Impressions from the Loving More East Coast conference, August 2005
by Alan, Polyamorous Percolations member
Alan is a member of this online community who frequently submits articles to us. While he does not submit monthly, his works are included here for reference.

Previous submissions from this author can be found in the Monthly Columns archives.

Wonderful event! Highly recommended, overall. The workshops were well planned to run along two parallel tracks: touchy-feely encounters of one sort or another (sometimes involving essential oils, tantra terminology, and other stuff I consider fluff); and excellent talky workshops on practical topics. Such as conflict resolution skills; a user's handbook for jealousy/insecurity management and reduction; and understanding the different styles in which people unconsciously expect love to be expressed to them, with the screwups that arise if you express love in your unconscious style rather than in theirs. Poly household management. A review of avoiding about eight STD's. Planning for well-known, predictable effects of adding a new relationship (managing NRE).

The idea behind these practical workshops was that poly life takes a lot more deliberate work than mono life. Lots of ordinary marriages fail to fix their problems and still manage to coast along down the smooth road of social programming, but poly is a rough trail in pioneer country where you have to deliberately work the wagon around every boulder and pothole (my metaphor).

There were usually three workshops running in parallel; you had to miss a lot.

To me the most interesting parts were simply the networking and story-sharing that went on. How someone's triad is arranged, and why someone else thought this is a bad idea. Why so-and-so's quad imploded.

Such amazingly interesting people! Two that I sat next to at lunch got to talking and turned out to be a former Israeli and an Arab who was born and raised a Christian in the next country over. "Oh, you're neighbors," someone put in. A former fundamentalist evangelist who got kicked out of his church for starting to think. The mono guy who came because he's in a crisis with his poly wife and wanted to see what he could learn; he arrived with a nervous, anxious face and left radiant. People I would *never* ordinarily meet. Pioneers.

Ages of attendees ran from about 25 to 75; mostly middle-aged. I'd say 1/3 were newcomers, 2/3 repeaters. There were interesting tensions between the New Agey program and the many of us with scientific/ engineering/ academic backgrounds. During a big informal cuddle party, a sweet new friend snuggled up close to me and confessed that she really, really liked my "energy." In my 54 years as a physics kind of guy, females in my circles have never used the term "energy" to me in such a situation, and I had to bite my tongue before some inept crack about ergs per square meter came out.

The conference site (a rather run-down summer camp; it will not be used again) was clothing-optional. However, very few took the option to shed their clothing (unlike the West Coast conferences, I'm told). There was a wonderful physical affection between people -- and yet even the Sunday morning sensuous-massage dance, which from a distance must have looked like a standing orgy, went by guidelines of no genital touching and asking about a person's comfort boundaries before offering so much as a shoulder rub.

There was a polysexuality party one night (not on the program), but even here, warmth, gentleness, and hands (and safe-sex practices) were the norm according to a couple of folks who were there. I wasn't; I was lying in contented bliss in the cuddle room, giving and getting kindly foot massages and face rubs while listening to talk burbling among us about anything and everything. Puppies in a pile. I really believe this is how humans are meant to live. Chimps groom each other; why don't we?

There may have been less actual intercourse among strangers than at a convention of aluminum-siding salesmen in Omaha. But what love! Many people were in tears by the close. Someone said, "Now let's go out and lead."