Last weekend Ladyfest happened and it was a dream. Several of my friends have been helping organize this fest for months and I had no idea what to expect the weekend of the fest. I’m not much of a ‘fest’ person, but because of what Ladyfest stands for and the amount of work people I know and care about put into it, I was happy to support it in any way I could. It kicked off last Friday night during torrential downpours.
Here’s Grace making some announcements. I’m so stoked to have met Grace this year. She “gets it” on every level and is incredibly driven and hardworking. I’m always stoked to meet other people who are ready to jump into projects head first at the drop of a hat. She’s also just fun to be around and down for hangs.
I started out the night with a volunteer shift running the merch table. I had originally planned to be an organizer of the fest and even followed along with the Listserve for a few months, but while working on my book I knew I would be spread way too thin. I’ve gotten much better at telling myself no when I need to. Plus, the fest had over 20 organizers! Unreal, and so awesome.
My favorite band I had never heard of played Friday night. Blizzard Babies from Chicago. They were really rad and I need to follow up and check out their recorded stuff.
Potty Mouth. I wasn’t exactly sure what their deal was except that they’re really young and cool looking. They were fun to watch.
Saturday morning, Liz and I headed over to set up for our workshop. We were running a workshop about doing autobio comics.
Liz Prince had come down from Boston for the weekend for the fest and to do the workshop. I’ve hung out with Liz every other weekend for a few months! Pretty awesome, but I can safely say I’m pretty happy to be at the end of my travels for a little while.
We had some technical difficulty getting the projector to work, so we weren’t able to show the things we had prepared, but we ended up having a good discussion about the finer points of autobio comics based on questions people had – the ins and outs of writing about your own life, what stories to choose, how to write about other people without it feeling weird, pacing, self-publishing and working with a publisher, etc.
For The Birds Collective getting ready for their workshop on “Nurturing Authentic Communication in Feminist Organizing”
Meanwhile, we walked over to the Rotunda to set up our table of comics and set up for DIYPHL, and a drumming workshop was going on. It was pretty fun to watch and see how quickly people caught on to drumming concepts after about a half an hour of instruction.
Live screenprinting Ladyfest merch outside of the fest
Popping back over to Locust Moon so Mikey and I could catch a little bit of the stop motion animation workshop. Mikey has a big interest in film/animation, and it’s what I went to school for at MICA, so it was fun to watch this and get re-inspired. Mikey and I keep talking about making a short animation together of some sort. Now that we both of studio space in the same house I could see it happening some time this year – if we ever find the free time to take on another big project. Mikey is currently in the middle of several recording projects for his music and I’m always getting into things for my comics, so it’s hard to find real “free” time.
Kristina led this workshop. You can see her website here: http://kristinacentore.com
Back over at the Rotunda, a reading started at 3. It was filled with deeply personal and empowering stories and thoughts about being a survivor, dealing with grief, being a teenager, personal relationships, religion, family and more.
Liz reading a comic. It was so awesome to see how well attended the workshops and readings were. Unlike many fests, they definitely did not feel like an afterthought to a bunch of bands playing. They were a really integral and important part of the weekend.
On Saturday, bands started at 5, kicked off by my roommate’s band, Batty. Tiff rules and they were one of my favorite sets of the night. They’re better every time I see them.
Big Mouth! Angie and I spent some very formative summers in the same punk scene in Baltimore. We don’t see each other much or even talk often, but I think we’ll always have a bond because of that.
Ladyfest was a benefit for two really important organizations in Philly. Here, a representative for Project SAFE talks about their organization, which helps with harm reduction for sex workers in Philadelphia. From their website: “Currently, the strategy that SAFE employs centers on becoming more established in the community in order to build a network of women. By raising awareness of the problems women in the sex industry face in the general community, we seek to lower the stigma and daily harassment these women face. Also, in creating a safe space for women to connect to one another, we hope to work toward channeling self-advocacy on a group level.” http://www.safephila.org/
It was also a benefit for Women in Transition. “Women In Transition (WIT) provides empowerment counseling, referrals and advocacy to women in Philadelphia who are endangered by domestic violence and/or substance abuse. Our programs help women make positive changes in their lives, actualize their potential, and build lives for themselves and their children that are free of violence and free from addictions to drugs and alcohol.” http://www.helpwomen.org/wp/
The fest raised $7000 to give to these organizations. The person from Women in Transition said that even without the money, the fest itself was enough. She was really inspired to see so many young people sharing stories and opinions about really tough subjects and empowering one another to keep moving forward.
It’s easy to take for granted the kind of space that we create for ourselves in punk and the kind of culture we’re apart of – one that values thoughtful communication, consensual relationships, and respected boundaries. We still have a lot of work to do and it’s by no means perfect, but I can’t imagine what my life would be without the things I’ve learned through punk and diy. I would very honestly be an entirely different person. It was nice to have a weekend that really reminded me of how important this community is and how hard people are working to make things better, even if it’s just on an individual level. At the same time, it blows my mind that even in this really thoughtful space that we’ve carved out, fucked up shit still happens every day and it just goes to show how pervasive the things that we’re pushing back against really are.
Parasol, from Western Mass
On Sunday morning before the last day of the fest, Grace had a bunch of us over for a pre-fest brunch of kale and eggs, prepared right from her houses’ garden.
We dropped Liz at the bus station, swung home, grabbed lunch, and headed to the last day of Ladyfest. Sunday was much more low key, in a nice way. Ghost Ship.
The highlight of the day for me was seeing the bands from Girls Rock Philly play. My roommate Laura works for Girls Rock Philly so I always hear of things they’re working on and it’s really exciting when I get to see the culmination of that work. Girls Rock is an afterschool and summer camp program that teaches young people to play music and learn about confidence and creativity through it.
These gals’ songs were super catchy. They were stuck in my head all week. It’s so fun to watch them perform and see the genuine look of pride on their faces when they’re done.
After Girls Rock, Attia Taylor played. She did vocal stuff with loop pedals. I really liked it.
On Sunday, I mostly hung out by my table tabling for DIY PHL, and I didn’t stay for the bigger bands that night because I needed to get home to walk Rover and get some things done before work on Monday. Back to reality.
In short, Ladyfest ruled and Philly rules. And this community is important.