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...
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.
This is the final blog on this experience. All that's left is a few words about the dojo anniversary party on Saturday night.
The Copenhagen shibari dojo is two years old. Our congratulations go to its founders and members.
The night was marked by two performances by members of the dojo and by a tying demonstration by Yukimura Haruki Sensei which used all the techniques taught during the teaching days in the week. A little while later the grand master tied again, and I'm sure that there was not meant to be any kind of show element, however there was an audience.
As the evening progressed a number of people moved onto other events nearby. We however were happy to stay at the dojo and enjoyed the company and some tying of our own.
A final treat of the evening was that grand master Yukimura tied again another two times utilising techniques and ties that were not in the lessons. Having the opportunity to observe these sessions was an education in itself. A great end to a wonderful experience.
We were to leave Copenhagen with nothing but good memories of our time there. Of wonderful people and wonderful lessons learned.
The last mention here must go to clover without whom this trip would not happen. As birthday presents go, this one was something special.
Yesterday was filled with sad poetry
Today I cannot remember a word
How brief are these beautiful moments
How brief are life's joys
There have been times when I've not really been keeping up with my lovely girl Clover's blog but reading a few moments ago has reminded me why I should.
Her post on One reason to love Kimono very elequently relayed to me some of her feelings wearing and being tied in Kimono, the finer details of which would have passed me by if I hadn't read this post.
More than a costume, much more than dressing up. The beginning of a headspace, a mental preperation for a scene. Liberating and restrictive.
Also something that I hadn't anticipated at all was her words on how authentically feminine she felt in Kimono. It simply hadn't occurred to me that someone as hyper feminine as Clover appears all the time would not feel feminine at any time or that a garment that is by its nature restrictive, straight and frankly designed to play down the shapeliness of women would be one that would enhance her feelings of femininity quite separate from kink.
I have my own reasons for loving Kimono.
Not least of these is the fact that I just find them beautiful, for a variety of reasons and if nothing else that's enough. This includes the incredible materials, wonderful obis, the contrast and styles of them and so on but also some things that are harder to define.
I like the layers, the way they conceal. To the extent that slowly revealing a shoulder from a Kimono can take on much more of an erotic frission than having the body naked from the start Exposure is gradual and via many layers and ties rather than the simple stripping of clothes. Like with say 50's style of which I'm also a fan; part of the excitement is the contemplation of what's beneath as much as with the actual stripping. Disrobing someone from a Kimono is task, a process, and a foreplay in its own right.