Tag Archives: Xpressions

First Event 2015

Just got home from First Event in Waltham MA and thought I’d share my thoughts on the event.

This year’s event, presented as always by the Tiffany Club of New England,  was the 35th annual and was held on January 21-25 at a new venue – the Westin in Waltham MA on the western edge of Boston.

SeleenaK_3541sMy darling Kim came with me to the event.  We decided to leave  home for Boston on Tuesday but stayed Tuesday night in Auburn since it wasn’t possible to get an extra day at the Westin.  Some of you who have visited or ordered from  the  Glamour Boutique’s TG Fashions might be familiar with Auburn Massachusetts.

So we arrived at the event hotel early on Wednesday.  The hotel was quite impressive and checkin was very professional and smooth.  Undergound parking, very nice room, very elegant lobby and smiling staff.

Although parking and internet are usually at additional cost, both were free to those attending First Event.

Had dinner in the hotel restaurant on Wednesday evening with Xpressions friends from Canada, and Hera and Michelle from Klymaxx Unlimited in Provincetown.

On Thursday, after a rather pricey but fabulous breakfast in the hotel restaurant, I hit the event registration desk to get my name tag and event program before spending time socializing with friends in the hotel lobby area.  Also had a wonderful chat and a couple glasses of Merlot with my friend Samantha in her hotel room.

SeleenaK_3551sEvent registration wasn’t easy to find and was not exactly efficient but was relatively friendly.

On Thursday night, we were off to Club Cafe in downtown Boston using provided transportation.  The trip to the club took us down Boylston Street and the site of the marathon bombing.

Buffet dinner and Merlot was good and the drag show, featuring Judy Garland and Bea Arthur impersonators was very well done but I’m not sure how well suited it was to our crowd.  I stayed for the entire show but many left early.  Community Service Awards were presented prior to Ms Garland to Jennifer Levi, the GLAD Transgender Rights Project and to John Warrener, the founder of The Glamour Boutique.

Back to the hotel .. drinks in the bar! And a rather late night.

SeleenaK_3559sFriday was a shopping day.  After a quick breakfast and lots of coffee, I visited Hera at the Klymaxx Unlimited spot in the vendor area.   I bought some fabulous bling and Kim bought a very cool handbag.  I should have bought the glitter clutch purse.

Friday night dinner was an oriental buffet at the hotel in the ballroom.  It was excellent, and was followed by the fashion show.  Now, I’ve been to, and have participated in, fashion shows before but this one was the absolute best ever.  Great music and dynamic commentary, an awesome runway, a fast pace and gorgeous models.

To the other events that do fashion shows, consider learning  from this one.  It was that good.

My friends Samantha, Stephanie and Lauren participated and all did a wonderful job.

SeleenaK_3538sAfter the fashion show, we went for drinks in  my friend Pauline’s room.  More vino and it was wonderful, and the conversation was a lot of fun!

After a late breakfast on Saturday, I did a little more shopping.  Bought a very high quality, “gently used” pair of oxblood Italian heels from the Tiffany’s Closet fund raising shop for $15 .. my bargain of the year.  Enzo Angiolini’s are typically sold at finer department stores and these have barely noticeable wear similar to a store demo pair.  Not exactly sky-high stilettos .. they’re just under 4″  .. but they’ll be fabulous when I have to be on my feet all day.

Spent most of the day chatting with friends around the hotel.  Finally got to meet a girl I’ve been chatting with on and off for a decade.  Melissa is a sweetheart and I finally got to give her a hug in person.

I also got to meet someone I only recently started chatting with online.  Sara is a stocking lover like me and is totally gorgeous.

Saturday evening was the gala.  The ball.  The big event.  And it was wonderful! Hors d’ouvres, good wine, a nice dinner (I had the chicken and it was good.  Sorry beef people .. lol), the best keynote address I’ve ever heard (you can read about Wayne Maines here) and the fab jazz group, Dale LePage and the Manhattans, were there after dinner for dancing or listening.

SeleenaK_3568sBut what impressed me the most that night was how everyone looked and behaved. The evening was to be elegant and everyone looked elegant.  It was the first time I ever felt that everyone made the effort to look they’re best.   And it does something to the air.  The vibe just feels so right, and it was a fitting way to conclude a wonderful conference.

