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Back You are here: Home Sex, Gender & Sexuality Diversity - [Archived] GLB L Fest: The new L word

L Fest: The new L word

L-Fest-Crew2From performance poetry to football, from speed dating to power kiting,  the UK’s L Fest, which runs 22-25 July, is promising to be a first of its kind lesbian festival. Tiffany Lowana chats to Cindy Edwards, L Fest’s powerhouse co-organiser.

17 July 2011

What can people expect from L Fest?

Your Festival. Your Choice! Our tagline says it all: live, life, love, laughs… ladies.

What sets it apart from other lesbian festivals?

Again, the choice. With music, arts, authors, comedy, sports and then other things like a river boat cruise to throw into the equation.

What will £90 get you?

Everything! It’s all included. If you imagined individual nights out to see 14 great music acts, a river boat cruise, workshops, readings, 10 movies, 6 sports tournaments and three days camping, you will realise what a great price £90 is.

How did the whole idea come about?

After the first year of Stanstock 7’s that attracted 400 girls, I thought other women would love this event who don’t like football. So there it was!

Yes, Stanstock and Stanstock 7’s. What are they about?

Stanstock is a personal party with friends and family in memory of my dad which has grown into a mini home festival. Stanstock 7’s came about after a well-known football tournament stopped its camping facilities and that had been part of the fun. So I thought, I can do this, and did it with a friend.

Two years on, there are 40 teams and 400 girls. It’s turned into a very successful tournament.

It seems like you’ve thought of everything for L Fest – there’s even a powder room with hair straighteners?

Haha! Yes there is. We know that many of the women coming to L Fest might not be seasonal campers so we wanted to make them feel at home.

Who are some of the line-ups for L Fest? What made you choose these women?

We have some fantastic names in music, authors and comedy. I have seen acts such as Jill Jackson, Jen Brister and Jackie Kay and just knew I had to have them at L Fest! There have been many great acts approach us to play, but at this stage we can’t have everyone.

Can you tell us a bit about your collaborators and what they’ve brought to the table?

We’ve had some fantastic collaborations with the media such as Diva, g3 and Midlands Zone all giving us fantastic advertising. Then there have been many bars that have worked with us to promote L Fest or hold launch parties.

L Fest has quite a lot of interactive options – Pink Sofa speed dating and open mic poetry, to name a few. How important do you think the interactive element is?

Very. We have been surveying the audience in the lead-up to the event, and there are many single people coming, if just to meet new friends. We want to be a friendly festival and want lots of interaction.

Are you filling a particular niche? Targeting a specific audience?

Gay women are our only target – young or old. We just want them all to enjoy themselves. We have an 83-year-old lady who has bought a ticket.

So it’s a women-only event? If not, do you have any concerns around this?

It’s aimed at gay women and their friends, which basically means anyone can come along, although any homophobic behaviour will not be tolerated – at all.

Why did you choose Shrewsbury for the location? Is it a particularly queer area or have a significant history?

No, not at all, it’s just because I live there! We found the venue from Stanstock 7’s and it’s perfect for L Fest too. It would also be hard to find another venue that offers so much scope.

JackieKayWhat has been the greatest challenge in organising such a huge event?

Just the time taken to do it all, but I have loved it.

Is there anything you’d like to ask an admired festival programmer?

Oooh, that’s a good one! I have actually spoken to many people along the way who have helped me a lot. One of the best pieces of advice was, ‘When you think of a number, double it. That’s what it will cost you!’

What’s been the most surprising aspect of organising L Fest?

The support. Everyone wants to be our friend and it’s such a great feeling. We have been on the L Fest promo tour around the country and everyone has been so friendly.

I haven’t seen any negative publicity for L Fest. Have you had any?

No. And what I find amazing is that we’ve had some fantastic reviews and comments from all across the globe.

Are you hoping L Fest will play a part in nudging the lesbian movement forward?

I don’t think the movement needs L Fest to do this. It’s coming along very well on its own. I think lesbianism is so much more widely accepted now. My family is so proud of me organising this. But more importantly, they all want to come and join in.

Why do you think L Fest will succeed when many other lesbian festivals have petered out quite quickly?

There are different lesbian aimed events out there, but not many festivals of this kind that offer such variety and three whole days and nights of all inclusive activity.

What would you like to overhear participants say as they’re leaving L Fest?

‘I had an amazing time and can’t wait for next year’s!’

Your wild dreams for the festival?

Glastonbury!!?!! (Laughing hard) Ok, maybe not that big. But big.

L Fest is on 22-25 July this year. Sunday-only tickets can be purchased for £35 and there are discounts for group bookings. To book, go online.

Tiffany Lowana is associate editor at The Scavenger.

Images from top: L Fest crew; Jackie Kay, photo copyright & courtesy of Mary McCartney.

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