Camping as grown-ups!
Sharon Redrobe, her partner Louise, and their son Jake have been to L Fest every year so far. This year Jake was with family so We Are Family magazine sent Sharon and Louise to enjoy the festival as a couple. Here’s Sharon’s verdict…
We’ve been regulars to L Fest since 2012 and we’ve always had an awesome time going as a family: fields full of lesbians and kids, great music, a fun, gay, relaxed atmosphere. Jake always has a ball in the kids club; he complained whenever we tried to take him out. Louise and I loved chilling watching the different stages and walking hand in hand. Every year we’d recognise the performers who also mixed with the punters. We loved the small festival feel.
Last year it was great but the main stage couldn’t be used much because of spectacular thunderstorms. So this year all the tents were on one bit of the racecourse. This gave a much more ‘homely feel’ and weather proofed it a bit – very important!
After arrival and pitching our tent (where were the much-hyped pink wheelbarrows and helpful ladies??) we ambled towards the tented areas. We immediately bumped into a friend we hadn’t seen for 5 years. That’s the benefit of being the only lesbian festival in the UK – chances are you’ll run into old friends! Grabbing a burger and noodles from the food stalls, we sat with two L fest ‘newbies’ – a woman from London who’d come alone to make friends (and maybe more…) and a French academic studying in London for 3 months who googled ‘gay festival’ the week before. We left them making friends.
After that the days and evenings blur into one…the sign of a good festival and not parenting! Up until now we've missed the more adult entertainment but this time we took full advantage. We saw the hilarious adult pantomime chocked full of double entendres, and some not so double… We sampled several types of beer – even though we’d brought our own it sometimes seemed too long a walk back to the tent to fetch it. We camped in the ‘adult’ area rather than the ‘family’ area this time, swapping kids crying through the night for partying to the small hours.
The drag king acts were amazing too – and the ‘singalong history play’ I’d worried would be too buttock-clenching to sit through was a professional, touching production centred around the rise and demise of female cross-dressing entertainers through to modern day.
I did miss the wider range of activities we had before because of the different stage structure. I’m such a nerd – in between the music I like to dip into the talks. I did make it to one on ‘visibility of lesbians in the media’ – a lively panel debate. So it wasn’t all beer and music!
The music was less amateur this year; last year’s attendance was down because of the weather forecasts, so Cindy (the founder, or The Boss as is emblazoned on her T-shirt) down scaled this year but paid for more professional acts. Lucy Spraggan and Stooshe certainly went down a storm – though some feedback: please put all the main acts on Saturday night! Not everyone can get Monday off work so holding ‘big acts’ on Sunday night causes some people a mini crisis!! There wasn’t any spontaneous camp fire singing this year where you could find the acts playing along which dampened the vibe a bit. I fear success on the music circuit may be going to people’s heads making them less keen to play ‘for free’. A sign of the times I guess. Nevertheless, I wish L Fest every success. It’s great to see it’s different every year. We had a great time and we’ll be back next year. The question is will we bring Jake? Hard to decide!”