In summary, I wish I had made the effort to attend this event in the past.  In my opinion, it was one of the best events I’ve ever attended.  A good value, the  volunteers are efficient and nearly invisible, the organizers weren’t all about patting themselves on the back, the best keynote speaker ever, and all in a very, very nice hotel.

According to my friends who attended many seminars, the seminars were also very good.

From the comments made by organizers both online and in Waltham, there was 500+ in attendance over the 4 days although it seemed that just under 400 were at the gala.  Huge growth over previous years.

And lastly, one more shout out to the Westin in Waltham MA.  The hotel is beautiful, staff were excellent, no waiting for an elevator, great event room rate, wonderful restaurant.   The bar was cool too but it was a little difficult to get a drink at times, especially on the final night.

They made us feel very welcome and even posted on the event Facebook page prior to the event, to tell us they were looking forward to our arrival as well as to thank us when the event was over.  Very classy.

Grace,  Andrea and crew … you ladies rock.

Gal’s Spring Fling

an early morning walkWhat is it?

Gal’s Spring Fling is the premier transgender event  in Canada.  It’s primarily a Gender Mosaic (Ottawa ON) event, with assistance from Xpressions (Toronto ON).  I’m a member of the latter.  It’s more of a social event and less about support and education (which is perfect for this girl) than some of the other events.

When is it?

It’s an annual event held late in May.

Where is it?

Gananoque (pronounced gan-a-NOK-way) Ontario, or “Gan” to the locals, is the host city for this event.  Gan is known as the Canadian Gateway to the Thousand Islands, a scenic area where the Great Lakes, and more specifically Lake Ontario, empties into the St Lawrence River, which connects the lakes to the Atlantic Ocean.

sitting outside my room

My Thoughts

Although this is closest trans event to where I live, the timing has always been difficult for me.  But this year, the planets aligned and I was able to attend.  And what a pleasant surprise it was!

What really set this one apart for me were the people .. the attendees.  Around 60 of us were in attendance including a relatively large number of significant others.  Friendly?  Yes!  This was, by far, the most approachable group I’ve encountered at a trans event.

Of those in attendance, a couple were friends, I had met a couple more and had chatted online with another two so it wasn’t like I was among strangers, even on the first day.

The town is just starting it’s tourist season so it was pretty quiet.  I sensed almost everyone we encountered were locals, and they were quite welcoming.  A couple of the girls mentioned hearing comments they didn’t exactly appreciate but none were humiliating or confrontational.

The Ramada Provincial Inn was quaint.  Motor Inn style.  Park outside the room; enter the room directly from outside.  The rooms were on the small side of average size but were comfortable and clean.  Not exactly SCC-luxurious outside restaurant at the hotel but they were fine.  The room rate was very good and a full breakfast was included.  Grouping of fifteen or twenty attached rooms were scattered around the rather large property so depending where your room was, the walk to the restaurant or bar  could be substantial, especially in heels and bad weather, but it certainly was not a problem for this girl.

The weather this year included mostly sunny, mild days with rain showers late in the afternoon or evening.

I arrived the day before the event started, got checked in, unpacked and met a small group of girls in the lobby area.  We all went to dinner at an Italian restaurant in town called Riva.    Although dinners were included in with the conference registration, Tuesday night’s dinner at Riva was not but it was fabulous!  In my opinion, the nicest dinner I had all week.  Classy, a wonderful menu with fabulous food and top notch service (although a gentleman a few tables from us suffered some type of medical emergency during dinner and required EMT’s and transport to the hospital.  Hope he’s okay!)

The other (included) dinners were good too, but the service wasn’t exactly impressive at either the Glen House or Ivy Lea Club.

The 1000 Islands boat tour was awesome.  Dinner on the boat while traveling around a gorgeous part of Canada was great fun andtook up most of a sunny and warm afternoon.  Just perfect!

Although I didn’t attend, the free makeup sessions in the cosmetic department at Shoppers Drug Mart were well received.   And the fashion show girls had a great time selecting clothes and getting fitted at Sear in Kingston ON.

Side note about the fashion show;  the organizers like to get first time attendees to participate in the fashion show.  I was to be one of the eight but while talking with a girl I had just met, I sensed that, although she was on standby (the 9th girl in an 8 girl show), she seemed more keen than me to get involved.  So I spoke to Amanda, the organizer, and opted out so the other girl could jump in.  And it worked fantastically well.  She did a great job and had a lot of fun.

