OK so my memory is far from perfect so right here I'm going to apologise to anyone that I've left out by accident in any of my blogs. The published schedule is by now nothing but a vague guide as is my own recollection. It's been DAYS since the actual event and some things loom larger in the memory than others. Combined with the fact that I know for certain I missed some early shows. I've only written about stuff I actually remember seeing. So if I didn't see your show... I will not have written about it and that not writing about it does not comment upon the quality of your performance*.
After a late start, followed by lunch and interviews we eventually turned up to the venue slightly late just in time to catch the end of Gradancer and Cherrydoll's performance. This was very different to a lot of the shows and even finished off with cigar play. I wish I could write more about it but sadly I didn't see it all.
Peter Slemrian and Adreena followed.
Next was Riccardo Wildties and Redsabbath. I had a personal reason for being happy to see this performance, for me it was one of the highlights of the festival.
Finally there was Kazami Ranki and Gestalta. This was a very intense show. It may have not started out showing what it would become but the ending on the floor where Gestalta was completely choked out was an intense moment for the festivals performances to end on.
This festival has been the very best that I've attended. The attitudes of everyone attending has been the best, the most community minded, the most happy, the greatest camaraderie and the most supportive. Clover expressed it so well here. Plus it finished with Jon Murakawa dancing. And that's not something you see every day.
I am already missing the event, the people, the friends that I and we love. I cannot wait to see you all again.
*OK so one show I didn't write about on purpose due to it, and the bondage it contained being so utterly awful that I don't want to bring down the positive comments by posting even a description of either it or the attitude of the person responsible, he did himself and his countrymen a disservice with both his words and actions.
Sunday began with a bondage lesson for a very lovely couple in the teaching van outside the gallery. (Yes I know that might sound a bit odd but it did provide a perfectly serviceable teaching area complete with suspension point). We had a great lesson and I was really very happy with the progress made. I love it when I can feel that I've really given people something that they can use.
For Sunday's performances we began with Aliya from Russia doing a self suspension show which was very impressively athletic.
Moonlight Shadow followed with a psychedelic feeling show. I can only describe it as a very interesting and different and challenging performance. While it might not have been 'Japanese' style bondage it was very different to every other performance and had an affect on the audience.
Next was Hebari and Rabbitbunny. Hebari's usual partner was unfortunately unable to make it to the festival. Rabitbunny again deserves credit for stepping in at the last minute and Hebari for making it though a good show with hardly any chance to practice with a new partner.
Andrea Ropes from Italy was another rigger without his usual partner. Nina Russ stepped in for this show. (I have to give her special credit for hard work in bottoming for two shows and topping for one.) The show was another unusual ones, Andrea in full wa-fuku style clothing and Nina in a zentai suit with a paper 'radiation suit' over that. It was an interesting mix of styles.
Last on was Bob Ropemarks and Dutch Dame. Again I can only remark on how different the styles of all the performances where. Techno music, industrrial sounds, samples from the film SAW and a pigs head worn by Bob.Dutch Dame was very elegant (and also we notice the only totally nude performer in the whole festival). The show was very high paced and energetic.
With one more night to go we were exhausted but very happy and looking forward to the final evening.
After the excitement of performing on the Friday night we were ready to just enjoy watching the shows on Saturday. One of the great things about the festival is that you see so many different performers and styles and Saturday saw some of the greatest contrasts.
Special mentions must go to Jack the Whipper and Zahara who not only did a great show but showed great humour and maturity dealing with things not going perfectly smoothly. Rabbitbunny and Cherry Doll stepped in at very short notice to perform and deserve credit for getting on stage without a prepared show or knowing each other more than a day. Also Amy Morgan and Scarlot Rose who also had only met the day previously but nevertheless put on a very well put together show.
This year was the first that we saw riggers from Russia at the festival. One of the most individual was Vlada and Falco. They were very distinct and had a style very different to the other performers. Falco is a quite remarkable performer and male model, he certainly showed strength skill and grace that was quite unusual.
Finally on was Zamile and LX who provided yet another contrast by beginning their act with dance and burlesque striptease. Apparently LX hasn't danced in years. Well it didn't show and the audience really got into it. They really had fun together and their spirit of enjoyment infected the audience and rounded of the night very well finishing on a very positive mood.
We have had a spectacularly good first day at the LFAJB. Meeting old friends has been a major part of the day. And of course new ones.
Great to see Scott Smith again with Serene Chaos, it'll all end in tears if she's good. Was nice to talk with Graydancer a little. We've been at the same events or passed close several times but never really seemed to have the chance to talk properly. One of the first people we saw on arrival at the festival venue was a very tired Kazami Ranki.
It's always nice to see John Murakawa, the man just lives and breathes art and is besides one of the nicest people I know.
We unexpectedly discovered that Zamil and his partner were staying in the same location as us when as we left first thing Zamil entered apparently carrying a crate of apples. We later learned that it actually contained an extensive breakfast.
We were on the bill of performers today along with Kazami Ranki, Nina Russ, Boris Mosafir, Boykitten and 123 Avalon.
I have to say that there was a smashing atmosphere throughout the evening for the performances. The crowd was just wonderful.
I don't know what else to write at the moment. Tired but happy.
To be continued...
OK so the cases are nearly packed, the show music is nearly ready, we even have a bit of an idea what might be in the show itself. We've got thankfully minimal teaching to do and a good chance of socialising this year. So if you want to buy us dinner....
