The riot is quiet.
To truly understand the feminist phenomenon called Ladyfest, you’d have to start with a condensed brief history of the riot grrrl movement. (Sometimes spelled with only two R's, as in "riot grrl") in my opinion it was the launch pad for a third wave of feminists who created the Ladyfest. Many naysayers believed that the riot grrrl movement itself was only going to last a couple of months. But, much to certain misogynist's dismay, riot grrrl has done pretty well for itself. It has spanned over a decade and continues to influence and affect modern feminism and subversive pop culture.
Like any movement of this magnitude it has had its ups and downs and at times looked as if in its most important stages might have crumbled under the weight of good intentions.
After the movement began and after the initial shock of riot grrl, it seemed to have lost momentum and been tossed aside by the older punk rock crowd and mainstreamers. In the wake of Nirvana's wide success and new attention being drawn to Northwest rock, the term riot grrl became a meaningless overused media catchphrase and was almost dropped by the artists who gave the term its original power. But, just when people thought the movement was dead for good and the age of empowered, intelligent, and angry, women artists had been left behind in the 1990's, a new resurgence of young feminists sickened with a still-sexist society decided to take action.
Ladyfest: Shall we make her-story or cunt-roversy?
Ladyfest was orginally meant to be a place where visitors could discuss and take action on their views on topics such as misogyny in the arts and beauty standards, but it became so much more. It was designed to have people attend shows by female performers, and just have a good time in a space where they felt comfortable to be themselves. Much like the riot grrrl movement was to “punk rock”, Ladyfest was a breath of fresh air to male dominated corporate sponsored music festivals where only a handful of women were “lucky” enough to perform every year. This much-needed breather from the constant ridicule that female performers encountered was being label as, “the most potent feminist statement of the 21st century so far.”After such a grandiose statement was made, controversy arose as feminism itself is not an exact science. There were two main arguments in favor of the view that Ladyfest, as a concept, was just plain redundant.
The first was that 'being a female performer wasn’t an issue any more. Why make it one? The response made was a reaction to ignorance, specifically to people who had never been subjected to or suffered the indignity of being ignored or patronized based on gender specific prejudices. The other main argument which was in the same vein , was raised by individuals who claimed that the concept of Ladyfest was just too extreme and that it completely alienated male culture. Statements and beliefs like this propelled ridiculous speculations that that Ladyfest was a convention for man-hating lesbians who wished to castrate, if not kill all men, in order to create a super-race of queer “riot women”. This was a far cry from the actual intended objectives conceived which was the creation of an annual festival where women could perform with other women in a safe, dominant, female-friendly, non corporate environment. In retort to the false accusations made, supporters of the fest simply replied with lyrics from the, the Bikini Kill song 'White Boy' which state "I'm so sorry if I'm alienating some of you/Yr fucking culture alienates me!'” Truth be known, Ladyfest itself was open and inviting to both men and women, of all ages and backgrounds. Supporters also insisted that if any alienation was being felt at the time, it wasn’t intentional.
Ladyfest 2000 arrives !!!
Despite all the controversy, the first Ladyfest took place on August 2000 in Olympia, Washington. It followed the Olympian tradition of festivals where people gathered together to share ideas and talent, and abilities. It was held as a non-profit, community-based event designed by and for women to showcase, celebrate and encourage the artistic, organizational and political work and talents of women. It featured performances by bands, spoken word artists, authors, visual artists and more. It included workshops, panels, and dance parties. It was true to its word, as it was a woman-run event but all were welcome to attend.
Some events which addressed particularly sensitive subjects were listed as "ladies only" and were exclusively open to all women, including Drag Kings (women who identify as men), and ladies who were born gentlemen. This also applied to performing at ladyfest. Transgendered women were welcomed to lead workshops, play music, show art, do performance art, etc. Gentlemen were invited to volunteer and attend the event. Some bands with guys were invited to play, as long as there was either a female front person, or a strong focus on the female musicians involved. All and all, the first Ladyfest was huge success and proved to be one of most important feminist collaborations ever. Something the inspiring riot grrls had only dreamed of just years earlier. Though Ladyfest was never held again in Olympia, its organizers and supporters encouraged women to start Ladyfests everywhere, and that’s exactly what they did.
Since 2000, 61 Ladyfest Festivals have taken place all over the world.
