EuroBiCon: A Good Mix
This was a well organised event. The conference organising group did well to wait until 2001 in order to host the event in Rotterdam’s special year as European city of culture, which meant lots of interesting special events were going on in the city. They were also able to coincide with the start of Rotterdam Roze a 10 day pink festival called “different identities” which hosted many complementary events including a public gay wedding and a roller blading event.
Giving themselves more time and having a large team in a small country allowed them to organise
the most impressive Opening Plenary I’ve ever seen at a bi event. A range of speakers including Bianca Haganbeek (a Dutch celebrity as she is the bisexual woman who won the Netherlands’ second Big Brother series earlier this year, and who’s used some of her prize money to set up an impressive email support system for people who want to know more about coming out) gave the event credibility. This was accompanied by ceremony (trumpet playing from the balcony, pink champagne for a toast) and technical competence (the banner unfurled at the right time and we could see the speakers and other relevant slides on screen).
One of the organisers, an artist Jolie, had created a new Bi logo, which is definitely better than
any we’ve had so far. The cute pins of the MoBIus
ring (a three colour twisted ribbon triangle) had definite
official souvenir status and were given out to all
the speakers, throughout the conference, a nice touch!
Holding an English speaking conference is probably easier in Holland than many European countries, all that access to UK TV certainly pays off and most of them seem bilingual. However it is no mean feat to include French, Belgian, Portugese, Russian, Finnish, German, UK and US delegates in such a range of workshops. The conference was much less dominated by the hosts than has been the case in any of the International Bicons. The small country size and the wide range of groups available to local bisexuals probably helped this (they weren’t desperate to attend a local event) and it was a short journey from home for many of the foreign delegates.
The venue was pretty central too, within walking distance from a variety of guest houses and restaurants as well as the shopping centre and festival events, which added to the accessible feeling of the whole event. We stayed at the hostel, which was much better than I’d feared. I enjoyed sharing a room with three people I know, as I’d been quite anxious before hand about prospect of huge dorms full of European men insisting on having windows fully open all night. It was enjoyable being able to breakfast with a variety of delegates and to have events start at a reasonable time.
The disco was not my favourite event (there should be an EU ruling about the level of competence required by DJs) though the dark room was “interesting” and I hear some other people had fun in the SM Play space. It was a relief to have “public sex” provided for and accepted for a change. I had my only battle with the ubiquitous toilet attendents who clearly label their fee and expect it to be paid every time one needs a small wee (quite often when one’s pregnant) – I suppose it’s good there are still some cultural differences – but they are probably the one feature of Rotterdam I’d dispose of.
The closing plenary was a little scary for the organisers, but rather refreshing for some of us hacks. That’s when the differences between us European neighbours began to show and the arguments leaked out. Not surprising that the topic was ILGA, whether or not to work with LG organisations is an area fraught with history and contentious issues for bis.
As ever, for me, any bicon presents surprising opportunites to meet old friends and new; to get to know people better in a variety of ways and to participate in a variety of fun and interesting events. Rotterdam 2001 was no exception to this. I just regret I didn’t take photos of all the lovelies and collect more addresses.