• Manbears Manchester

My First Time

First Time Experience on the Scene

Hello! For anyone that cares, I am Matthew! In November I broke my Bear-Ginity… that worked better in my head, and attended Pre-Hibearnation. Going to a social event like that can be very daunting for someone who hasn’t ever been to one. I had used apps like GROWLr before so I wasn’t completely in the dark, but going to an event like Pre-Hibearnation was a massive leap. When I had spoken to people online about the bear community, the response has often been mixed. “Oh its all just full of cliques”, “Well lets hope your face fits”, “Its all just about sex” are just a few of the things that I had been told. In my experience, honestly it couldn’t be further from the truth.

My Experience

I arrived on Friday with my friend who was also newcomer and we had no real idea of what to expect. We struck gold almost right away, we noticed a man wearing an XXL branded shirt and sparked conversation. Instantly we were being taken on a tour of canal street, being shown the bars, introduced to new people who would later become good friends. It was overwhelming at first, but fantastic. Eventually we arrived at the Eagle to collect our tickets. Once I mentioned to the ManBears that I was a newcomer, I was greeted with what they termed as newbie-hug! I have to say, they were bloody good hugs too so even if you aren’t new, lie and get hugs anyway!

The Friday night was Furry Balls, which was a sports kit inspired evening. Now, as you can see from the photos, I am not overly athletic, and I didn’t own a sports kit. I thought it would be a clever idea to go out in swimming trunks and a jockstrap to at least try and make an effort to be sporty… here’s a hint, it wasn’t comfortable. Poor life choices aside, it didn’t really matter that I wasn’t fully in the theme. People still welcomed me with open arms. It was a huge rush getting to meet so many people all at once, but I was holding back the first night. A lot of people at these events throughout the night end up dancing shirtless, and sometimes in jockstraps, partially because it’s fun, but also, it gets bloody warm in there! I was still ridiculously nervous though.

The Saturday night at Neon Fur however, something clicked. I had attended the bear social study during the day which was a fantastic opportunity to reflect on the first night and I was excited to bring a new confidence along with me. I was curious to see how the second big night would go, I had heard that the second big night is always the worst. However for me, this was the single best night out I have ever had. People went all out, tattoos became templates for fantastic neon patterns, people had weird and wonderful patterns drawn on them, others simply just seemed to cover themselves in anything neon they could find, a few people had even painted their entire beards, it was a glorious spectacle. I had also taken part in getting painted, and I sure hadn’t got someone to spend over an hour drawing designs on me to not show them off. The shirt was off, and I am pretty sure I ended up stood on the stage at one point just dancing the night away. I don’t think I have enough words to describe how fantastic this night was, and I am pretty sure I was one of the last left on the dance floor! At this point I think I should point out, the music both nights were fantastic, especially at Neon Fur! I never expected to hear the Applause vs Pokémon Theme Song remix on a night out…

Initially I had only planned to stay until Sunday morning, but a good amount of the people I had made friends with were staying for Sunday Service at the Eagle. For anyone who doesn’t know it’s a regular drag show, if you get the change go, it was hilarious. So I decided to stay late and just go with the flow. It was a much more subdued atmosphere, shirts remained on and people were slowly getting their trains home throughout the evening, but it was nice to be there for the wind-down. I ended up going for a meal with a couple of the friends I had made over the weekend. Being walked back to the train station and waved off the platform by a new friend was certainly a perfect final touch to the weekend. I had never felt so accepted and included in my life, it was amazing to be with people who all just wanted to have a good time.

My Advice

1) Throw yourself into it! – This is the biggest lesson I learnt going from the Friday to the Saturday, no one is going to judge you unless if you are there judging everyone else. Bears, cubs, chubs, chasers, everyone is welcome and no one is going to laugh at you.

2) Group dynamics can be very different to one-on-one dynamics - Ahem… What I mean, is if you have met anyone on the social apps, or Facebook before, seeing them in person in a group setting like this, they may not be exactly the same. Enjoy getting to know them in a different environment!

3) Don’t judge the night by how much attention you have gotten – Again group dynamics can be weird, everyone will be being pulled a million different directions, this doesn’t mean they think any less of you! Just go to enjoy yourself and any attention you get is a plus.

4) If someone isn’t your cup of tea, don’t drink! – There are so many different kinds of people who are going to be there, don’t try and force friendships and don’t judge.

5) Finally… Have fun! – Seriously.

Thank you all for reading through this! If this has helped anyone who is thinking about coming to Bear Bash then huzzah! I am more than happy to give hugs to anyone!

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