LADYFEST EKINDA (Italy) - January 9, 2005
LADYFEST TRIER - (Trier, Germany) - January 17, 2004
LADYFEST LUXEMBOURG - (Luxembourg) - March 6, 2004
LADYFEST BRAZIL - (Sao Paolo, Brazil) - March 13-14, 2004
LADYFEST LANSING (Lansing, MI) - April 15-18, 2004
LADYFEST SWEDEN Stockholm (email) April 30, 2004 /
LADYFEST GUELPH (University of Guelph, Ontario) - May 29, 2004
LADYFEST TEXAS (Austin, TX) - May 27-30, 2004
LADYFEST OHIO (Columbus, OH) - May 28-31, 2004
LADYFEST RICHMOND (Richmond, VA) - April 30-May 2, 2004
LADYFEST VIENNA (Vienna, Austria) - June 10-13, 2004
LADYFEST SEATTLE (Seattle, WA) - June 24-27, 2004
LADYFEST BIRMINGHAM (Birmingham, UK) - July 9-11, 2004
LADYFEST BAY AREA (San Francisco, CA) - July 30 - August 1, 2004
LADYFEST BERLIN (Berlin, Germany) - August 1-15, 2004
LADYFEST DENMARK (Denmark) - September 10-11, 2004
LADYFEST OTTAWA (Ottawa, Canada) - September 17-19, 2004
LADYFEST BIBLEBELT (Denton, TX) - September 30-October 3, 2004
LADYFEST TORONTO (Toronto, Canada) - October 1-3, 2004
LADYFEST LEIPZIG (Leipzig, Germany) - October 22-23, 2004
LADYFEST EAST (NYC) - October 29-November 1, 2004
LADYFEST STUTTGART-ESSLINGEN (Stuttgart and Esslingen, Germany) - October 29-31, 2004 (email)
LADYFEST SOUTH #2 - (Atlanta, GA) - Nov 4-7, 2004 (email)
LADYFEST WARSAW - (Warsaw, Poland) - November 12-14, 2004
LADYFEST DUBLIN - (Dublin, Ireland) - November 12-14, 2004
LADYFEST ADELAIDE - (Adelaide, Australia) - December 1-8
LADYFEST FLORIDA - March 6-9,2003
LADYFEST PHILLY (Philadelphia, PA) - March 20-23, 2003
LADYFEST SEATTLE (Seattle, WA) - March 26-30, 2003
LADYFEST LANSING (Lansing, MI) - April 10-13, 2003
LADYFEST JAKARTA (Jakarta, Indonesia) - April 16, 2003
LADYFEST DEVON (Devon, UK) - April 25-27, 2003
LADYFEST TEXAS (Austin, TX) - May 23-25, 2003
LADYFEST OUT WEST (Denver, CO) - June 18-22, 2003
LADYFEST BRISTOL (Bristol, UK) - August 11-17, 2003)
LADYFEST BERLIN (Berlin, Germany) - August 15, 2003
LADYFEST LEIPZIG (Leipzig, Germany) - August 16, 2003
LADYFEST AMSTERDAM (Amsterdam, Netherlands) - August 27-31, 2003
LADYFEST MANCHESTER (Manchester, UK) - SUMMER 2003
LADYFEST HAMBURG (Hamburg, Germany) - September 4-7, 2003
LADYFEST HALIFAX (Nova Scotia, Canada) - October 3-5, 2003
LADYFEST LIEGE (Liège, Belgium) - October 3 - 4, 2003
LADYFEST NANTES (Nantes, France?) - October 9-11, 2003
LADYFEST MELBOURNE (Melbourne, Australia) - November 20-23, 2003
LADYFEST AUCKLAND (Auckland, New Zealand) - November 27-30, 2003
LADYFEST ORANGE COUNTY (Orange County, CA) - Date?
LADYFEST OTTAWA (Ottawa, Canada)
LADYFEST LANSING (Lansing, MI) - April 11-14, 2002
LADYFEST OTTAWA (Ottawa, On Canada) - July 12-14, 2002
LADYFEST BAY AREA (SF/Bay Area, CA) - July 24-28, 2002
LADYFEST DC (Washington, DC) - August 7-11, 2002
BELGIUM - July 20, 2002
AMSTERDAM - July 26-28
LONDON - August 1-4 2002
LADYFEST TORONTO (Toronto, Canada) - September 8, 2002
LADYFEST ORLANDO (Orlando, FL) - September 29, 2002
LADYFEST EAST (#2!) (Brooklyn, NY) - September 19-22, 2002
LADYFEST SOUTH (Atlanta, GA) - October 10-13, 2002
LADYFEST LOS ANGELES (Los Angeles, CA) - November 8-11, 2002
LADYFEST SCOTLAND (Glasgow) - August 12-14, 2001
LADYFEST MIDWEST (Chicago, IL) - August 16-19, 2001
LADYFEST EAST HAMPTON (Easthampton, MA) - August 24-25, 2001
LADYFEST EAST (NYC) - 2001
LADYFEST INDIANA (Bloomington, IN) - April 5-8, 2001
LADYFEST (Olympia) August 1-6, 2000