As promised, I wanted to offer you a review of OpenCon, the convention on open relationships and polyamory. I really enjoyed it and thought it went really well. It was a uncon. This means that there were a couple of people who organised the main aspects (food and accommodation, bookings, an overall schedule). Everything else was up to participants. Participants sat at the reception desk, ran workshops, could volunteer for kitchen duties, etc. This meant it was a very participatory convention. When we arrived the schedule was pretty much open. Some workshops were down, but there were up to 5 slots at a time, 4 of them free for participants to use and organise. Needless to say, the filled up quickly.
The venue, Osho Leela, influenced how the con carried on in a very positive way. I know many people were sceptical because it’s a spiritual space. I don’t think the spiritual philosophy seeped through but there was a feeling of calmness and acceptance that I think did stem from the venue and greatly contributed to the con’s success. So, other than the vibe, what else did the place offer? Beautiful double rooms in pine cabins that had their own bathrooms, kitchens and sitting rooms (some people stayed in dorms). It was in the middle of the Dorset countryside, and included fields, gardens and a maze. The stars shone very bright at night. It’s the place where I have seen most stars in the UK. The food was beautiful and vegetarian, with vegan options. I am not a vegetarian myself, but I can say I hardly missed meat (I did a bit, too many carbs in a couple of meals, but the taste was amazing). My favourite feature was the sauna. It’s one that was built by the community, with a wooden stove. Everyone went in naked, with a towel, and then dipped in the cold jacuzzi outside, or used the shower that was also out in the open. Coming out of the sauna, naked, into the cold night and watching the stars was a delight beyond description.
Another great thing about the con was the number of European participants. There were people who came over from Germany, Switzerland, France, Spain and Catalonia, as well as expats, such as myself, who live in the UK. I think this made the atmosphere more inclusive and made us consider things in different lights. And I also like to think it brought more touch. A lot of us are caress and cuddle maniacs, and we did so often. Touch was more “mainstreamed”, even though there was also a cuddle party.
But all of this is avoiding the main point, which is what went on in the convention itself. That, I think, is very personal. For me, it was being with the people I’m seeing and with many friends, making new friends and in an atmosphere of complete acceptance. Because of that we were able to explore poly in much deeper ways than would otherwise have been possible. There were many people who had never been part of the poly community even if they did identify as poly. It was great to be able to see the community grow like that and learn from people who had developed outside it. There were people of all styles and configurations, people who were just starting to explore it and people who had been doing it for a few decades. I really enjoyed the richness and variety of it and it’s an experience I can’t wait to repeat. It’s a shame that I have to wait another year!