October 16th, 2010

Hearth

StrowlerCon, post the first.

(Stayed home from Rhinebeck, much as I wanted to go, because I wasn't physically up to it and I hadn't had time to do so many of the things I've been needing and wanting to do here at home, and that was stressing me out. So. While the family is off in town and I have the internets (please wireless router arrive soon!), I begin StrowlerCon postings.)

sindrian said at some point, "This con is like a swan - beautiful and graceful, but beneath the water, kicking madly." (I paraphrase.) It is true. This con happened in spite of so much, y'all. Too short a time to get things done adequately, hotel issues, performer dropouts, being scheduled against seven other major events (at last count), et cetera - but we improvised madly, as befits strowlers, and we pulled it all off magnificently.

Magnificently.

(I thank my lucky stars for cluegirl and aquila_dominus, for aelscha and the tech crew, for everyone who was rapid-fire competent and excellent.)

As slipjig said, this con pulled off something amazing: it created a community. Everywhere I turned, we were becoming strowler family and fast friends. I've never seen that happen at a con. The size had something to do with it, but a lot of it was the people - we had such a fantastic bunch of attendees.

When you run a first-year con, you find out what kind of con it is; no amount of prep can tell you what that con will become once it actually starts happening. Some things we now know about StrowlerCon:

* There's really no barrier between performers and attendees. This was the con where the bellydancers and fiddlers in the hallway were better than the onstage performers at other festivals! And this was the con where the pros maintained no artificial barrier. It was a con of equals, and of immensely talented people in general.

* StrowlerCon is active! Next year, more workshops, fewer panels; the panels we had were fine, but strowlers want to do, not listen. This goes back to equal footing. Numerous times I saw workshop leaders taking part in other people's workshops, just because cool, new thing!

* StrowlerCon is safe space for everyone. As you know Bob, part of what I do is talk about sexual harassment et cetera at cons. There was none of that. (From our attendees, at least. Ask me about the drunk guys from the sports bar sometime.) And no one grabbed pregnant kythryne's exposed belly. And it was a safe space for all manner of gender-variant folks. LOVE it. Such a good space!

* Strowlers are excited! All the time! The con energy was fantastic. <3 And flirtiest con ever, my goodness!

It was completely amazing, especially knowing how nail-bitey we'd been behind the scenes, to see everyone having the time of their lives. I heard "Best con ever!" a lot. The guy who did the contact juggling wants to fly me out to Dallas and put me up so I can run a StrowlerCon there.

Me: "You should talk to K; he can give you everything you need to start a strowler event there -"
Him: "No, I want you!"

I will take that as a sign that I did a good job. :)

This was a con of amazed glee. Honestly, I can't sum it up for you. It was magic in the happening. Completely remarkable and unprecedented. And I *know* that everyone there will be coming back next year. And that they'll tell their friends. O my darlings, this is but the beginning of something great.
Tam Lin - They Fight Crime!

StrowlerCon, post the second: I forbid ye maidens all

Not very long before the con, cluegirl and I were on Gchat doing con planning, as we so often were.

Clue: "Also? Something else I could use help with. We have an erotic rope artist who's taking a slot on Friday and Saturday nights. He'll have a model for the Friday night one, but we might need to find him a bondee for the Saturday night show."
Me: "Is this Lee?"
Clue: "Now I am hitting the wall on that one, because I'm not deep enough into the Scene to just ask someone up here[...]Yeah, this is Lee."
Me: "I can do it."

There are things you should know.

1. I have never done suspension ever.
2. I have never been tied up outside the bedroom before at all.
3. I have not been onstage in sixteen years.

Sixteen years.

If you've been following me, you know that I've been contemplating burlesque classes, but I keep pulling away; sixteen years is a lot to get past. Apparently what it takes for me to get past it is simply "we need this to happen for the show to come off properly". Suffice to say I did a lot I'd never thought of doing just automatically during this process just because it needed to happen and I could do it. So my thought process was "Are we likely to find someone else on short notice? Am I physically capable of this? Do I trust Lee?" The answers were no, yes, and yes, so I instantly agreed.

