Bleu joined BFS as a member of Photopoint in 2014 and has been a committed member of the group ever since. In our fourth What Makes Beltane Special? article, he talks about the diversity of BFS volunteers, the memories we make together and the opportunity Beltane gives people to grow in both skills and confidence.
My first experience with the Society came during the festival of Imbolc prior to my first Beltane. For me, this was as close as it got to being one of the observers as opposed to participants. In retrospect this was on a much smaller scale than what came about later, but it was enough for me to take a gander and think “count me in, no doubt about it”. Thus, come the Beltane Open Meeting, there I was.
As a festival participant, it’s only then and there that you really understand the sweat and blood (figuratively speaking) that goes into putting on the big show at the end of the season. While watching the spectacle unfold may make for an unforgettable experience, the taking part in it all is where the most important memories and good times can be found. Plus if you’re lucky, there’s always the chance of a few (hundred) post-meeting pub trips afterward with your respective group!
It’s surprising how much you grow and develop as a person when you partake not just in Beltane, but in Samhuinn and other festivals of our ilk too. Before I joined BFS, I had little to no confidence in photographing people in spite of being involved with photography for quite some time beforehand. Today on the other hand, it’s an entirely different story. Not only that, but the friends you’ll make will more than likely raise you up higher than you could think. It’s certainly done that for me.
It’s the rich diversity of people (who all have different pre-occupations outwith the Society in the form of day jobs and/or studies et al) who come together to put on a good show that sets Beltane apart from other events that sing from the same hymn sheet. You have artists, musicians, craftspeople, stagehands, stewards and so much more coming together from all walks of life that you would never expect to see working and performing alongside one another anywhere else right in the same space.
One of my favourite musicians, the art rock maestro that is Robert Wyatt, once said this when speaking of amateur choirs in an interview the BBC some time ago. Apply this to each and every one of us that comes together for BFS-related events, and it more or less fits rather nicely:
“You can hear in people’s voice that they’re not doing it because they have to but they are doing it because they want. There’s a sense of commitment and meaning in that I really like.”
Seeing people from all walks of life and of differing stages in their skills and/or life experiences (be they 21 or 121) collaborate so well is why I’m highly passionate about Beltane as a whole. If you’re of sound heart and mind, that feeling never really leaves you.
Want to come to Beltane Fire Festival 2016 on 30th April? Book your ticket HERE.
Photo of Bleu is a self-portrait.