teen girls. Festival-goers will get to see Columbus’ finest female-fronted acts (like The Girls! Betsy Ross, and Damn The Witch Siren) as well as the city’s best female poets and comedians. We talked to Flatt about the fest’s humble beginnings, and why women deserve a festival all their own.

This year, the festival blew up. Women Aloud started as some of my friends and I celebrating women’s history month by reading some works by female authors, poets and artists. Last year, I thought we should bring it to a public space and get others to participate. The first year we only had a handful of acts at Kafe Kerouac; this year, Betsy [Clark] and the other organizers were so excited, we decided to make it as big as possible. We have something like 24 acts and are expecting to raise more money for Grrrls Rock Columbus. Even though this year is going to be huge, I hope there is a level of intimacy and connection we achieved at Kafe Kerouac the first year. I hope the performers feel a connection to each other and the crowd. I want it to be like we’re sharing our creativity, not just putting women on display.

Women are totally occupying a space called the Dude Locker — that’s just awesome. When we were deciding on a venue, we knew if the Dude Locker said “yes” we were totally into it. It’s funny when people talk about it, and the light bulb goes off that an event called “Women Aloud” is at a place called the Dude Locker. The venue itself reminds me of DIY warehouse parties I went to 15 years ago. I think shows and events that are DIY have a radical sensibility and feel more like a movement than just an event. Spaces like that are special and intimate.

I don’t think events like Women Aloud are necessarily unique — but they are necessary. Women Aloud isn’t the only female-centric event in Columbus. I think people like to get behind shows and events that are all about celebrating women and female-identified people. We have so many talented women performing right now — the city is full of the best sort of poetry and art, and I think that community likes to support each other. When you think of a music festival, and you think about what bands are going to be there, you automatically imagine it’s going to be about 70 percent male-fronted bands. An event like this is shifting that paradigm for a minute. We have hopes to keep the event going. I think it’d be cool if we could incorporate more kinds of expression next year, but for right now, we are just focusing on getting through the event.

We want to celebrate women — that doesn’t mean we want to bash the guys. I think men get the impression that female empowerment means male disempowerment. That isn’t what we want; we just want to create a space where women have the same access. I hope tons of guys come out and support the event. Tons of girls go out and support them! I hope more than anything they get a great show.

Photo by Meghan Ralston