About the Conference

For more than a decade now The International Women-SM-Conference has been inviting lesbians and other interested women to indulge in their shared passions for a long weekend over Easter. Transgender men who feel part of the women's BDSM scene are also welcome. The conference offers practical workshops, time to share diverse passions, parties, a gathering place for kindred spirits, and a chance to deepen your knowledge about play practices or to discover brand new ones... English and German will be the languages of the conference and everybody is expected to contribute with the translation and communication where they can.

This Year's Theme: Development

The Development of our Community

An established network of SM Women in Europe (with ties extending to the US and Canada) has developed since the end of the ‘90s, Manchester conference, Easter conference and the Schmacht network being mainstays. The “Easter Conference” has grown to meet the dimensions of our community and has had several guises during its development: “Schmacht Conference”, "International Women SM-Conference", "Berlin Conference", "Easter Conference".

With little funding and manageability as its watchword, this conference came into the spotlight during the ‘90s, through the initiative of a dedicated few. The output was impressive. Due to the success of the concept and the participation of many it has been possible to recruit a new teams of organisers from amongst the participants in recent years, who pour in new ideas and passion, true to the motto of the first organisers: "Minimal effort and financial risk, maximal interaction and opportunities to play - also for the organisers".

To that end, we do not see the conference as an event where the organisers provide the content, but rather as a meeting point of our community, who bring the content themselves, while we take care of administrational matters.

The Development of the Conference

Following up on the last conferences, we would like to try a new way to organize events on the conference by sending out a Call for Workshops. This is an attempt to try to combine the best of two possible worlds: Open Space and invitational Workshops.

Open Space is a type of event in which the themes to be discussed are decided by the participants involved at the very beginning of the event. Thus, the themes discussed are what the majority of the participants find pertinent at that time. Each participant is responsible for looking into and choosing the workshop most appropriate for themselves, including initiating new ones if necessary. From "hot" topics come differing opinions, discussions and skill sharing, where participants can learn a lot. For each theme or workshop there is a responsible person, and both time schedules and rooms are assigned together (See also Open Space notice from 2006). The advantage of Open Space is that the themes discussed are the ones relevant for the participants. The disadvantages are, that it is not possible to prepare the contents or materials beforehand, and that the participants don't know what themes to expect.

In the variant "Invitational Workshops" the event organisers choose topics and invite speakers and therefore take over the responsibility of the content. The advantages are that the workshop leaders are knowledgable about their topic, can prepare in advance, and the participants know what topics to expect. Its disadvantage is that the themes don't always meet the interest of the participants and that some will find few or no interesting workshops.

With the "Call for Workshops", we give you the opportunity to offer or initiate the workshops which meet your needs and interests. Thus, we want to combine the advantages of both mentioned approaches:

On one hand, the opportunity is there to fill the conference with topics which are entirely relevant for you - like in the Open Space concept. On the other hand, with the extended time schedule available,it is possible for you to plan and prepare your workshops, and know in advance which themes will be offered, as in the invitational workshops format. The emphasis is placed on learning from one another and on exchanging ideas; the conference should also offer a lab space for experimental events, for trying out something really new. You don't have to be an expert in order to propose or organise a workshop . If you offer a workshop, you can use it for trying out something new, which you haven't taught before, and learn from the interaction with the participants. Furthermore, workshops can be initiated anytime, up to the very last minute during the conference.

Development as a Topic for the Conference

We would like that participants in the conference accept the challenge and incorporate the topic "Development" in the workshops. We want to request time for reflection regarding the development of the Conference and of the Community as the theme for this year. What is state-of-the-art? What developments took place? What are we aiming at? What will the conference look like in five or even ten years from now?

And what about the Conference Themes - do we stick with "Flogging 101" and similar, or do we want to ask ourselves what would we really like to have?

We think that "Development" is an interesting theme also in small, more private, contexts: How do relationships develop in a BDSM context - How do playrelations develop through the years, how do our partnerships (and other relationships) influence our community?

And what about BDSM itself? Does it stay static or does it evolve, change, move? Which developments would you like to witness here?