Bang it! Bang it again!

Nope, not another post about sex. This one is about drumming at BTW.

You will see this information on the main Between the Worlds website and also in the guidebook for the festival. It bears repeating.

The evening drum circles around the fire are an opportunity for spontaneous community magic. It brings together individuals who work together to create a sacred space though drumming, dancing, chanting, spoken word and storytelling. In doing so, we can connect to the fire, the land, the stars, each other, our guides, our gods or ourselves. It’s also a time to have fun, frolic and socialize.

Because we are trying to create an unrehearsed group experience, there are some guidelines that we would like people to follow when participating in the evening fireside activities.

  • Listen and observe: When you first approach the drum circle, simply listen and observe what is taking place. Ease into participation so that you can get a feel for the group and bring your unique contribution gently into the mix. It’s less disruptive to the water’s surface if you wade in rather than cannonball.
  • Lead: Anyone can lead the group. It could be a drummer, dancer, chanter or storyteller. The activities around the fire are broken into performance pieces. They have a beginning, middle and an end. Since these are not rehearsed pieces, they may be long or brief. By listening and feeling, the group instinctively follows the arc of a piece until it’s end.. Some will end softly like a sigh while other may speed up into frenzy and end with a howl.
  • Let others lead: If you have led the group in a piece, give others the opportunity to lead the next few pieces. If someone starts a piece, it is important that everyone respect that leader by participating in the spirit with which the piece is presented. If you don’t like a particular rhythm, chant or story, please gracefully step away from the activity to socialize or watch around the outside of the fire until you feel moved to rejoin.Personal meditation, observation and socializing around the fireside activities are perfectly welcome forms of participation. If you are socializing we ask that you do so quietly in an area near the fire not occupied by drummers, dancers or chanters.
  • Bring some water if you are dancing or drumming: The fire is quite hot and extended periods of dancing or drumming can be draining. If you are drinking alcohol, you will still need water to stay well hydrated. If you see someone who looks like they need some water, please remind them to stay hydrated.
  • Please do not smoke near the drummers, dancers and chanters: If you need a cigarette, please take a brief walk away from the fire.

If you have any questions, ask!

Drummers and Instrumentalists:

  • Respect the drums: They are not to be used as end tables, footstools or chairs. Don’t place anything on the head of a drum except a protective cover. Don’t lean your elbows on the head of the drum when you are not playing.
    • Rubbing the skin in circles with the palm of your hand will generate some heat, warming the drumhead for playing. If you wish to remove moisture from the drumhead, you can do so by holding it near the fire, but not too close!
    • Do not play a drum while wearing hand or wrist jewelry.
    • Place instruments you wish to share in a designated area.
    • Drums that are covered, on their side or not in the area designated for shared instruments are not to be played without the owner’s permission.  These are traditional signs that the owner does not want them played by others.
    • Hand drums, rattles, shakers and other percussive instruments are the backbone of a drum circle. The didgeridoo, flute and recorder are welcome additions. If you would like to play an instrument not listed, please discuss that with the drum circle prior to playing it.
  • Follow the leader: One drummer will set the time and rhythm for a given piece. Follow that drummer’s lead and do not try to speed it up or slow it down. The rhythm will naturally speed up or slow down based on the energy of the circle, the chants and the dancing.
  • Try to keep time: This is music. The easiest thing to do if you are a beginner is strike your drum on the quarter note beats. You can also just strike your drum on the even or odd beats to accent them. If you need one of the more experienced drummers to count the quarter note beats for you, just ask. They will get you started. As you become more comfortable with timing you will find polyrhythm and solos possible while maintaining the established time signature.
  • Solo wisely: If you’re comfortable throwing in a solo, please do. Only one drummer should solo at a time. Solos can be short or run the length of a piece, just make sure what you are doing is in the spirit of the piece.
  • Blend: If your drum is the only drum you hear or you can’t hear the drummers beside you, then you are probably playing too loud. Adjust to blend.

If you are unsure of what or where to play, watch the reactions of the more experienced players.

The most important thing to remember, though, is the easiest to do. If you have any questions, or if you’d like to play a drum that someone isn’t playing, ask. It’s as simple as that.