And then realized what I had done. **laugh**

Fortunately, I was crazybusy enough that I had no time to dwell. The nature and song and day of the performance fluctuated wildly, and I just nodded and said "okay" and rolled with it, which was sort of the theme of the convention, that things are changing every second and you just need to be light on your toes and dance the chaos.

The performance was changed from Friday to Saturday night, during Tricky Pixie's set, and instead of "The List Falls Away" - "Tam Lin".

I swear my heart skipped a beat.

"Tam Lin", which I have this tremendous emotional connection to. "Tam Lin", in October. "Tam Lin". O, loves, I brought my green mantle.

We did not have the tripod I'd be suspended from. We did not have time to rehearse - and my performance background is ballet, is acting, is me needing to know that I leap here, that I face the audience there; all of my training is for following patterns and instructions, and all we had time to do was improvise. Lee and I met briefly on Saturday and listened to the song twice all the way through, and plotted out ideas that would by necessity stay fluid and changeable, because we wouldn't know how long it would take to get me on the tripod, et cetera. Essentially, he tried the chest harness on me a few different ways, we pitched general ideas, and we wandered off to dinner.

And I did my level best to not flail! Terribly terribly nervous you have no idea. The nervous of sixteen years, the nervous of what if I look like shit up there next to Lee's grace, what if I fuck up, what if I just embarrass the hell out of myself... and I got the setlist from s00j and of course we are the finale, of course. And right before us, epic gorgeous "Come to the Labyrinth" in glorious four-part harmony as slipjig describes here. Pure magic. And I am to follow that? How can I?

s00j called Sharon Knight and Heather Dale up to the stage. Epic lineup. I took my position, heart thundering so hard I'd not've been surprised if you could see it outside my corset. Whatifwhatifwhatif.

And the song began, and upon Janet's approach to Carterhaugh, I walked out to the tripod frame -

- and the audience was gone, and it was just me and Lee.

I have tears in my eyes recalling this. Because of all of the possible outcomes, this is one that I never considered - that I would fall effortlessly into character, that it would be as if I had never left the stage, sixteen years set gently aside.

I had never realized that this was a thing I set aside.

I read my story "Fortune", by request, at my reading on Sunday; it ends with the knowledge that when everything has been taken from you, you have the freedom to choose what you pick back up, what you take with you. And for the first years of Elayna's life, she was everything; I did not write, I was not who you know now, everything was her and not me. Slowly I moved to her-and-me; if a mother is not herself, does not live her truth and her life, what mesage is she teaching? So I wore glitter and feathers, I wrote, I redefined myself.

But years of dance and acting and it was not just a thing I had not picked back up, but I had never, never, realized that I had set it down.

I picked it back up. And this, too, is me.

I plucked the rose, and Lee seized me from behind, and there was no one but us, no one, and the magnificent fear and desire and tension we held and sustained.

O, you have no idea.

Another thing I learned is that I can stay in character in the event of rope failure! *laugh* Adam and Elayna were in position to see what actually happened, but a few others thought my leg just slipped out of the rope, and no, and I want to tell you what happened so you know it wasn't that I was tied incorrectly, because Lee fucking rocks and did everything right! What happened was that he tied the chest harness to the tripod, tied up my left leg, spun me, tied up my right leg, flipped me upside down with both legs tied to the top of the tripod -

- and the fabric (upon which was written all of the lyrics, btw) tore right up at the top, sending my right leg back down.

So I had a moment of "Hey, I'm falling. But Lee will catch me." Of course, he did, and several people even thought that was part of the routine, so I have faith that we handled it well!

We kept going; I flying-squirrel tackled him with my mantle, and he thrashed beneath it, and we confronted fearsome faerie-queen s00j, and I comforted my Tam Lin; and we did. not. kiss, we held the tension, and he danced me offstage, binding me once again -

- and immediately upon arrival in the wings, I plopped down on my butt and had a tension-release gigglefit as I extracted my right leg from the trailing fabric. Which I think amused the hell out of aquila_dominus and Lee.

