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Pensacola Lady Fest Showcases Women in Music and Arts Scene

Whether you would consider yourself to be someone who attends their fair share of music events in your local community or not, or even if you aren’t much of a music person at all, there’s one thing you can most likely attest to: the music scene is, for the most part, undeniably run by men.



That’s where Lady Fest comes in.

“Lady Fest is a festival of ladies, and it’s also an excuse for me to have a giant party for my birthday,” says Melody Davis, who founded Lady Fest. She says the idea came to her when she started noticing that whenever she played shows in whatever band she was in at the time, there weren’t ever any other girl bands on the bill.

“So I was like, well, why don’t we see if girls will actually start bands or just write something and last year we had a lot of girls that just kind of came out and were like, I’ve been practicing with my friend and I play the ukulele, is this okay? And I’m like, yeah, that’s fine.’”

Lady Fest made its debut last year, at Sluggos in downtown Pensacola, bringing in about a dozen acts from Pensacola and a few other nearby cities, for a two-night party featuring live music, local art and even some standup comedy.

This year will be more of the same, and Davis says she’s even more excited because some of the ladies who performed for the very first time last year, have actually stuck to it and are coming back to play again.

“This year there’s more people that have actually like, polished their act,” says Davis. “Which is, actually really, it’s fun, because I’m like, oh, you actually kept doing this and now you’re bringing it back as something that you feel way more confident in doing, instead of just being like, ‘Oh I’m not sure about this, I don’t know if I’m gonna do this song. So that’s like, that’s exciting.”

One thing that makes this year stand out a bit from last year’s event is the fact that they’ve added an extra night to include a free sex-ed class titled, “The Sex Ed You Never Had,” hosted by Kara Woodson, a member of The Feminist Society of Pensacola. In addition to watching and discussing a series of videos from Dr. Lindsay Doe’s YouTube channel, SexPlanations, there will also be a booth set up from local HIV/AIDS awareness group, HIVevolution. 

The music portion of Lady Fest kicks off on Friday night, and while the event is a celebration of ladies, Davis says she decided to allow a few unisex bands on the bill as well.

“Originally I wanted it to only be women but then I kind of felt like there are women that work with men in music and so I was like, you know, that’s fine.”

On Saturday night, you can expect to hear some standup comedy, experience Tribal Fusion belly dancing and live music from 10 separate acts, including Pensacola rap duo Cookies and Cake, which consists of Davis and Ashley Faulkner. The two write their own lyrics and most of their beats come from Pensacola’s very own Paul the P-funk Fresh, with the exception of a few songs.

“We wrote some songs that were like really silly and ridiculous, about who we were, and then we have a few songs that are serious,” says Davis. “We have a song that’s basically an anti-rape song. And it’s got a positive response, and women in particular seem to really enjoy walking into the show room and being like, ‘What did they just say?’ and then like immediately are up front like, ‘Oh my God that’s amazing!’ So, I mean, that feels really good, to at least hear that kind of reaction from people when you’re singing about something that you’re kind of like, ‘Hey, umm, can we talk about this for a minute?’”

The live music isn’t the only thing to look forward to on Saturday night though. One of the main draws will without a doubt be the encouragement to dress up as your favorite “really awesome woman.”

“So it could be your mom or your grandma. If you really think your grandma is the coolest, most wonderful woman, please dress up like her. I think it’s all about just having fun and promoting ladies.”

Justin McCoy, an English Instructor at the University of West Florida, is one person who’s definitely looking forward to it. 

“I have a costume that I wear often, at random events that seem applicable. It’s Virginia Woolf. She’s my favorite feminist in history, my favorite prominent figure.”

Regarding the conversation of feminism being for everybody, McCoy says while he is sympathetic to women who feel you can’t truly be a feminist unless you are a woman yourself, he personally believes there are real benefits in taking a more all-inclusive approach to the movement. And from what he’s seen and experienced with the Feminist Society of Pensacola, he feels like they’re onto something good.

“I feel like they’re making a big mark on Pensacola and our local community,” says McCoy. “And they’re also very inclusive which I’ve really appreciated. They’ve included men and they’ve also included the Women’s Collective at UWF, which I think is very awesome, and they have a very good heart and I think they’re very sincere about growing the group and having a very genuine, authentic impact on the community.”

Claire Inabnit, one of the members of the Feminist Society of Pensacola, agrees that in order to have any real effect, it’s important to allow anybody who wants to be a part of it, to get involved with FSP.

“We all have similar goals,” says Inabnit. “We all want to see a change in this community and bring people together in the community that have similar goals for not just women’s equality, but equality in general.”

She adds that from what she’s seen so far, she’s pretty excited about Lady Fest and the light their casting on women’s rights and equality as a whole. 

While it is called Lady Fest, Davis made special note of the fact that this is for everybody, not just ladies.

“It’s open to men and women. There was an issue last year where people thought it was for ladies only, and I’m like, no if you wanna come dance with us, please do.”

Lady Fest kicks off tonight at 9 o’clock and will come to a close on Sunday morning with brunch at Sluggo's at 11 a.m. followed by a ladies only float down the Perdido River. For more information visit www.sluggosflorida.com or contact Melody Davis via email at ladyfestpensacola@gmail.com.