163 days, Brothers. It will be here before any of us know it!


Sexual Etiquette and You

Good morning, campers! While Between the Worlds is a sex-positive event, there are some guidelines for sexual etiquette to keep in mind during the Gathering. You will see this information on the main Between the Worlds website and also in the guidebook for the festival. It bears repeating.

Gatherings are places where the mores of outer society tend to become a bit looser than one may be used to, especially where intimacy and sexual activity is concerned. In order to ensure that BTW remains a safe environment for all, attendees must respect the sovereignty of each individual in the disposition of his own body, while also being mindful of the consequences of his own decisions in that regard.  Therefore, it is very important to keep some things in mind:

  • First and foremost – no means no. Do not assume that just because someone is attending this Gathering that they have the same outlook on sexual intimacy, personal space, or attraction/aesthetics that you do. Nor should one assume that anyone’s attendance at the Gathering or any particular workshop or ritual equates to consent, or that a person’s nudity is an invitation to be sexually intimate. Anyone who has a problem understanding these concepts should not attend BTW, as violations of this trust will result in expulsion and barring from all future events.  If someone touches you or addresses you in a manner that makes you uncomfortable, don’t hesitate to make that person aware of your feelings in a calm and mature manner and ask that the objectionable behavior stop.  If the person does not stop after you have requested this, then please ask a Facilitator, Security member, or member of the Community Council to assist you with this situation.
  • Please practice safe(r) sex. This means that one should assume that the person that you are with is sero-positive and act accordingly. Use condoms as your conscience and/or better judgment dictates, use the appropriate lube for the type of condom you are using, do not share sex toys with others, and make decisions on sexual intimacy with a sober mind.  If you have a sexually transmitted disease, please be responsible and discuss this with your partner(s) before having sex.  And please be discreet where you have sex.
  • Some words on polyamory. The freedoms inherent in a Gathering of this nature can open one’s eyes to new relationship possibilities. However, it is rash to decide on the spur of the moment (say, on the way to the Gathering) that you and your partner should experiment with “poly.” This is a decision that should be discussed in depth with your current partner, with consideration of the potential impact on your existing relationship. Having said that, if you are interested in polyamory, there will be a number of people in attendance who will be happy to give you some advice on how to proceed. We’ll even have a roundtable discussion on it! Come and chat up the group. You won’t be sad about it.
  • Finally – please treat one another with respect as loving, caring, spiritual beings. Take time to reflect on the implications of new relationships before you act. Leave the bar attitudes at the gatehouse for the weekend. Maybe you’ll make some new friends, perhaps you’ll find a new love, but whatever happens, it is hoped that you will grow spiritually in the process.

We’re at 170 days from Between the Worlds! Are you registered? Remember, our registration prices go up on July 1. We’ll see you there!


BTW’s Trans Policy

Welcome back! So far, the registrations are coming in, as well as a few programming proposals. Are you registered and ready to get back to Between the Worlds? We’re ready for you to be there, too!

BTW’s policy on trans men has changed a lot in the last 14 years. We’re hoping that the new policy will open up the gates for our trans brothers to feel more welcome at the Gathering. As it stands, the current iteration of the policy says:

Between the Worlds welcomes cis- and transgender men who love men, age 21 and older, who have an interest in alternative spiritual paths.

What that means, in the simplest of terms, is that if you are a man and you love men who also love men, you are welcome at Between the Worlds.

In the past, we had a requirement that said your state- or federal-issued ID had to say male as your gender. That is much harder to do than most people (including us!) realize. By making that change to the policy, we’re hoping to make the Gathering even more inclusive and welcoming. Besides, everyone has to have an ID to get in anyway, so we didn’t need more than the policy saying, basically, “Bring your ID.”

For any trans men who are reading this, if you have questions, please email us and we’ll gladly answer.

If you have anything you’d like us to answer or discuss on here, please let us know. We’ll do our very best to address it.

Five months and 25 days, brothers, until we’re all together again! 177 days4


We’re Sexy and We Know It

Welcome back to the blog! As we’ve said, we’re planning a series of informational posts between now and the end of August to get everyone ready for the Gathering. Registration has begun, and the first few campers are already on the books, as well as a few workshop proposals! There are some topics that we’d like to touch on in the coming weeks, just so they’re in your minds as we gear up for the Gathering.

