If you’re a lesbian who didn’t get her Pride on this summer -- or even if you did and want more -- then consider the 25th annual Womenfest in Key West, September 6-11 hosted by The Key West Business Guild. This Sapphic paradise welcomes thousands of women and presents a diverse schedule of activities over six days, including the arts, music, sports, sightseeing tours, and girl-watching by the pool.
“One of the things that is so exciting about Womenfest is the broad demographics that it attracts… just about anybody can find just the right way to spend their days … and their nights,” states KWBG Executive Director, Rebecca Tomlinson.
There is definitely a party vibe—bikini contests, try-not-to-spill-your-drink-in-the-clothing-optional-pool kind of activities. Southernmost Hotel, Alexander’s Guesthouse, Aqua Nightclub and Pearl’s Key West are some places to find your inner hedonist.
Several activities are free or offered at a discounted cost. Tomlinson confirms that “many of the pool parties and dance parties are free…parties that charge a cover keep their prices low… you could just hang out by the pool…and go home feeling like you had a tropical vacation.”
Womenfest also supports your intellectual side. On the schedule—a literary reading by Ronni Sanlo, an exploration of visual arts and music by singer-songwriter guitarists Natalia Zukerman and Adrianne Gonzalez, and the U.S. premiere of the award-winning British documentary Jan’s Coming Out directed by Carolyn Reid.
In the movie, Jan Walker, described by Reid as “an effervescent 50-year-old Baby Dyke,” speaks with writers, actors and others about their experiences as lesbians. Singer Jennifer Corday, and comedians Julie Goldman and Jackie Monahan appear in the film and perform at Womenfest.
“Womenfest is a fantastic celebratory event and Jan’s Coming Out is a fantastic celebratory film. It seems like a perfect match,” says Reid who will attend Thursday night’s premiere as well as a Q & A session with Jan and producer Alison Thompson.
Hone your sense of humor with comedians Goldman and Monahan as well as Gloria Bigelow at Friday night’s “Curiously Strong Comedy” show. When asked about performing at Womenfest, Bigelow voices what many visitors may feel: “Beautiful women in a beautiful place. I have absolutely no complaints.”
Monahan professes: “I have been in love with Key West since I was a teenager reading Hemingway… It is especially exciting to be…[there] for Womenfest. I like the ladies!!!”
Can they convince women to go to their comedy show instead of a bar? Goldman advises everyone to “…combine all your favorite activities. Getting inebriated, lezzin out, and laughing your ass off.”
Bigelow elaborates: “If you stay at the bar… you’ll end up sloppy, dry-mouthed…standing on the corner arguing with your new girlfriend who you met the night before. This show will keep you hydrated and save your relationship.”
Live music events include DeBlois Milledge, Jennifer Corday & the Cougars, Shelly Bush & the BroadBAND, and others.
For the past five years, Sister Funk has been a Womenfest music favorite, playing rock and all else that moves the dance floor. Recently inducted into the Women’s Hall of Fame, Sister Funk appears throughout the week at Hog’s Breath Saloon, and performs on a Sunset Dinner Cruise on Friday night. Band co-founder Denise Troy observes “Usually Women’s festivals are concentrated to the ‘festival’ site... at Womenfest you fully experience what Key West has to offer.” She adds that “women are…empowered in a safe and encouraging environment and have a fantastic time…”
Tomlinson also credits the uniqueness of Womenfest to Key West: “Our city motto is One Human Family…we don't invite you to hang out at a hotel or a bar, we invite you to an island and into a lifestyle…We live the way other people vacation…that’s the experience we want our visitors to have.”
Womenfest in Key West
Hosted Annually by Key West Business Guild
September 6-11, 2011