I'm kind of wondering how this years festival will go, as it will be very different to last year. I hope just as good but different.
Looking forward to this one stirs up memories from the last one too. The video below features some of the artists from last years festival.
Anyway our list of 'one or two' things to do in the morning before we set out has grown considerably...
If you're going, we'll see you there soon, come and say hello.
Well apart from wishing that the event had a shorthand name that was less of a mouthful than "The London Festival of the Art of Japanese Bondage" or LFAOJB for short. I'm really looking forward to it again.
Last year it has to be said was amazing. 10 performers over from Japan plus a few good home grown talents. This year there's more of a European flavour and even a few Americans and Canadians. There is still Kazami Ranki from Japan headlining, this is his second London festival.
I'm specially looking forward to seeing Riccardo Wildties from Italy and Bob Ropemarks (not to mention Dutch Dame) from the Netherlands. Amy Morgan from America and.... Oh it's 02:30 here and I'm blogging. Knackered and forgetting lots of people. So I'll just put - others too numerous to mention right now. There are a couple of people we wish had come that we're going to miss too.
This year will we hope be a bit relaxed for us. Aside from performing on the Friday I'm not teaching except for a few private sessions and we're not concretely booked into any of the other goings on. We really hope to spend a good amount of time socialising and getting to talk to some of the people that have been in the same place as us all over the world but we never got the time to sit down with.
There looks to be a steller line up of shows though I have to say I'm a bit sad that John Murakawa will not be performing this year. He's a real artist and he puts a tremendous amount of energy into the festival and his artistic input is a key part of it. His shows are something really special, like living pictures, so theatrical and different to anything anyone else does on stage. You really have to see one to get it, they're real pieces of theatre.
I just read yesterday that Esinem will not be performing either. He's the founder and has been the driving force behind the festival and I do think it's a shame that the pressures of the event caused him to choose not to do a show this year.
The last festival feels like it was only 5 minutes ago and also a lifetime past, this has been such a busy year.
The purpose of great bondage is not to take a photo of it, but to take the person being tied on a journey.
Today I read this post on Facebook by Mark De Viate
The purpose of great bondage is not to take a photo of it, but to take the person being tied on a journey.
I think we too often loose sight.
A great photo by a great photographer is just that.
A great bondage scene is judged best by the participants.
If you're familiar with my writings you will know that it's a view I very much agree with. It's always however well worth repeating the point.
I love doing shows, and pictures, they're great to do and a different type of experience. They are though things that we do because we do bondage anyway and the reason that we do bondage is about what it does for us personally.
It's sometimes easy for people to miss this because what people see of what we do is naturally enough the images and the shows. They're going to have to be very lucky to see what we do on a personal level (though some have).
The way folks like Wykd_Dave, Esinem, Kinoko, Osada Steve and every other person with a good suspension video makes it look, suspension is the way to go... that's where the sexy is.*
Now the above quote while very complimentary reveals something about the common conception of suspension being where it's at for people coming into rope. I am completely into the idea of floor work, I really love it, that IS where the sexy is.
The thing is that the stuff that gets videoed tends to be the shows. And shows are not necessarily representative of what people really do.
And also we as people who do shows are not trying to make it seem like the only way to go, it's only part of the stuff we do, a smaller part. Most of the actual rope play we do is on the floor, in private where mostly we don't seem to have videographers on hand.
I think sometimes people mistake what they see us do for being all that we do.
Aside from myself I do know all the people in that list and every one of us emphasises that the floor work is where it's at for intimacy and the heart of what bondage is all about for us rather than the stuff you see in some shows.
Why are there lots of discussions about learning suspension and people wanting on-line tutorials, read them, most are about people who want to stampede toward suspension without bothering with floor work, missing out on what it can be and without wanting to make the kind of real effort needed to really get to grips with it.
Personally I think that people who want to skip past floor work to suspension aren't only going the wrong way for all the other reasons I've written about but also because they are missing out. They're bypassing the most satisfying and intimate bondage.
If I had to give up suspensions or floor work I could pick in a heartbeat.
Don't miss out. Get down and dirty on the floor!
It's where the sexy is.
*I want to point out that this quote was lifted from a forum thread that was very strongly pro floorwork. This post isn't about that thread but about how people perceive suspension vs. floorwork and especially where beginners are concerned.
I have to say that I'm not normally nervous performing. I really look forward to it and the rush of doing bondage with clover on stage.
London was the first time I've really felt anything other than excited. Nervous is probably not the right word though. Certainly feeling an edge that I hadn't before though.
I pretty much put this down to the people I knew would be watching. Osada Steve, Hajime Kinoko, Kazami Ranki etc. from Japan, friends like Esinem, Murakawa etc. from the UK.
We had no concrete plan for the performance, just an idea about how to start and a rough idea of the finish. Everything in between being done on the fly. I think wracking is a good word for it. It wasn't flawless but we got through.
Once it was finished I can't describe the feelings. Everyone was very kind in their comments. Kinoko describing it as "Very sadistic" and "Hot" was so great. Learning via interpreter that Kazami Ranki liked the performance was another incredible thrill. And finally Osada Steve liking the show and very generously giving me a few tips to improve on the final day was a great bonus for us. He also praised Clover very much as a model and commented on her strength. She makes me very proud.