Strawberry Flavoured BabyBiCon

BabyBiCon photoArdwick Youth Club in Manchester played host to the first national gathering of young bisexuals in June. BabyBiCon (with a strawberry motif for some reason) attracted a score of under 26s, many of whom had never been to a BiCon, for a cheap weekend away with other young bi’s. Attendance would have been higher but the date chosen by the host bisexual, lesbian and gay youth projects (LGYM and PSP) clashed with many students’ exams – a few weeks later and no doubt more people would have been able to come.

The event came from work done by the Manchester Bi Youth Group, and followed on from a workshop at last year’s Bicon. Members of Manchester Bi Youth already had experience of hosting cheap and succesful conferences (such as the 1996 young lesbian and bi women’s gathering reported in BCN Issue 6). Meanwhile the high cost of attending BiCon 97 had led to feelings that the main bi gathering was now too expensive for many young people to be able to attend.

Even before the youth workshop at last year’s BiCon, outline plans were made with LGYM – giving Bi Youth access to Youth Service facilities and so making the whole event much more affordable. Attending BabyBiCon cost just £15 per person including dormitory accommodation, meals and all the activities that were planned for the weekend.

The weekend’s programme included art and craft sessions, a tacky disco, films, clubbing in Manchester’s gay village, and some fabulously silly games. There were workshops on topics like BDSM and identity, and a guest speaker who came along to encourage everyone to go to BiCon!

The smaller size of the conference meant that the event was more flexible and fluid than BiCon – there were no more than three activities going on at any given time and so it was much easier to change the programme in response to the mood of the participants. A two hour long ‘wide game’ had been planned but was completely scrapped in order that people would not be too tired to go out clubbing on the Saturday night.

Though only a tenth the size of ‘grown-up’ BiCon, the same warm atmosphere pervaded the weekend. There was a widespread chorus at the end of ‘have we really only known one another for two days!?’

There was clear feeling that there should be another BabyBiCon – though where it will be held remains to be decided (anyone fancy hosting it!?) It is perhaps even more important for an event like this to move around Britain than for Bicon to do so, as young people are less likely to have the money for long distance train journeys (though paradoxically they are more likely to have the time free).

A bi youth workshop will be held again at this year’s BiCon to consider where the BabyBiCon project might go next and how to host a second gathering – all bisexual under 26s welcome!

Jen Yockney