Besides .. the event I really wanted to participate in was the Best Legs Contest.  And guess what?  I won!  Quite an honor considering thegetting the Best Legs trophy from Samantha other leggy entrants but my leather short shorts, Wolford hosiery and Santana stilettos surely helped.  I get to keep the trophy at home until next year’s even when I’ll get my name engraved on it for posterity.

The other conference event that always gets a lot of attention is the evening at the Legion.  Royal Canadian Legion Branch 92 puts on a big dinner and dancing evening for us every year.   It’s our best opportunity to mingle with the locals.  Dinner was good and so was the band but honestly, I can’t really get into an evening of dancing and drinking.  And having to drive back to the hotel afterwards adds another challenge.

Finally, the Gala.  The big dinner dance on the final night.  This one was held at the host hotel and is was wonderful!  Food was great and a wonderful slide show during dinner reminded us of the fun we had all week.  And I was able to have a whole lot of adult beverages but again, didn’t dance much.    And, of course, dance music makes it difficult to chat (Listen to me?  Do I sound like an old lady?  haha!)

But honestly, playing footsy under the table in a dark piano bar is more my speed these days.  Did enough dancing when I was young and even survived the disco years so Iwith my friend Pauline‘m just not interested in that anymore.

To this event, I wore my long black skirt that’s “slit up to here”; a sheer black turtleneck under a purple satin bolero jacket  and black sheer to waist pantyhose from Stockingirl.com.  I know .. stockings and a garter belt are my usual legware but there would have been no way to hide my stocking tops with the rather extreme slit skirt and it just didn’t seem like the slutty look was right for this one.

In Summary

GSF is a fun event!  Relatively inexpensive; extremely friendly people, a nice laid back feel, a good motel and held in a beautiful little town.  I came away from this event with more new friends than I ever have at any event in the past.  Did I mention friendly people?

early arrivals group photo after the boat rideYes, if transportation between events was provided I could have hit the wine a little harder.  Yes, registration was a little confusing.  And yes, me and a small handful of others would have preferred a little less dancing but, all in all, this event is a great time.  Although attendance growth is usually a sign of success, I hope this one continues forever and never grows.  This size was just perfect.

My spouse accompanied me to this event and she had a wonderful time too!  So if you’re thinking of attending, and have a supportive spouse, please bring her or him along.

A Special Thank You

It appears that circumstances this year left a single girl with the responsibility of organizing and planning the entire show.  Amanda Ryan, your selflessness and organizational skills were greatly appreciated.   Not only did you do so much yourself, you were totally sweet during the whole event.  I’ve never come away from an event in the past where I felt like I needed to hug an organizer (and never let go) but I did this time.  You’re a special lady and I hope you have the energy to continue to do this forever.

And to my non-Canadian friends, come to Canada!  You’ll have a great time.

 

Website Update and Conference Plans

I thought it was time to check in with you to tell you how things are progressing with my new-look website.

I continue to add photos to the galleries in the Members area.  Lots there … tons more to add, and I’m adding daily right now.

SeleenaK_3686My video page, also in the Members area, needs a new, more polished look.  I’ll work on that eventually but for now, all the videos are there.

I’m making progress in bringing all my blog entries to the new site.  I’m working backwards chronologically and everything from today to early 2010 has now been restored.

Whew!  Lots of work!

On a more fun note, I’m seriously thinking of attending Gals Spring Fling in eastern Ontario next month.  I’ve wanted to attend this one for years but it always fell around a weekend that was difficult for me.

The town of Gananoque (pronounced gan-a-NOCK-way) is in the heart of the  Thousand Islands on the banks of the mighty St. Lawrence River.  It’s one of the most beautiful areas of Ontario.

The Thousand Islands extends on the Canadian side from Wolfe Island near Kingston, On., to the Brockville narrows at Brockville, On.. On the American side they extend from Tibbets Point on Lake Ontario to Morristown, N.Y. – per http://www.1000islandsontario.com/

The event is presented by Ottawa-based Gender Mosaic with help from Toronto-based Xpressions.  According to everyone who’s attended, Sophia, Amanda and staff create a totally wonderful experience.

And the town truly welcomes us with open arms.  This is very incredible for a town with a year round population just over 5,000.  But they do love us!  Or our money!  Or both!  haha!

If you’re planning to attend, please let me know.  A comment here or email to the address on my Contact  Me page would be fabulous.