As we slowly start our transition from Summer to Autumn, and the pace in the studio slowly starts to change with the return of students and the hustle and bustle of city life, the team at Rogue are distracted with big plans. September is officially conference season! You may remember a blog from last September (Conference Time!) that was written by Gemma, detailing everyone’s learning experiences. Well, for this blog post I’m going to be sharing all my excitement from my very first conference (and travel) outside of the UK.
Earlier this year I attended the UK Piercing Trade Show alongside Inari Organics as a vendor. I got talking to the wonderful Damien from Neilmed and StockoThePiercer, who were both trying to convince me to travel to Germany for this years BMXnet. I had absolutely no plans to do any travelling outside of the UK this year, and definitely had my eyes set on the UKAPP’s conference in Manchester once again.
Around a month or two later during a monthly staff meeting, we were discussing this years conference season. It was decided that we as a team were all travelling to UKAPP together. Aiden, Breo and Kat are all teaching classes this year, and Gemma and myself are helping Hika (QueenofTheAshes Jewellery) on the vendor floor, as well as attending other classes. Because Gemma had recently travelled to the APP conference in Vegas (feel free to read about that here) after gaining a scholarship, and Breo has attended the the APPE conference in Spain, that meant that Aiden, Kat and myself got the opportunity to travel to Berlin for another conference.
And so I had to start planning. After only getting my passport in the January this year, traveling to Berlin was going to be my first time every leaving the country AND getting on a plane. I had absolutely no idea of what to expect (which does not work when you are a massive over planner).
I travelled to Manchester’s conference last year with a big suitcase and a big backpack, absolutely overfilled with everything I could possibly need. For Berlin, I had only a carry-on backpack! I genuinely thought it would be impossible. But, I did it! Packing only one outfit for each day, pyjamas, and a spare pair of shoes (which were very much needed in the 30+ degree heat) plus my very thought-out liquids bag. And thus the show began.
Alongside the three Rogues travelling to Berlin, the lovely Anna and her apprentice David from Revenant Tattoo were travelling for the Berlin Tattoo Convention. We got to book our hotel together, and we all got to be roommates in a sweet little hostel style hotel. They had a really good breakfast buffet included (although I did somehow manage to nearly break their toaster and start a fire by losing a slice of bread in the gap).
We also got to travel together, and even go an extra travel buddy with us too! Armelle from Death Ray Tattoo was also attending the Berlin Tattoo Convention and was booked on the same plane with us. We all met at the studio at 8 in the morning before getting a taxi to Manchester airport and flying out. I was super nervous about getting through the airport, it was very overwhelming and there was a lot to take in. Thankfully I was with very experienced travellers so I just had to follow the group and keep my cool. I got through airport security easy-peasy, and after only a small delay in the take off time, we were in the air! I was slightly nervous on the way up due to the pressure pushing me back into my seat, but once we levelled out I was absolutely fine! Well, until the descent… Everyone had forgotten to mention that I needed to ‘pop’ my ears, and on the way down I was not having a good time and was really struggling to hear for a few hours! Thankfully a nice comfortable sleep that night left me feeling well rested and back to normal. Once we got checked into the hotel we went and met Andre and Hika and a few other guys for a cheeky couple of drinks!
And so began my actual learning! Waking up at 7am Thursday morning, Rogue and Revenant split up. Aiden, Kat and myself caught the tram (the S-Bahn) to the gorgeous building where the conference was being held. Grabbing a Redbull on the way, we got to check in, grab our lanyards and some super sweet tote bags before going to town on breakfast. Scrambled eggs and bacon was a very much needed and appreciated start to my weekend in Berlin.
My first class was a really amazing bondage demonstration. We were outside in the gorgeous warm sunny air, and I genuinely couldn’t believe how beautiful it was. I then headed over to Andre and Jane’s class on the 101 basics of cartilage piercings, an Open Piercing workshop with Beppe, Cristiano and Sala, and finished off my first day with Nahuel’s history class on Body Piercing before the 20th century! Overall I couldn’t have asked for a better start. I had some super cheesy pasta for lunch, followed by cheesy potatoes for dinner and way too many Fritz-Kolas and Spritzers. Unlimited access to fizzy pop is a dangerous game!
In the evening Aiden, Anna, David, Armell and myself decided to have another cheeky pint in Berlin. We found a really cool little pub where we tried some German Bier, before deciding it was definitely food and bedtime. Doner Kebab in Germany is so much better than in the UK!
Friday was an absolutely insane day! I woke up feeling super ready, had some more eggs and crispy bacon and got started. I had some amazing classes such as the History of BodyMod in India by Jason (my absolute favourite class I’ve yet taken). I got to meet some amazing people and got talking to some new faces who I haven’t met yet! Friday was promptly finished with an early night in bed, fast asleep for 10/11pm!
Saturday morning I decided to take a browse around Berlin and have a small tour of Alexanderplatz. This was something I was really proud of. I’d never even left the country before and now I’m having a mini adventure in a random European city all by myself! I got myself an iced coffee and headed around. I got some sweet little fridge magnets for my family and got to see just how beautiful the city of Berlin is. I also took a sneaky little trip to the skate shop Titus, and had to stop myself buying a million new things that I definitely would not have been able to squeeze into my backpack!
I shortly headed back to the venue to finish off some more classes. I treated myself to some gorgeous new weights from Symmetry Body Jewellery (Queer/Revenge hearts), and some cute little Hinged Jewellery Hangers (The Ties That Bind) from Queen of The Ashes Jewellery! Saturday night was also show night, with performers from the Hullaballoo Cabaret, and it was absolutely phenomenal. I’m still absolutely amazed at the performances. 10/10!
Sunday was kind of heart breaking. Realising it was the final day, and the weekend was nearly over, I was determined to make the most of it. I attended some more amazing classes and spoke to some more amazing people before making the travel back home Monday morning.
With the sun beating down, and everyone basking in the heat like lizards on a rock, I even got a slight tan! Who would have thought! I had such an amazing time, I could talk about it forever (but this blog is already getting pretty long). A massive thank you to Aiden for giving me this opportunity, and to all the speakers, teams, volunteers and leaders at the conference who made it possible. I can’t wait to return in the future and do it all over again.