I’m just back from Knutpunkt, a progressive larp convention that wends its way around the Nordic countries. Larpers, designers, educators, theater people and art-lovers from more than 25 countries participated this year. By US standards, it’s a small convention–around 350 people or so, and it lasts from Thurs-Sunday, with a few pre-gaming activities the week before.
This year’s Knutpunkt was just outside Gothenburg, Sweden, and it maintained its high standards of awesomeness. I’ll talk about programming and such in other posts. For now, I simply want to bask in the afterglow of a great con and talk about some of the social stuff that makes Knutpunkt such a bonding experience for the participants. So here are a few cool off-program things I saw at Knutpunkt 2014.
(Apparently, I took no photos, so links to pictures are appreciated).
The Check Your Privilege Wall
That’s right, a whole wall where you could check your privilege. It was a huge wall covered with paper on which participants could write down the ways in which they were privileged. If you were privileged in that way, you made a tally mark to the left. The wall revealed that we all carry some kind of privilege, and it provided some interesting reminders that privilege can be context-dependent. For example, in addition to the usual items listed (male, cis gender, able-bodied, etc) there was some KP-specific stuff, like “Is holding a program item.”
It generated interesting discussion around the wall too, where people were helping others check their privilege. At the end of the con, naturally, it was torn down.
“Secret” Room Parties
Knutpunkt has a tradition of one-hour parties. The parties last only one hour because we wouldn’t want to hoard so many awesome people away from so many other awesome people for more than an hour, right?
This year, I went to two. A party for Just a Little Lovin’, a larp about the summer AIDS came to New York that has been re-run in several countries over the past few years. Some folks had come as their characters, and a rather large number of people were packed into a single room, dancing to disco. The organizers announced that their next venture will be based on (inspired by?) the cult-hit The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.
I also went to a sweet sweet Finnish room party. When I showed up, it was one man drinking alone in the kitchen of the party cabin (“I am doing something very Finnish,” he told us). A while later, we were sitting in the dark, drinking vodka and singing passionately to some swelling, yet depressing tune.
At the final party, Swedish larper Petter Karlsson had made a lovely group activity. They selected short clips of musical videos–some current and some hilariously 1970s, all with specific dance videos. The videos danced, and we tried to follow them. It was cool to watch from behind, fun, and vaguely embarrassing for everyone–in other words, a bonding activity.
The Costume Swap
For the final dance party, we all brought a few items of costuming we wouldn’t mind parting with, and put them on a table. Next, we dressed ourselves and each other in them. I was a bit nervous about how this would work in practice, but the results were fun. I started out in a trash bag blazer, but ended the night in a polka-dotted shirt and a hat meant for someone with a real lot of dreads. It was also fun for me to see my own contributions passed around–I’d worn an American flag sarong and a paper hat I’d made earlier for a rant, and over the course of the night I variously saw these items on women and men, and the sarong worn as a shirt, a shawl and a head-wrap.
The Zombie Cuddle-Puddle
I think it’s a Swedish thing. I could be wrong about this or maybe it’s only Swedish larpers, or maybe I have the whole thing wrong. But it’s a place for your friends to hug you. A few people put their arms around each other and lie on the ground. Slowly, the pile grows. After the Saturday night party, it grew from three to five, to seven, to ten, and even more, on the floor in the kitchen. As new people passed by the doorway, the people in the pile would raise their arms toward that person and chanted slowly, “join us. joyyyyyyyne ussssss.”
Meta-techniques in the Dining Hall
Several tables in the dining hall had metatechniques on them. I didn’t get around to all of the tables, but I sat for a little while at the “open to meeting new people” table and also at the monologue table. For the latter, you could ping someone’s glass during dinner to get them to say what was on their mind.
Meeting New People and Random Conversations
I love meeting new folks, and this KP I met folks I didn’t know from the Netherlands, Russia, Sweden, Finland, Ireland, the UK and more. I am probably leaving like 10 countries out. I also met a bunch of folks I only Internet-know!
I find the level of conversation–even with people I haven’t already met–to be very high at KP. This year, I had some great talks with passers-by about cultural appropriation, imperialism, fashion, gender politics, community-building, world politics and more.
Nordic Larpers Give Good Hugs
Maybe this is because of the hugging workshops. Either way. Good hugs, y’all.
What Knutpunkt Is About for Me
Overall, it’s about the people, finding new projects, and most of all, it’s a great big love-fest. This year more than other years, it was about people telling each other, “you’re awesome, and I like what you do.” I’d say that about 60 percent of the conversations I overheard began with some variation on that. For me too, this is the first year I didn’t feel like an outsider parachuting into the culture, and that was kind of nice.
Every year, I come to KP imagining it might be my last visit–this year at the end of things, I didn’t say goodbye forever. Like a cuddle-puddle zombie that just won’t die, I’ll come back.
After such a great few days of conversation and workshopping, it’s hard to go back to the comparatively less intense real world. So yes, I’m suffering from Knutedepression. Also, Knutplague.
More quick hits on Knutpunkt 2014
How was your social KP experience. Did you come home with cool new projects? What other awesome things were happening that I missed?