Each community comes up with its own jargon and 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.
A way for the community to say "thank you" to people who have done stuff for it. Unlike most other LGBT awards, it's not a commercial venture to sell expensive tables at a ceremony or get clicks to a website. They also don't happen every year, but have been part of the BiCon closing ceremony when they have.
A brilliant way of reminding yourself to shut up and listen when someone with fewer privileges than you is talking about their lived experience. The idea is that instead of interrupting, you put some cake in your mouth. This means you can't say something like 'Well, actually..' and so learn something. With cake!
There's an archive of the original post about it here – The Cake Theory Of Being An Ally – and after a while, you don't need real cake…
Code of Conduct
People come to BiCon with different experiences and ideas of how to behave and how they expect others to behave. In a world where a self-confessed groper can become US President, it's important to have something that sets out how attendees are expected to behave and what they can expect. In BiCon's case, that's the Code of Conduct.
The culture of an organisation is defined by the worst behaviour you will tolerate
It's not meant to be scary, especially to newcomers, but to reassure by making it very clear that the sort of thing that happens at some other events is not acceptable at BiCon. Venues tell us that we're a lot better behaved than many other groups they get, and the Code of Conduct is one reason why that happens.
The exact wording can change from year to year, but it will cover things like what's meant by 'harassment', public behaviour, respecting difference, confidentiality, and getting help. A sample Code of Conduct is 2016's one. Whatever the one for the BiCon you are at says, follow it and please report any cases of people not doing so that you know about.
Short for BiCon Continuity, the registered charity that holds the funds that have accumulated from many BiCons since 1997 making a surplus. As each year's BiCon is run by a different team, a continuing organisation has a number of benefits to the community:
- Continity loan money to each year's organising team to pay venue deposits and the other costs that need to be paid before anyone has booked. These have increased greatly over the years and it's not reasonable to expect individual teams to pay them out of their own pockets or run fund-raising events before they can book a venue.
- Because BiCon counts as 'education' as far as the VAT rules are concerned and any surplus goes to Continuity to help enable further events, it means that each year's BiCon team usually does not have to pay VAT on the biggest part of the venue's bill: the accommodation. This saves BiCon several thousand pounds every year it's possible.
- As it's another valuable asset of the community, Continuity also holds the registered trade mark of BiCon®.
- Continuity also makes grants and loans to other bi community ventures from the BiCon surplus.
The 'Decision Making Plenary'. In more formal spaces than BiCon, a plenary session is one where everyone is expected to attend. No-one's ever suggested that for the DMP and you don't have to go to it (or any other session) but it's become a habit of organisers to schedule nothing else at the same time.
The DMP is the main 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. Because it can occasionally get argumentative, experience has shown that it is a Bad Idea to have it as the last bit of BiCon.
As well as the DMP hearing who will run future BiCons, the Guidelines came out of a DMP, for example, and have since been amended by other DMPs. Similarly, the decision to form BiCon Continuity Ltd was approved by one.
As a result of BiCon 2003 insisting that proposals for the DMP come from BiCon sessions rather than individuals, that year saw the first 'Pre-DMP' session during the normal programming, so that proposals could be discussed in a relaxed way, possibly by amending them. Although that policy has never been repeated, the Pre-DMP has run every year since. If anyone is thinking of bringing anything to the DMP, attending it is highly recommended.
Because not everyone is familiar with the word 'plenary', two recent years have called it the 'Decision Making Meeting'. Even if this continues, it'll probably still be known as the DMP for some years.
Someone brought a small pile of zines for SF con organisers to BiCon 96 or 97. Ian had a look at them, liked the idea of having a document that specified what the event was, so that attendees and organisers could both know what to expect from it, and mentioned that to a couple of other people.
It would have stayed like that, except Rowan turned up at BiCon 98 with a set that was passed unanimously there. It might have helped that that year's organisers had earlier attempted to do away with the Sliding Scale and one of the guidelines set into
stone a website page that the sliding scale was something that should happen.
Given the current (2018) fuss about trans issues, it's also notable that no-one objected to the statement "BiCon should accept transgender people as being of their chosen gender" being included in the Guidelines twenty years ago.
They've been added to since, including a complete rewrite of the access section to attempt to be much more comprehensive, and the current BiCon Guidelines are here.
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.
LiveJournal.com – a social networking site that became an important online hub for the UK bi community years before later sites like Facebook existed. LJ also became very popular in Russia and ended up being bought by a Russian company which behaved in increasingly problematic ways, culminating in April 2017's announcement that all users' LJs were subject to Russian law. Not least as these include some LGBT-phobic ones, there are now many fewer LJ users at BiCon, to the point that finding someone who still used it was part of the 'treasure hunt' at BiCon 2017.
All of the features that attracted people to LJ plus many more improvements are available at Dreamwidth.org, which is where the 'BiCon LJ' now is.
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!