There's something uniquely captivating about Jasmine Infiniti, a Bay Area DJ originally from the Bronx. Over six feet tall with a sleek, devilish style, the self-proclaimed "queen of hell" effortlessly mixes vogue beats with dark, ambient effects, mesmerizing audiences at underground warehouse parties and big clubs alike.
"As a Black trans woman, I feel like I've gained a lot of respect DJing. It's highlighted that I, and we [trans women] as a community, are multifaceted," she said in a recent interview.
Over the past year, Infiniti has DJed alongside underground dance music faves such as Kingdom of the influential label Fade to Mind, as well as Bearcat, one of the founders of the up-and-coming, feminist music collective Discwoman.
"Maybe it's a bit of luck," Infiniti told me — a humble response for an extremely talented DJ who has been building momentum for her own career while consciously carving out space for queer and gender-nonconforming folks in the Bay Area nightlife scene.
We met at a bustling cafe close to her work in Hayes Valley. Over a cup of coffee, Infiniti spoke to me about her new job at the San Francisco Department of Public Health. She's currently putting together an initiative that would make it easier for trans and queer individuals to access PrEP, a drug HIV-negative folks take as a preventative measure against contracting the virus.
Infiniti has lived in the Bay Area for five years, but her surname has roots in the New York City ballroom and vogue scene, a queer subculture known for its stylized dance moves that emulate the poses in Vogue and other fashion magazines. It's a scene that celebrates femininity, gender nonconformity, and personalized self-expression through colorful fashion and movement. "I've always been Jasmine Infiniti. I've been in the House of Infiniti for over a decade."
Ballroom culture uses the archetypes of familial structures. Each house — a group of artists, musicians, and dancers who participate in ballroom competitions together — is like a family. Mothers and fathers provide guidance and support to their children and sit at the head of their house. As Infiniti spoke about her time in New York, she became teary-eyed. "It felt like my first other family who accepted me and gave me the courage to transition."
Since moving to the Bay Area, Infiniti has found a similar sense of family in West Oakland. There, she helped establish the trans and queer interdisciplinary collective New World Dysorder (NWD). "NWD was so many people in the beginning: Maya Songbird, Eric Delgadillo aka Demongay — who taught us how to DJ — Darren aka Miss Cunt, Iso aka HeeeSheee, Alyha Love, Cali Rose aka Cali420princess, Orchid, Lynn — who came up with the name."
Infiniti and her collaborators started NWD after a negative experience where she and a group of queer and trans people of color were invited to participate in an event, weren't paid, were treated poorly, and left feeling exploited. The collective, whose membership is always evolving, produces events where trans women were at the forefront, working as DJs, hosts, and producers.
NWD's vision of a space of radical self-love, celebration, and beauty is everything I love about nightlife as a queer person myself. They understand that beyond the pulsating music, wild outfits, and late nights, the dance floor is where many find community, family, and that feeling of acceptance — a feeling LGBTQI folks yearn for in a world that makes us feel othered and alone.
"Throwing a party can be a radical act," said Infiniti. "Especially, for queer people in the wake of Orlando. Having space for community — having the gall to celebrate our lives in a world that tells us that we should be afraid — is radical."
She continued, "Music is a way to infiltrate minds and bodies. It's something folks can relate to."
Infiniti is part of a group of rising Black, trans women DJs — such as New York's Juliana Huxtable and Honey Dijon — currently diversifying the landscape of nightlife. And truth be told, transgender folks have always been present in music and culture. Though some trans women, like writer Janet Mock and actress Laverne Cox, have gained mainstream visibility in recent years, there's still a long way to go — which is why Infiniti's work is so essential.