Can’t Make it to BiCon? Build Your Own

As has been the case for so many August Bank Holidays, as summer drew to a close this year many BCN readers were heading off in convoy for a weekend of fun and frolics with fellow bi folk. But for one reason and another, several of us Londoners could not attend BiCon 2005 in Worcester and were left in the big smoke wondering what to do with a bank-holiday weekend unstructured by plenaries, workshops and all-night parties. To mitigate the missing-BiCon-blues, we decided to put on a BiCon Replacement Party. Obviously this could never approach the wonder of the real thing, but we thought it deserved a write-up just in case people find themselves in a similar predicament to us in subsequent years. So, in Blue Peter style, here’s how to go about building your very own BiCon.

· Several willing bisexuals and bi allies including at least one newbie to be confused by all the BiCon related in-jokes and for all the old-hands to lust over…
· Card, scissors, marker-pens, blue-tak, drawing pins and, of course, sticky-back plastic
· Balloons and other sparkly decorations to bring on that BiCon feeling
· A range of alcoholic beverages in case the decorations don’t work
· A number of silly games, preferably including Twister
· Various silly hats
· Pillows
· Olive-oil
· A lot of enthusiasm and very little shame

A couple of weeks before the party put up a plaintive LiveJournal post to prospective guests to ensure that (a) some people are coming, and (b) some of them will Bring Things so you don’t have to do all the work yourself. For example, they could usefully bring badge making equipment, drinks, and CDs for the DIY disco. You might also want to include a poll to find out what traditional BiCon activities people would be willing to participate in on a Sunday afternoon in somebody’s house. Ours included the unpopular suggestions of: an activist workshop, a naturist space, a shaman, and an after-hours play party, along with the much more voted-for fun and games workshop, massage train, room for people who need to ‘get a room’, cocktail bar (which I don’t actually remember there ever being at a BiCon but there you are) and, of course, naked bisexual oil wrestling.

Wake up late on the morning of the BiCon replacement party. Panic rather a lot about not having done any preparation until now. Head out to the local supermarket for supplies, which mostly consist of booze and balloons since, in true BiCon style, the evening meal will consist of take-away pizza (and also because these hosts had been burnt before when trying to concoct an elaborate series of snacks for a small soiree and winding up spending the entire party skewering dripping marinated vegetables and building a barbecue out of assorted pieces of metal from Argos).

On returning from the supermarket, divide into two teams (of one person each): one in charge of decorating and one creating the essential BiCon Replacement Party programme. This latter should set out a rough timetable of events (from registration to closing plenary) and should also include a map of the venue including alternative names for all the rooms taken randomly from obscure science fiction television programmes or similar. It is good to provide a broom closet to act as a chill-out zone for those suffering BiCon-related-angst and as sin bin for anyone caught cheating at the fun and games. Particularly creative party organisers could also produce vocabulary lists on the wall to enlighten, inform and ‘generally scare the arse off confused newbies’, defining such key terms as ‘bisexual’, ‘workshop’, ‘bicon psychodrama’ and ‘biscuit’.

In relation to appropriate decoration the world-wide-web is your friend. Past BiCon organisers have helpfully left copies of their flyers up there for you to plunder and it is also possible to print out BiCon survivors photographs past from the BCN website. You may have a number of T-shirts which you obtained at BiCons over the years. These make wonderful decorations if attached to the back of doors. Copies of BCN can be scattered on tables. All-important is the BiCon poster to be adapted from the real flyer of the year and fastened to the front door for the amusement of guests. Ours was tastefully done in black and white and read: ‘London counts more than gender: BiCon Replacement Party 2005’. Of course it is important not to put this up too early because there is a danger that you will find yourself answering the door to a rather baffled elderly woman who was looking for an event at the nearby scout hut. Similarly, rainbow coloured arrows pointing the way to your house from the local station may not be the wisest plan.

Vital to the success of the party is a reception desk (or stool placed near the front door), where programmes and badges can be given out as people arrive. If you are very lucky party attendees may be rendered so impressed and confused by your life-like BiCon decorations that they will part with a cheque for £136 to cover registration and accommodation, and thus you can make a tidy profit from the event. We suggest that you include name badges with a ludicrously over-engineered coloured-dot scheme (explained in some detail on the programme). This way attendees can spend the rest of the day peering at each others’ breasts in order to try and work out each other’s orientation, availability, degree of cheerfulness, flirt-blindness status, and approximate weight in gold.

Once people begin arriving, a round of non-traditional BiCon cocktails gets the whole event off to a rousing start (following the opening plenary which obviously takes place half an hour before anyone arrives). Along with the drinks, we would recommend another new event for future BiCon-based parties, and hell, maybe even BiCons themselves: the BiCon themed Treasure Hunt. This involves clues being laid around the party venue which three teams have to follow in order to achieve the prize at the end (a box of Celebrations in our case because we had run out of clever bi-related ideas by this point). Our clues included Oscar Wilde quotes (leading to the next clue in the Picture of Dorian Gray) and relevant lyrics leading to the CD boxes of