In the spirit of ConFest we’re writing this review completely naked and layered in mud. Please join our circle (clothed or unclothed) as we open our heart and mind to an alternative festival. A festival without the sale of alcohol, no lines, no signage, no stages, no amusement rides, and no douche bags.
“…we were thrown into a face full of middle aged penises.”
ConFest is situated ten minutes out of the town of Moulamein in a peaceful and relaxed environment on the Edward River. We were welcomed into the town of Moulamein by a ‘voop voop’ as two police cars pulled us over for a drug search. “No sir, we do not have any marijuana”. We were asked to hop out of our Al Fresco van as they searched our wallets and bags. We made the mistake of uncontrollably giggling making us look even more like stoners, even though we had nothing.
We were sent on our way and ten minutes later saw a small flag on a gate with a tent pitched out the front. There was no signage but our instincts told us we were at the right place. We drove on in and paid $80 for a five day ticket. The man dressed in purple advised us newcomers to take it easy. He gave us a booklet on the history of ConFest, a biannual gathering for like minded people who come for the freedom of expression. The booklet had testimonials from past patrons, one of whom had been attending for the last forty seven years.
Before our last minute decision to take a road trip to NSW, we knew two things about ConFest;
1) There was no amplified music
2) Clothing was optional
Without really thinking too much about what it was going to be like, we were thrown into a face full of middle aged penises. There were certain bodily positions which made us appreciate the invention of clothing. Particularly the motion of bending down or being seated with the knees up. We tried to play it cool and maintain our giggles, reassuring ourselves that surely it would get easier by the end. We did become more comfortable with the situation but it was still bizarre to be ordering a chai tea next to a nude human. On the last day a man clambered up a log in the middle of the river and did the windmill movement with his penis. You know the one boys? An eruption of laughter and applaus came from the onlookers.
Playing it cool was not our forte. As first timers, we were serial people watchers. The strangeness of the situation made our cheeks and stomach sore with laughter. A lady with tambourines attached to her wrists started jamming and yelling her lyrics in unison with a nearby bongo drum. “I saiiid you got any alcohol. Nope. I saiiiiid you got any weed. Nope… so I weeeentt travellen” and on and on. She was incredibly enthusiastic. We had to excuse ourselves from the chai tent to contain our laughter.
The main activity at ConFest was the workshops. ConFest = Conference Festival. There was an information area set up with large blackboards which allowed for anybody and everybody to put on workshops. “How To Make Your Relationships Work”, “Party Herbs”, “How The Brain Works”, “Cuddle Party”. We slipped into a workshop on the Saturday night whereby the mediator was giving out blind folds to the females. We had no idea what the workshop was but thought, why not? As one of our other Vultures went to put their drink down, and we went to pull the blind fold over our eyes when we saw the men walking around and making out with the blinded females. Our fight/flight reaction was to run. We ran out of that tent looking behind us in horror as men as old as Pop-Eye selectively chose multiple females to kiss. The idea of having no control over who grabbed your cranium and stuck their tongue into your throat was way out of our comfort zone. Call us conservative or whatever, but that shit is fucked up. Sure, if we had been the one picking and choosing then that would have been a damn good workshop. But grandpa kisses just seem to involve too much saliva and gum for our liking. No thank you. The meditation workshop we had done earlier about “ Opening Up Your Heart” was enough fun for this lady Vulture.
ConFest does open up your mind and challenge you to question the current society that we live in. The expression of public intimacy at ConFest made it clear how unacceptable we find this behaviour in the ‘real’ world. We are taught that the body is something to be controlled and disciplined. Once you start to think about what is and isn’t normal, you realise we are constantly under surveillance. ConFest offers the freedom to be and do whatever you want to do without any judgement or consequences for stepping outside of the norm. Just don’t blindfold us and expect us to be cool with it!