There was one point during Ladyfest Manchester on Sunday that I felt myself welling up, on the brink of crying. Let me explain why...
I'd arrived in a car full of my favourite ladies and songs on the stereo of joy. I'd set up the distro with one of my best friends and sold zines and crafts to genuinely enthusiastic people keen to read words written by allies. I received more hugs-per-day ratio than in a hell of a long time, as everybody was in a terrific mood and happy to be sharing the space and the event with each other. I'd gone off to run a couple of workshops on independent publishing and feminist activism that some absolutely wonderful participants came to full of ideas and questions and wide eyes and advice and thoughtfulness and humour and articulation and ready to share knowledges and experiences and thoughts and suggestions. Some people went away expressing to me that they were inspired to make their own zines as a result of the workshop, while some just wanted to talk more, to spend time communicating. I met some really great people that I wouldn't have had the chance to were it not for me being invited to be involved with the festival. I sat with friends and giggled so hard I thought I would cry. I saw crafts and felting that flabbered my gast with its exquisite production and boundless creativity. I saw people I hadn't seen in ages, and enjoyed catching up. I saw a band that made my ache with love for their pumpkins and dollies and treacle toffee, and was overjoyed to turn to my left and turn to my right to see my friends beaming with happiness too. I saw three of my friends take to the stage and blow my mind with the most powerful and positive and inspiring performance I've ever seen them do, almost like the ladyfest energy brought something else out within them that we always knew they had, but that that stage and reception let them see it too and took over, creating something amazing. And the way Jenny talked on that stage about feminism still being necessary and important, and me looking up and seeing that notion in action in her face and in her actions to the point that a shudder of tingles surged up my spine upon her refrain to the audience to 'keep on keeping on'. And to be stood there watching that with these people, friends, and friends-in-spirit around me who *got it*. And riding on the wave of euphoria and excitement and pride of seeing friends achieve something so incredible, along came the slits. And they launched into 'shoplifting' and there wasn't a sullen face in the room. And I looked around to see a lady, a friend, an organiser of the whole event stood there in rapture after such a stressy weekend, if not months of organising. And to hug her and hear her express just how much it was worth it to have got to this, the climax of the whole ladyfest, with such happiness and presence of mind, and proud unrestrained female voices all around us singing along with Ari Up - that's what kinda started me off in welling up. I then began to look at my friends singing every lyric, every word of 'typical girls' and hearing ari speak of them, my friends, my acquaintances, my fellow ladyfesters being family, being revolutionaries, I was just overwhelmed with possibility and potential and happiness and I could feel the tears of pride coming. So I snuck to the front in time for some of my friends to take the stage alongside the band while I stood amongst those friends who mean such a great deal to me and hugged and danced and sung and shouted along with them in unison, all the while knowing I was part of something ridiculously important and hopeful and soul-nourishing.
Thank you to everybody involved.
Photos "borrowed" from Charlotte and Emma cuz it'll probably be ages til I get mine developed
(apologies for all the grammatical and comprehension errors etc. in this post, it was written in a stream of consciousness and giddyness while the ideas were fresh in my head...)