BiFest London 2006

BCN 79 cover

This originally appeared in BCN issue 79, June 2006

It was actually pretty pleasant on the morning of Saturday 6th of May when I got up at stupid o’clock to catch the satisfyingly cheapass megabus to London for BiFest. I passed the majority of the journey mostly zonked with mp3 player coddling me out of sleep. I was a little worried that my arrival in London would be followed by pick-pocketing on the tube, a total inability to find the venue and a desultory slog home. This is just London that does this to me, actually nothing of the sort happened.

The venue was almost scarily easy to find, stroll across the Blackfriars Bridge from Blackfriars tube station and you will see it – bloody great gold sign “Dogget’s”, with below it a slightly less bloody great gold sign “coat and badge”. It’s huge! Was my first thought (insert clichéd innuendo) way bigger than Brighton BiFest venue. Having completely failed to check the timetable on the internet before setting off, I fully expected to find the place buzzing and workshopping already. Not the case. It seems no-one else thinks it’s a good idea to get up at that kind of hour. Quite relieved I set about hovering around making sure at all times that I looked like I was helping out. Helping out with things like tasting cakes that is.

This is my second BiFest, after Brighton BiFest, and my second exposure to a wider bi scene than our Brighton family. Subsequently I had an odd feeling of recognising people from the pages of BCN and thinking “Gosh! They were in BCN!”, then realising that I had just been on the cover in the Brighton BiFest photo. There were plenty of people to catch up with, whilst not really being sure if I’d been up enough in the first place for there to be anything to catch up with. Having slowly slipped into the friendships that have emerged from my hanging out at Brighton-based bi stuff, I figured that this was probably normal. I could see many others catching up with friends who lived on the other side of the country and guessed that at least some of these must have met at a BiFest here or a Bicon there.

Anyway, registration, cakes, and a quick play with the toys before any kids arrived and I was off into my first workshop. I’d opted for ‘Activism’ over ‘Introduction to bisexuality’ as I figured that having had a small hand in organising one of these things myself, I didn’t need an introduction. This was mostly brainstorming but it had a whiff of recruitment about it. Beware those enthusiastic bi people you see, they will turn you into one of them!

Another workshop for me followed straight afterwards with an entertaining crowd scene between the two. This workshop was on ‘Flirting’ – something I am frustratingly bad at. Crap even. Many praises are due to those running this workshop – it was hugely popular, but they had planned ahead and brought enough fluffy toys and animals for everyone. Soon enough we had Penguin and Duck flirting fairly effectively with each other, without relying on traditional gender bias or style. Of course, as the workshop ended I was gagging to try out these new found flirting skills on a certain individual but alas! The confusion of the dissolving crowd, the next workshop calling and general post-workshop chaos put the kibosh on that. I had to carefully fold up my shiny new flirting skills and save them for next time.

Workshop three of my ‘must do everything possible’ day was on “getting the sex you want”. The first step is probably to stuff the workshop and do the necessary flirting instead. Ahem. Anyway it was also a good workshop. The “getting the sex you want” part was quite quickly out of the way as it emerged that the things stopping everyone in the room could be categorised as either ‘insecurity/ lack of confidence’ or ‘not meeting the right people’. Sadly we were informed that neither of these could be solved in a short workshop. I got the impression that most others there gained at least as much as I did simply by the demonstration that pretty much everyone else was shy too. We were then treated to a surprising game of “guess the risk factor” for various STDs, so not so much “getting the sex you want” as “make sure it’s safe”.

A bit of chatting and a couple of pints later and I made my weary way back south. It would have been nice to stick around for what promised to be an excellent evening disco but alas I am poor. I look forward eagerly to next year London people!


Bi Community News, BM Ribbit, London WC1N 3XX