At Between the Worlds, we like to keep two things firmly in mind:

1) There is no one, true way to practice.
2) Leave your bar attitudes at home.

The second one is the one we’re focusing on here.

Body shaming has come to the forefront more in the last couple of years than ever before, it seems. It started off being about fat shaming, but has since moved into all kinds of body shaming. We’ve all been guilty of it to some extent, but the key thing to remember is that we need to be cognizant of it and not let it ruin anyone else’s good time. A lot of it is built into our societal mindset, so we may not even realize we’re doing it.

One of the things to keep in mind is that “Dude. You need to eat something.” is just as hurtful as “Dear god, he needs to cover that up!” Yes, they’ve both been said out loud to people at Between the Worlds. Also, try to be aware of body language and facial expressions. They can hurt, too, without ever meaning to.

Another thing to remember is that once you can reclaim the hurtful words, nobody can hurt you with them again. Groups like FBCU have taken the sting out of the social stigma of being overweight just by being themselves and knowing who they are.

Every single one of us is beautiful in our own way, and what you are attracted to may not be what someone else is attracted to. Vocalizing it puts that negative energy out into the universe, and there’s really way too much negativity out there as it is, don’t you think?

We need to work more on healing our community by supporting each other instead of tearing each other down. We get enough of the body dysmorphia in society in general and the gay community in specific, from all sides of the equation. Don’t do that to your brothers. Find the positivity in each other. When we say to leave the site better than we found it, so it also goes for each other.

If you have anything you’d like us to answer or discuss on here, please let us know. We’ll do our very best to address it.

We look forward to seeing everyone in 184 days! Six months from today!


Registration Opens!

Welcome to March, Brothers! That means it’s everyone’s favorite time of year — OPEN REGISTRATION! You’re excited, we’re excited, everyone’s ready for the mists of Brigadoon to dissipate and the best little gay town in the big woods opens up! Sadly, it’s still six months away, but you can now start registering to stand with us among the tribe of men that you help create.

There are some changes to registration this year:

  • The registration form has been completely revamped, and will hopefully make it easier to get through registration. It’s more visually appealing and more straight forward.
  • When you submit your registration, you’ll automatically get a copy of your registration emailed to you.
  • The Ganesha Scholarship form is now integrated within the registration form.
  • You can now pay for more than one registration at a time; however, everyone needs to submit a registration.

There are also some good changes to the website as well:

  • Obviously, we have a new blog for updates and announcements! If you have anything that you’d like us to showcase or explain more deeply, email us and let us know!
  • Website is 25% wider for better viewing
  • Trans policy updated now reflected within the covenants and FAQ
  • A contact us form is now available that will relay a message to the appropriate party. (all medical information is sent to medical coordinators only)
  • News flasher/ticker on sidebar to announce specific info has been up
  • GFG, Coordinators, and BotSB pics updated
  • Back-end code cleaned up for easy updating and smaller footprint

Dane also has a few upcoming surprises for the webpage as well that will be unveiled in the coming months.

One thing that we do want to point out is the staggered closing dates for registration. We need to have all of the registration payments in by August 15. That means that, if you’re mailing in payments, they need to be postmarked by August 8. If you’re paying by PayPal, you have until August 15. If you’re paying in multiple installments, all of the cost of that needs to be to us by August 15. If other arrangements need to be made for your payments, please email Gregory to make those arrangements. He’s more than willing to work with you on those.

As always, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, email us and let us know.

Let’s start this, Brothers! Let the countdown begin!


Good Things to Come

We’re planning a series of posts over the coming months to showcase things about Between the Worlds. They’ll include things like website updates, drumming etiquette, sexual etiquette, thoughts on body shaming, and the Between the Worlds trans policy, among other things. We’ll try to add new subjects and posts about every two weeks leading up to the event.

If there’s anything about Between the Worlds that you’d like us to discuss, send us an email.



Watch this space for more announcements and discussion about the Between the Worlds Men’s Gathering!