The Planet London team, along with 5 amazing volunteers, took a road trip from London to Uttoxeter to run the Solo Club at this year's L Fest, and to bring a bit of London to L Fest.
We weren't sure what to expect, hosting the solo club - whether anyone would come and visit us at all, but armed with our pink, black and white decorations and goodies, we took to task on setting up the room.
With music playing to get our party started, we opened up at 1pm on Friday ready for business. By the end of the weekend, we'd met hundreds of lovely LFesters, hosted a breakfast, mingled, Jenga-ed, played drinking games with Jill Bennett and 150 women, MCed celesbian Twister (thanks Jill), seen music, comedy and arts events, bonded, snogged and cried at the thought of going home.
Only with 1500 lesbians is this kind of feeling possible...
As well as our own Planet London experiences, we asked the Planeteers to capture their reaction to what they did and saw (we didn't make them stay on duty all the time...)
Planet Central Fun and Games in the Solo Zone
This year L-Fest2013 gave Planet London the responsibility of keeping the Solo’s happy and entertained. So our 5 Single Planateers and 2 Married bosses set about providing a welcoming atmosphere with meet and greet sessions and ice breaker games on Friday evening.
Apart from the singles breakfast on Saturday morning Planet London’s big night was set for Saturday 7:30pm sharp kicking off with “Celesbian Twister” in which Jill Bennett was to be the Star. True to her word she was ready and waiting for the opposition of L-Fest solo challengers. Jill showed her yoga skills well while braving life and limb taking victory in round 1 when all three challengers collapsed on top of her squishing her like a bug. Undeterred with a Victory in hand she took on round two, this time the luck of the spinner was with her as the competitors failed to hold their pretzel poses and exited the game and a second victory was hers. Round three enters ex Michigan state track and field star known only to us solo’s as “Caryn Carney” for her resemblance to the soccer star. The field lined up 2 from USA and two from the UK unlike the 2012 Olympics the Brits were outdone by the Yanks as they went from strength to strength eventually ending in a tie. Lady J 3 – C Carney 1 - UK 0.
But wait the Planeteers had more in store and with Jill joining the solos for more games. There is nothing precious about her attitude, her approach was inspiring as she headed in the solo zone and got stuck straight in joining a team. Some of the games played would have more than challenged the sensibilities of a wall flower, but Miss Bennett took it gracefully in her stride even when during a round of “suck or blow” [what should be an innocent card game] a solo known only as “the fastest woman in Salford” seized the chance to try and sneak a snog.
Finally it was time for “flippy cup” a game passed down through the Softballing family of London Raiders to end up on the tables of Solo zone. The day had been filled with trash talk as Planeteer CC promised to wipe the floor with the young 20 something Planeteer Junior and her assembled team. The two teams consisting of 15 solo’s each lined the picnic tables [uneven as they were] to see who truly would come out on top.
The first round went to Junior and after a few substitutions were made on both sides. This time it was CC’s team who took victory as promised. Deciding in the spirit of team work to be happy with a draw the ladies dispersed heading off to the Grease evening in the main dance hall, to get their boogie on. Well done ladies and Jill who braved the British summer for twister in the open air and drinking games with all us Solos
**addendum: We must not forget the tireless work Donna and Denise from My Lesbian Radio/The Lesbian Lounge show put in hosting the stage, entertaining the crowds during the acts change and interacting with the women. I hear True Confessions was a big hit (Yer momma) and there may have been a pee-inducing pit sniffing incident...
Betty - laughing, loving, singing, pleasing...a killer set from headliners Betty - always a crowd pleaser
Miri - a soulful voice that sings to the heart, always a pleasure of mine and an amazing kind artist with a heart as golden as her songs. One to watch as Miri is on the up.
Grey Matter - a rousing performance from this Brighton based band, who are growing in stature year on year. Not only did they perform their usual excellent standard of outstanding songs, but they interacted with the audience and had everyone buzzing and dancing. Eddie was particularly happy as 'their number one fan' getting to meet with them after the performance for photos.
Nicky Mitchell feat. Lara King - Blues singer with a silky old school voice, and perfectly harmonised when joined by Lara A King on stage.
Second Shot -
Saturday morning Uttoxeter racecourse, the summer sun shining brightly, outside the designated screening room, Ladies of all shapes and sizes are congregating. A simple chalk board displaying the reason for the looks of excited expectation painted on the faces of the growing crowd.... Full review here (by CC)
Writing workshop with VG Lee - I learnt about writing a lesbian monologue - that is a short piece with a lesbian theme. From thinking about love, and relationships, to special "thinking" places, the group delved into each other's histories, futures & themes and were all moved by some of the fanastic pieces generated by the end of the session.
Jackie Kay - she never disappoints, and this was no exception, with humorous, sentimental & even saucy poetry and short story readings, Jackie delighted the packed house with excerpts from her well regarded works. Seeing Jackie Kay read comes with the highest of recommendations.
Drumming (led by Sharon Stone) - over 50 women were taught the basics of rhythm and drumming dynamic. With an an array of drums ranging from base drums to shakers and cow bells that are all used by samba bands. Our Planeteer volunteered to be n the middle of the circle to experiment with range of dynamics in different sections of drums. Sharon gave each section a particular rhythm by listening and repeating. She explained very clearly and made it fun. There was no pressure about getting the rhythm right or wrong and you could even improvise. Everyone could change drums a few times to have a go at a different rhythm. (Review by DC)
Before they knew it a band was forming, and as confidence grew within the “band” so did the volume, to a point where we were asked to keep it down as we were drowning out the people on the stage!
On Sunday a group got together to play the rhythms that had been taught and also had a mini parade with other workshops that had been making masks and singing.
All in all it was a great workshop, full of enthusiasm. Everyone had a smile on their face and perhaps a blister on their finger and a sore arm the next day.
Desert Hearts - an old classic that I can watch again and again. A wonderful way to end the festival.
Suzy Ruffles, Julie Jepson and Jen Brister ably helmed by Kerry Leigh steered the helm towards the close of the festival with sets packed full of lesbian themed jokes to a full house. How often do we get to laugh at all the quirks of being a lesbian
Three major nights, from three major cities - left the lesbians dancing away.
Sports, Fun & Games
Alongside giant sumo wrestling, foam jousting and the egg and spoon races, the L Fest Crew pulled off an organised game of rounders that drew in the crowds (and wasn't totally overtaken by the Raiders dressed as Planeteers).
Scruffs aka the dog (and crocodile) show
There was a super game of musical statues that made you wonder why and how you had ever managed to play without a pet before. The Pièce de résistance was an impossible game of sausage fetch, The pairs lined up owners with a cooked sausage in hand and pets at the ready, After the exclusion of a double human team [Human owner and Human pet] and the last minute inclusion of Planet London’s Crocodile, competition began. The aim was to pitch the sausage into the field and send your trusty companion to safely retrieve it. This proved too much for the majority of the field, PL Croc included, as most sausages were snaffled on release.
The unlikely hero of this tale was a lovely little black and white Maltese poodle mix, who was not only deaf but blind too and yet managed to find said sausage and return it safely to the starting line clinching victory. Second place went to Moon a spunky jack russell who managed to swiftly return with half a sausage. It was a great start to a Sunday morning and a fantastic way to include the furry members of our families in all the L-Fest fun.