Take me back to L Fest
Emma Goswell remembers the weekend that was
L Fest 2018
What do you get if you mix 1000 lesbians, countless dogs, dozens of talented performers, two 80s icons, a randy Llama and put them in a field near Llandudno? L Fest 2018!
It’s taken me several days to recover and reflect on what was one of the most wonderful and bizarre weekends of my life. It’s hard to work out which was the most surreal moment: running around shouting “Has anyone seen Lady GaGa? She’s due on stage like now!”, paddling with jellyfish at 3am, watching a “seagull” attempt to mate with an “ice cream”, singing Like A Virgin around the fire pit or hearing Katrina Leskanich (of Katrina And The Waves) impersonate a pig. It definitely all happened and I definitely wasn’t on any drugs.
This year, the UK’s most popular lesbian festival found a new seaside home at Bodafon Farm on the outskirts of the quaint Welsh seaside town of Llandudno. According to the daily Welsh Post, tickets were like “gay gold dust” and the event sold out quicker than ever.
Whether it was the promise of seeing some big names like Katrina and Toyah Wilcox, or comedian Bethany Black in a glorious seaside location – it's hard to tell. Probably not actually because it's the less known bands, comedians performers, workshops and family events that makes L Fest so special and one that people return to year after year.
Where else could you rock out to JoanOvArc, enjoy the afro-funk of Sheffield band Forfathers, get down to the all-female hip-hop collective Ajah UK or perhaps take part in a Lindy hop workshop or one channelling the artwork of Frida Kahlo? There are too many incredible comedians, cabaret stars, performers or events to mention here – and I haven’t even started on the dog show! My landlady is still fuming that I didn't bring her huskie Juno but anyone who's ever met her will know she has as much chance of winning in the “best trained” category as Donald Trump has of winning humanitarian of the year. I may, however, have to borrow a dog to enter next years dog in drag contest. Seriously – it IS a thing! I believe it went to a Labrador this year but I was still a bit hungover and watching in my pyjamas so I might be wrong!
It was a smaller venue than previous years – and as well as offering stunning views out over the sea the site is usually home to a quite substantial children's petting zoo. We’re talking a large owl sanctuary, peacocks, deer, pigs, chickens and a Llama who I was warned by organisers was both angry and randy. Apparently, she'd been bereaved last year so I'm willing to excuse some of her behaviour. On Saturday night she apparently bit a woman on the bottom but what she got up with a pig on Friday night is not suitable for publication. I’d like to think that it was consensual and that love is love – so again, no judgement here!
"Angry and randy" - the llama, not Emma
On Saturday, I hosted the main stage. I’ve been in some unusual backstage areas – but this was something else. I literally shared it with about 30 hot chicks. Unfortunately, they were too busy laying eggs and eating worms to take much notice of me or the bands sound checking their equipment! There were also 50 hay bails, 10 miniature tractors for children to ride and two pigs – literally in shit.
Far from being off-putting, I think the farm vibe was appreciated by lesbians and children alike. Festival organiser Cindy Edwards was in her element, having grown up on a farm. She even provided “gay train” rides around the site and drove the tractor which pulled the carriages herself.
The farm vibe was also appreciated by the star turns too. I was joking with Katrina backstage about the wildlife – which prompted her to do the aforementioned pig squeal!
It was Katrina’s first L Fest and she absolutely rocked it – with all the hits you’d expect plus a medley of 80s female singers. She had a farm courtyard filled with lesbians screaming and dancing and literally Walking On Sunshine. I did warn her before she went out and she replied: “I’m always prepared for lesbians screaming at me! I was born ready for this moment!”
Emma, left, with Katrina
Similarly, punk priestess Toyah was in her element and thrilled to be at L Fest. Before she went on stage, I asked her if she thought there was a need for lesbian festivals and she really did. "I think its really important," she told me. "I think it's community. People who live in a hostile environment need to know there is somewhere they can go and be safe and included and they can express themselves. It’s so important that things like this exist!"
As well as her hits, Toyah treated the crowd to singalong versions of rock classics like Sweet Child Of Mine, Rebel Yell and I Love Rock N Roll. It's so wonderful, having seen her at Pride events too, to know that someone I was a fan of when I was in the closet is now such a supporter of the LGBT community. Jumping up and down singing Toyah songs with hundreds of other sleep-deprived lesbians filled my little-exhausted heart with glee and it was hard not to feel – at least for a moment – that everything was right with the world.
Emma with Toyah at L Fest 2018
So if you've never been before – do give L Fest a try. Everyone smiles and chats with one another – it’s probably the opposite of being on the tube in London! And if you're single, there's even a special camping area and social tent. You'll never a find a more friendly festival and you could meet the family you never knew you had.
One word of warning though – if it IS in Llandudno next year, give the Llama a wide birth!
Emma Goswell presents on Gaydio 4-8pm Monday – Thursday. Listen to her interview with Toyah this Wednesday after 5.30pm
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