This ambitious hoe-down, sponsored by Kill Rock Stars, showcases and encourages the artistic and political talents of women. It runs August 1-6 in various locations around Olympia, including the Capitol Theater, Midnight Sun, Arrowspace, and the Olympia Community Center. "It's gonna be a good time," promises organizer Erin Nire. "We're hoping that it's educational and empowering. The rock shows may get people to buy passes, but there's also a lot of interest in the art and workshops, which will be really participatory."
Afternoons will be dedicated to workshops on everything from basic auto mechanics and pirate radio, to swing dancing and "Orgy-nizing." Featured artists include Penny Arcade, photographer Cynthia Connoly (Banned in D.C./ Dischord records), papercut artist Nikki McClure, poet Stacyann Chin, author Inga Muscio, the Art Cheerleaders, and dozens of others. Nights will be filled with more girl-bands than I can list, but here's a sampling: Sleater-Kinney, Bratmobile, The Bangs, Holly Golightly, Sarah Dougher, Slumber Party, Cat Power, and the Amalgamated Everlasting Union Chorus. After-hours drag shows, open mics, an '80s dance party, and metal karaoke are also planned. Good thing the daytime events don't start 'til noon!
Artists are coming to Olympia from all over, but many Northwestern participants hope the revelries will help build bridges between the sometimes isolated alterna-communities of Portland, Eugene, Seattle, and Olympia. Portlanders making the trek include Zanna Gibbs, who will host a tranny panel; Bill Bradley will discuss organized labor in a feminized industry and anti-sexism; Cara Philips, Rose Hart-Landsberg and Barbara Stross, on gender socialization in high school; WuLa Dawson and Lamya Chidiac lead "women of color claiming space in their world;" and Britta Houser, who will co-host a workshop on dismantling racism and subverting privilege with Eugene's Youth for Justice.
Ladyfest is the brain-girl of Bratmobile's Allison Wolfe, Carrie Brownstein, Sarah Dougher, Tobi and Maggie Vail, Audrey Marrs, and about 30 other women who have been meeting and planning since late last year. Wolfe insists that Ladyfest 2000 is a woman-run event, but all genders (and ages!) are welcome to attend.
Organizers are expecting at least 1,000 people a day at the events, and have already sold 600 full-week passes. "There's so much going on. There will be plenty of room for everyone," Erin said. "I hope we double the population of Olympia."
Passes for the whole week are $55. Weekend-only and other ticket options are less. For more info (including motel and camping information), check out www.ladyfest.org.