I could not get back down the aisle for all the hugs, and I swear, I was beyond processing information at that point. I must've asked people if I really did okay a thousand times. Because I know that what Lee and I were doing up there felt like we did it right, and I know Lee is awesome, but I know I haven't done anything like that before ever - rope bondage outside the bedroom or suspension at all or improvisation - and haven't been onstage at all in sixteen years, so "Really? I did not fuck up? Really? It is conceivable that I did okay?"

The fact that I fell right back into that headspace, the performer headspace, when I was up there - it gives me a lot to think about. All good.

To everyone who was there, and most especially s00j and Lee - thank you, thank you, thank you. You have unlocked things in me. I have a part of me back. Everything changes from here.
Hearth

StrowlerCon, post the third: My people are amazing.

The con closed with the StrowlerCon Challenge, an open mic event. I'd signed Elayna up earlier in the day, even though she didn't know what she was going to do - dance maybe? Sing? But we knew she'd regret it if she didn't sign up.

In soundcheck, she decided what she was going to do: sing "Carousel".



As stealthcello told her later to her amazement, this is one of s00j's most vocally challenging songs. Elayna didn't know that, and was gobsmacked when she found out. To her, it is what she sings in the shower, in the park, upstairs, everywhere, and so it was a natural choice. We didn't have a karaoke track, so tech dialed s00j's vocals way down (this doesn't register on the video; in person most of what we were hearing was Elayna).

She was the second person up, right after a fiddler. K introduced her, and she glided onstage in her long green velvet dress, and closed her eyes.

And sang.

And the crowd was absolutely entranced.

My girl - she has grace and presence and that voice, and there were a few bobbles, but for basically no practice with the mic? she kicked SO MUCH ASS. And the applause was thunderous. She was AMAZING.

She left the stage, and s00j pounced her, laughing, hugging the "OMG" out of her; I joined them and we laughed and hugged; Sharon Knight ran over to tell her how awesome she was, and Heather Dale gushed over her later. She really was just that awesome. My girl!

But it wasn't just her.

One by one, my chosen family took the stage. kythryne with an exquisite husky rendition of "Famous Blue Raincoat". slipjig on guitar accompanying cluegirl as she sang one of her songs, which he'd learned just that day. Person after person, and me just inarticulate with how big my heart felt, there with my amazing people.

We are magic. We are.

We are so doing this again.
Be Mine

Strowlery tangential addendum

Not con-specific, but I find it both interesting and entertaining.

Sample conversation from Saturday night:

Person, nodding toward staff-spinning sindrian: "You bring that?"
Me: "The staff or the man?"
Person: "Either. Both."
Me: "The man, but not the staff."
Person: "And your husband is there with your daughter..."
Me: "Yep, but my other boyfriend couldn't make it."

Because at that point you know what the person is asking, amirite? And yes, the other person took the opportunity to mention that yeah, only one of their partners is here, and there, we have danced around a bit and established that we're all poly folk here and so even if the person isn't going to get a yes, I won't slap 'em for asking, y'know?

I'm accustomed to everyone knowing I'm poly right off the bat, is why this amuses me so much, this "sooo..." tiptoe stuff. :)

And yes, tremendously flirty con - both with people I've known for ages and people I just met, and a long-hair rock god in leather pants and a frock coat waltzed me down the hall and kissed me whee! and so of course I could barely interact with him the rest of the night because I'm a huge dork.

This is a thing you should know about me! I can be tremendously bold as long as I think there's no way it's going anywhere. If you are clearly out of my league, I can be truly outrageous. Bold as brass, darling. But if you are actually interested I am totally thrown! I become awkward and blushy! Fortunately, so far, people have found this more endearing than annoying. Probably in small part because once I wrap my brain around their interest I am like "um, YES!"

And ah, yes, I continued my streak of not having sex with anyone at a con. This streak has been going for several years now, in fact. NOT INTENTIONALLY. And I'd *meant* to haul two particular people off and have my way with them - one previous lover, and one I've been trying to match schedules with for a long-ass time - but the time, it did not exist. Alas.

But the flirting. That was quite lovely.

I think I am done with my posty streak, because I should go get stuff done.