Ladyfest has become like an international travelling carnival of shared ideas and organising. Ladyfest London 2008 actually began a long, long time ago when a group of women responded to a call out printed in a zine. It was an event I felt some resonance with already, having been to Ladyfest Brisbane and reading about other ones in zines for many years. I think this is why I braved the social awkwardness of meeting a bunch of total strangers in a bar with the aim of plotting a huge feminist event.
But even after a meeting or two, we were still not entirely convinced about creating something under the Ladyfest banner. With it comes quite a weight of past events and we wanted to be sure that anything we organised reflected our communities and was decidedly a creation of London. Particularly as many of us were from other parts of the world and had adopted London as a home.
As well as the weight of past events, Ladyfest brings with it a shared and unique history of independent feminist festivals, of international dialogue and of shared knowledge and experiences. While on paper, this may sound hopelessly naive, it did mean we could communicate with people who had been involved in other Ladyfest festivals and ask (lots of) questions and share resources. I can’t think of other festivals that would allow that, without at least an element of competition or ego.
Each Ladyfest starts with a clean slate. We were able to come up with our own aims and values, and certainly to make our own mistakes. And, no two Ladyfests are ever the same. Thankfully, there is no Ladyfest construction kit yet (although a hex key always comes in handy) .
Each Ladyfest ends with exhaustion, but also plans for new projects, new adventure. And the creation of Ladyfest London 2008 has certainly led to many late-night discussions about what comes next. And I can’t wait to see that.
Photo by jwcline, shared under a Creative Commons license