These are questions many in the kink community are asking, and this article, focusing on some of our major events, is an attempt to provide some answers.
Bear in mind, however, that it’s only a snapshot at the time of publication. The way the Covid crisis is unfolding, best to assume some things will have changed by the time you’re reading this — and that changes will continue for some time to come.
In the UK and elsewhere, we have seen the speed with which Governments have been increasing measures to slow down infection rates and/or ramp up help to people whose livelihoods have disappeared or are under threat.
For example, while I was putting this article together, the German government introduced a ban on public groups of more than two people, and a couple of days later, the British government followed suit.
Shortly after that, Britain brought in a raft of more stringent coronavirus restrictions, to be backed up by wide-ranging legal powers. This has involved me in a substantial amount of rewriting in an effort to keep this piece up to date.
Bans or limits on public gatherings are now widespread, with venues such as nightclubs obliged to close, which has had an unavoidable impact on fetish events.
Of course, large-scale cancellation or postponement of events affects people way beyond just the party organisers and their potential audiences. I aim to look at the wider impact on the fetish industry in a further article.
But for now, my focus is on the events themselves. And having checked a representative sample of events listed in The Fetishistas Directory from late March onward, I can say that a pretty clear pattern of organiser behaviour has emerged.
Starting with the present and the immediate future: the Covid crisis has led to all events we checked for the last ten days of March being either postponed or just outright cancelled.
Of the events described by their hosts as postponed, some have already been rescheduled for a later date in 2020, while others have yet to be assigned a new date.
But any new dates advertised now can only be best guesses on the part of promoters, whose powers to see into the future are no greater than anybody else’s.
So the best advice is to treat such new dates as provisional, however ‘firm’ they might currently appear. Monitor their status online and seek re-confirmation nearer the time.
Even the largest of our fetish event-hosting companies are only small businesses in the grand scheme of things. They don’t have the resources to insulate themselves from the financial effects of cancellations for very long.
Relatively few fetish event promoters do such work as their sole or main occupation. The majority do it either as a sideline to a ‘straight’ fulltime job, or as one strand within a broader range of creative and/or business activities.
The fact that most promoters consider themselves to be a part of the kink community and a contributor to community life is reflected in the generally sympathetic tone of their Covid crisis cancellation and postponement notices.
Many have been along the lines of: We want to party as much as you do, and it breaks our hearts to cancel. But at the present time, safety is more important than partying. We’re sure you’ll understand, and we aim to resume normal service as soon as it’s safe to do so.
However, even fetish event hosts exhibit different levels of empathy and media competence. On some events we checked, cancellation was perfunctorily announced with a simple ‘Cancelled’ or ‘Cancelled due to coronavirus’ flash across their flyer artwork.
A few events just disappeared with no apology or explanation at all. Most of us would be looking for better handling of the situation than that.
On top of cancelling or postponing imminent events, organisers with dates scheduled for later in 2020 are having to decide on the best approach to take towards an uncertain future.
Unsurprisingly, some cancellations or date moves have already been announced for April events, including some of the big international gatherings.
In London, for example, Torture Garden has cancelled both its Birthday Balls on April 17 and 18. While in Amsterdam, Wasteland has cancelled its big Rituals party on April 4.
For many of us, it’s the fate of events scheduled for May that we’re most concerned about. Coincidentally this year, three staples of the international fetish calendar all take place over the same few days in May.
Both the German Fetish Ball in Berlin and the Florida Fetish Weekend in Fort Lauderdale are set for the same five days — May 20-24. And on the
These are all big events that take a lot of organising and require a lot of upfront investment by their hosts. So it’s perhaps no great surprise that at this point their organisers are all still hoping they can go ahead.
The current official positions of all three hosts regarding the Covid crisis can be summarised as:
We don’t know if our events will happen, although of course we hope they can. We’re monitoring the situation closely and ask you to bear with us until nearer the date, when a final decision will be made.
Understandable though these hopes are, one has to wonder how likely it is that events in May will get the green light.
In Germany for example, if either BoundCon or the GFB Weekend (including the FetishGuerilla party at KitKat) had been scheduled for any date between now and April 19, these events would already have been banned under coronavirus regulations.
Germany has been hit hard by the virus, and last weekend, Angela Merkel tightened limits on public gatherings, announcing a ban on any group of more than two people. Does that sound like a government that thinks the worst will be over in a couple of months?
GFB organiser René of Xklusiv, who provides one of our promoter think-pieces on page 2, expects that it will be clear how to proceed by Easter (April 12) — a week before the German restrictions are set to expire or be renewed.
If restrictions are lifted then, the hosts of the GFB Weekend and Boundcon will likely commit to their events going ahead in May.
But if the ban were to be renewed for a further month, those late-May German events would surely have to be cancelled immediately in order to give everyone at least one month’s notice.
If René has to cancel, he has provisional plans to reschedule in one of two alternative formats later in the year. Check out his statement on page 2 for more of his thoughts on GFB strategy.
Meanwhile, Martin Pelzer of FetishGuerilla, who hosts the popular annual GFB Weekend party at KitKat, says he’s pledged to stay in sync with whatever plan is adopted for the GFB Weekend as a whole.
However, he does add that among those signed up to work at his event, including the DJs, most are not optimistic that the Covid crisis in Berlin will be over in time.
In the USA, Florida Fetish Weekend hosts Glenn and Donna also expect to be able, just after Easter, to make their final decision on going ahead or cancelling/postponing FFW.
San Francisco, with perhaps the USA’s biggest fetish community, is currently on total lockdown, with things not looking great in New York or Chicago either.
Other major event organisers such as Torture Garden’s Charlotte Heti, SubRosaDictum/ Avantgardista’s Carina Meyer-Broicher and Vancouver Fetish Weekend’s Isaac Terpstra, seem to have adopted pretty similar outlooks towards their upcoming events.
Like GFB’s René, all three have provided us with insights into their current coronavirus thinking, which you can read on page 2.
All admit they don’t yet know what’s going to happen with events scheduled further down the line. So they’ll keep monitoring, and adjusting their plans as and when required.
Even if May’s big gatherings are able to go ahead, other factors could still limit international attendances this year. Flight cancellations, cross-border travel restrictions and local facilities such as hotels and restaurants still in lockdown may all deter visitors who would normally hope to attend from further afield.
The Fetishistas Events Directory is a handy one-stop reference source, currently with around 400 listings for fetish events worldwide. Event listings in the Directory are being updated right now to reflect known Covid-19 cancellations and postponements.
People who have signed up to the mailing lists of events or event hosts should normally expect to be promptly informed by e-mail of any cancellations or postponements.
Most event hosts have websites, and most also have Facebook event pages. Be aware, though, that organisers don’t always post new information uniformly across all the media they use.
So if you assumed an event would have been cancelled but find a listing that suggests it’s still going ahead, do seek out alternative online sources that might confirm the true situation.
And if you can’t find reliable info online, contact the organiser directly and ask for an update on the event(s) you’re concerned about.READ MORE Quick Link:
BELOW: Wasteland’s big Rituals party in April has been postponed (photo: Romy Treebusch)
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