BCN Cover

This originally appeared in BCN issue 78, April 2006

The original BiFest London was back in 1999, when the London Bi Group was thriving and decided to stage a big day-and-night-long party. It was a thumping success, but since then no-one had felt they had the time and energy to make it happen again, until last May. A quite different take on the same brand-name of bi event brought a great many people who had never been to a bi event before.

At the tail end of 2005 Manchester snatched the brand-name for the latest in their line of local one-day bi events, BiFest North Bi NorthWest. About a hundred people (“as many people as we could fit into the venue” they say) crammed into the upstairs function room of a city-centre pub. Roughly a third of them were locals who were not part of the existing “bi community” of the area, one third people who had been along to the local social-support group BiPhoria, and one third people from out-of-town who you might anticipate bumping into at almost any bi event around the country.

The rough formula – workshoppy discussions by day, somewhere to do arty crafty things or sit around drinking tea and chatting, and disco by night – has been tweaked from event to event, and they each very much reflect the kind of bi community and wider queer community of the city involved. Essentially what you need is a day venue which has smaller rooms or can be partitioned off for discussion spaces and mingle / stalls areas, and a night-time space for people to party. You need some people to meet and greet on the door, some to lead sessions (coming out and flirting seem to be popular options), and some who between them have the kit, the music collection and confidence to DJ in the evening.

Something I’ve noticed about both the Manchester and Brighton events (I wasn’t paying enough attention at last Spring’s London one) is that there seem to be more people along during the daytime than in the evening. There could be any one of a number of reasons for this – childcare, public transport, flexibility of excuses as to where you were at the time that you might give to people you live with.

But it’s exactly the opposite of what I would have expected: after all, there are many bi support spaces where you can talk about bi stuff with other people, monthly or weekly groups in each of the cities that have hosted BiFest. As there are no bi nightclubs the obvious draw would have seemed to be the evening segments. Back to the drawing board on that theory then!

The three have definitely had their own local character, and there’s no reason why the exact formula has to be copied every time a BiFest takes place, it’s just a good recipe to start from. You don’t need an existing bi group either — and if you have a small committed team willing to put the event together it might be a springboard to making the group happen. How about putting on a BiFest down your way?

BiFest London Coming Soon

Last year’s BiFest in London was a great success, bringing 130 bisexuals together for a one day festival to celebrate their sexuality, meet other bisexuals, chat and dance. This year we’re going to be even bigger, taking over two floors of the Doggetts Coat and Badge pub on Blackfriars bridge for a packed day.

The afternoon will feature those BiFest stalwarts, badge-making and cake, and a slew of workshops (details on the website). The evening party kicks off from 8pm with continuous DJs, a pub quiz and a whole lot more.

The venue is accessible by lift, will be serving food all day and has a fantastic view of London and the Thames.

When: Saturday May 6th,
1pm onwards, party from 8pm
Where: Doggetts Coat and Badge 1, Blackfriars Bridge, London, SE1 9UD
Cost: £5.