There are a number of names, words and phrases that new BiCon attendees may not have heard of before. Here, in vaguely alphabetical order, are some of them:
The BiCon comedown
Not everyone gets this, but many people do. If you've had a good time at BiCon, re-entering the 'real world' afterwards can come as a culture shock. This is the 'BiCon comedown'. If can arrange to have a couple of days for yourself after BiCon, you'll probably find it easier to avoid.
The 'Decision Making Plenary', a session where people at BiCon debate things relating to BiCon and the wider UK bi community. Votes are taken for some things, about the only time at BiCon that that happens, and it is possibly the nearest thing the UK bi community as a whole comes to making decisions.
As well as the DMP deciding who will run future BiCons, the Guidelines came out of a DMP, for example, and have since been amended by others. Similarly, the decision to form BiCon Continuity Ltd was approved by one.
Attendance is not compulsory, so you don't have to go to it, but it's become a habit of organisers to schedule nothing else at the same time. Because it can occasionally get argumentative, experience has shown that it is a Bad Idea to have the DMP as the last bit of BiCon.
Another thing that has evolved is a 'Pre-DMP' session during the normal programming, so that proposals for the DMP ideas can be discussed in a relaxed way, possibly by amending them. If anyone is thinking of bringing anything to the DMP, attending it is highly recommended.
Because not everyone is familiar with the word 'plenary', at least one year has called it the 'Decision Making Meeting'. If this continues, it'll probably still be called the DMP for some years.
One of Rowan's many, many contributions to BiCon, Latimer is the 'BiCon Buck' and at the end of each BiCon that year's organisers are always delighted to pass the buck to next year's team.
Latimer first appeared at BiCon 2002, and was named after part of that year's venue, Latimer House. Having him on your mantelpiece for a year is both a privilege and a constant reminder of what you've let yourself in for…
The Saturday evening entertainment at BiCon 2008 was called 'Circus of the Bizarre'. Amongst other things, it featured a paddling pool filled with just over three hundred small soft toy lions (and one big one!) which was a huge hit. People took the lions home with them, and every so often they have a reunion.
The Sliding Scale
The price for BiCon (and several other events in the UK bi community) depends on your income: there is a 'sliding scale' of fees. Typically, the amount charged at the lower rates is less than the actual cost of the event and the losses from that are paid for from the profit from people with more money.
We don't ask for proof of income – we expect you to be honest – and if you pay one of the higher rates, you don't get a shinier badge. What you do get is more people at BiCon! Overall, it works and it wouldn't be BiCon without one…
"I don't have enough spoons", i.e. energy and/or the ability to do something. There is so much you want to do, and you can't do it all.
From the excellent 'The Spoon Theory' published at But You Don't Look Sick.
Some people put sticky coloured dots (and stars and any other shape you can think of) on their laminated attendees' badge to indicate something or other. The classic three are a traffic light code: red meaning 'not interested in looking for anyone', yellow /orange /amber meaning 'could be interested', and green meaning 'please!'. (But don't expect anyone having a green dot to be interested in doing stuff with you without asking them first…)
There will be a guide to the alleged meanings somewhere and it typically has colours and shapes that are said to mean things like 'likes cheese', 'vegan', 'flirt blind', 'Dr Who fan', 'Hufflepuff', 'Don't feel comfortable with most labels', etc etc etc. In reality, hardly anyone memorises the list, but "What does that one mean?" can be a good ice-breaker when talking to someone.
As a tradition, it lives on no matter how much any particular year's organisers try to discourage it by not having any sticky dots anywhere near the registration desk, and even those people who dislike it usually admit that seeing the guide to them is an interesting way to track what sort of people attend BiCon. (Silly ones, usually.)
'We agreed – no leader!'
It's a line from the wonderful Terry Gilliam film, Time Bandits:
Randall: Do you want to be leader of this gang?
Strutter: No, we agreed: No leader!
Randall: Right. So shut up and do as I say.
From the start, the UK's bi community hasn't really had any official leaders. There are advantages and disadvantages to this. Some members of the community thought it was very amusing when people from the German bi community said they'd have to ask permission from their elected board before doing something – here if you want to start a new bi thing, while it would be sensible to ask for advice, no-one's going to stop you. On the other hand, it can mean that getting things done can take a very long time indeed.
The community does have some 'opinion formers', in that if various people say something is a really good idea, it will probably be eventually agreed that it is. (Often after someone's gone off and done it – the community also has 'people who do things', and if you'd like to be one, try saying you'd like to do something.) But anyone trying the 'shut up and do as I say' approach would get the same sort of response as King Arthur did when trying to deal with the Constitutional Peasants in Monty Python and the Holy Grail:
Dennis: What I object to is you automatically treat me like an inferior.
King Arthur: Well, I am king.
Dennis: Oh, king eh? Very nice. And how'd you get that eh? ..
We're an anarcho-syndicalist commune. We take it in turns to act as a sort of executive officer for the week…
King Arthur: (impatient) Yes…
Dennis: …but all the decisions of that officer have to be ratified at a special bi-weekly meeting…
King Arthur: (even more impatient) Yes I see…
Dennis: …by a simple majority in the case of purely internal affairs…
King Arthur: Be quiet!
Dennis: …but by a two thirds majority in the case of more major…
King Arthur: Be quiet! I order you to be quiet!
Woman: Order, eh? Who does he think he is?
King Arthur: I am your king.
Woman: Well, I didn't vote for you.
King Arthur: You don't vote for kings.
Woman: Well how'd you become king then?
[Angelic music plays… ]
King Arthur: The Lady of the Lake, her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water, signifying by divine providence that I, Arthur, was to carry Excalibur. THAT is why I am your king.
Dennis: Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony!