Posted by Sasha Rocket
As you may have noticed, Lashings are currently on a recruitment drive to swell our ranks with awesome people who enjoy dismantling the kyriarchy through the medium of songs and the occasional bad pun. As the very newest full Lasher, I wanted to write about my experience of joining Lashings to give potential apprentices an idea of what to expect.1
Let's get the technical stuff out of the way first: currently, the process starts with a trial period to give you a chance to get to know the collective, and current Lashers a chance to get to know you. During this time, you'll be known as an 'apprentice Lasher' and will come along to rehearsals, learn acts and basically be involved in the community until there's a general agreement that you've spent enough time2 on probation and move on to the next step. At this point, you'll pick one or more Lashers to lead a 'feedback chat', who will ask other Lashers if they have any comments or issues arising from your probation and will then discuss them with you (along with any comments or issues you have about Lashings in general). After your chat, you'll put together a document, possible along with whoever was in charge of your feedback, about your thoughts on your apprenticeship and full Lashers will then vote on whether you should become a full Lasher, your probation should be extended (rare) or you should be asked to leave Lashings (rarer still).
Well, that's that taken care of, so here's my Lash-story.
Oh, no, sorry, got carried away a bit there. What actually happened was that, wide-eyed and innocent, I entered my first ever Lashings rehearsal. I knew quite a few of the Lashers through student drama (and I use that term in the loosest sense) and had been complaining to Robette that I wanted to do something a bit less...frivolous. But still fun. And definitely still silly. Something that was silly AND serious at the same time. Something that could be an outlet for my Opinions On Things. Incredibly, such a thing did indeed exist, and right there in that far, far away galaxy we call Oxford! I was somewhat nervous the first time I went along (what if people don't like me? What if I can't sing well? What if I'm not 'activisty' enough? What if Lashings is secretly a cult of alien-monsters in radical-queer-feminist-skinsuits just waiting to pounce and consume my brain?) but everyone was very friendly and welcoming and really made me feel like it was lovely to have me there. Sebastienne told me a bit about how Lashings works and explained that they were currently in the middle of putting together their Alt Sex Ed show for Edinburgh and really needed someone to do the music for it. After much reassurance that all I'd need to do was push a button at the right time, I agreed to do it with a warning that I would most probably screw it up somehow. I'd always considered anything involving sound and electricity to be pretty much beyond me but I actually found myself working the sound desk by the end of it, and saying things like “the levels aren't quite right” and “maybe if I lower channel 4...” and “here, I have some gaffa tape!”
Getting to know the ins and outs of the show was actually really helpful because I was able to learn the acts by osmosis (not that I didn't have to spend quite a while properly learning lyrics and choreography). My very first performance in a Lashings show was incredibly last minute, due to other Lashfolk being ill and I actually had to learn some of my lines on the night! I've performed in two other Lashings shows since then (both with some actual rehearsing beforehand!) but that first one is still probably my favourite, simply for the excitement of Not Forgetting The Words the first time I went on stage! Performing with Lashings is awesome, partly because the acts are great, partly because performing is fun but largely because the audiences and the rest of Lashings are so fantastic. What I've seen Lashings do, both as an audience member and during my apprenticeship, is create safe spaces with a real sense of community which makes getting up on stage a really positive experience – it really does feel like you're up there with family. Plus, being able to make people laugh and think at the same time is brilliant.
As great as the performing aspect of Lashings has been, probably the best bit of my apprenticeship has been getting to know so many wonderful people and becoming a part of the Lash-community. I've felt really welcomed and lucky to be able to do this stuff with so many awesome, kind, funny people. So, at the risk of getting too mushy, to my fellow Lashers, thankyou, and to the new apprentice Lashers, congratulations! You're about to enter one of the best communities I've ever been a part of and have loads of fun!
2This is dependent on lots of things and so will probably be different for everyone (ish)
3About last May.
4Well, in East Oxford Community Centre. Probably.