I travelled up the 300 miles from the deep southwest [0f England] to Manchester for the anual transgender event with my best friend, Jemma. We arrived in good time to have a relaxing shower and hit the street.
What is Sparkle?
Sparkle is an umbrella event that encompasses everything Transgender. It is for everyone; people new to the scene, those venturing out for their very first time, those who are long-term post transition, and those that just want to dress up for fun. Every style of fasion can be found from every-girl mainstream, to formal to sissy wear.
The event attracts individuals from all over Europe and provides a safe, fun, and entertaining venue for thousands to meet, greet, find out information, be educated and entertained.
It started in 2005 as a day of celebration with a simple idea of making a free event where Trans people could meet and enjoy themselves in an event solely for the Transgender population. Each year it has gone onto bigger and better things. There are often over two thousand visitors to the event and it has a very good reputation of being a relaxed and friendly event. It even achieved charity status in 2011.
The venue for Sparkle is set in the heart of Manchester, focused within the Gay Village of Canal Street and Sackville Gardens. Many of the local venues provide sponsorship and events throughout the weekend.
People often arrive in the area on the Thursday before the event starts and enjoy visiting the shops in the city. The event kicks off Friday evening with a meet and greet then dancing and eating.
This year saw a small Trans film festive and stage play at one of the venues along the street, whist others held quizzes and special meals to start the event off on a festive note.
Saturday sees the local Sackville park transformed into a sea of tents and gazebos where information on a host of all things Trans is available, there are stalls from the Police, National Health Service, the various Transgender support groups, make over services, hair specialists and of course food vendors!
A stage is erected at the far end of the park where musicians, singers and entertainers perform throughout the day, and the Miss Sparkle and Miss Golden Sparkle events are judged.
In an area adjacent to the main event is the Manchester Lesbian and Gay Centre where a host of workshops and meetings were held.
On the list for workshops this year were facial surgery consolations, make up and styling makeovers, stress counselling, a rolling film show, photographic workshop, staying safe, poetry reading and many more – something for everyone in fact!
The main discussions held were on the Governments ‘Transgender Equity Plan’ that is being considered and trans involvement with in the LGBT consortium, which highlighted the various partnership opportunities that effects the ‘positive change’ with in society.
I travelled up the 300 miles from the deep southwest to Manchester with my best friend, Jemma. We arrived in good time to have a relaxing shower and hit the street.
The Saturday night featured a splendid ‘Sparkle Gala Dinner’ where there was a chance to dress up to the nines and have a lovely meal whist being entertained by some fabulous entertainers.
My personal Sparkle.
Sparkle, as always for me, was a lot of fun! This was my 6th attendance at the event, but the first with out my partner, as they had to work over the weekend.
I travelled up the 300 miles from the deep southwest to Manchester with my best friend, Jemma, and we arrived in good time to have a relaxing shower and hit the street. Meeting up with two other friends, Nicky and Caroline, we found ourselves in Eden for dinner , then across the road to Bar Crunch for drinks and dancing till sometime early in the morning…!
Friday saw us in the city shopping, but our first aim was to have a slap up breakfast in Selfridges. We have had a champagne breakfast there previously but alas these had been removed from the menu recently. However their breakfast was still up to its high standard.
Onto the shop floor and we all wanted various makeup and set off to find the right brand on the extensive cosmetic floor. I use a Dior foundation and found that the assistant remembered me from when I was last there 4 years ago having colour matched my skin ! We had a great chat and I received some wonderful ‘gifts with purchase’ – which is not very common in the UK yet.
Slap and Giggles
Jemma had a full makeover at the MAC counter and was very pleased with the results, whist Caroline was getting some specialist advice from one of the other areas.
On the way out we were accosted by an assistant on counter offering fitting eyelashes, and having never been successful when fitting them myself, I said that I’d give it a go! So we all sat and chatted whilst I was being fitted and enjoyed the banter with the assistants, answering all the usual questions on Transgender, families, Sparkle etc…! lots of giggles and laughter!
Every year the South West Girls dress in a theme, this year we arranged to dress as 1920’s flappers with matching dresses in different colours. We all met up in the hotel bar and made our way to Canal Street for dinner. Again we chose Eden as there was a free Sparkle Burlesque show and we had enjoyed the meal the night before. The place was packed with standing room only, and the show was very amusing with a range of acts from armature to very professional. We met up with lots of friends and took the time to make lots of new acquaintances as well.
Saturday saw the weather change for the better for the event. This year has been one of the wettest summers on record for the UK, with Manchester being one of the dampest places in the country. However the sun shone for the whole day, as we made our way around the park visiting the various stalls and chatting. All day the various acts on the stage provided a lively background to the atmosphere, with the sunshine crowing the day with a lovely warm glow.
Jemma and I went off to attend a couple of the workshops, whilst Caroline was getting ready for her participation in the Miss Golden Sparkle competition.
The park was very busy, with lots of great outfits and stunning girls! Several of the girls from the LadyBoys of Bangkok show, who were in Manchester performing as part of their national tour, were also wandering round before getting ready for their evening show.
The Miss Sparkle event was the last show of the day and a large crowd had gathered to cheer on the competitors. Our Caroline came in as a gallant runner up in the event – which was quite astounding as she had only been dressing for six months.
That night we made our way to the Gala Dinner in our finest outfits and highest heels, where we had a lovely meal and were entertained by singers, magicians and dancers. The dinner was sold out and everyone had made a special effort to look glamorous.
After the meal and entertainment we hit the dance floor and boogied on down till 1am then hit canal street and danced on till Dawn!
Sunday arrived and, alas, it was time to go home, so after a leisurely breakfast and fond farewells to all our friends, we reluctantly pointed the car south, set the satnav to ‘home’ and headed off back down the road, with lots of stories to recite and pockets full of memories. Driving along Jemma askes ..’What theme do you fancy doing for next year….?!’
Many thanks to Bella-Jay and all the Sparkle Team for all the effort that was put into making the event happen and be a success.
The event is free and relies on donations and sponsorship to exist, so a big thanks goes to them as well.
Next year’s event is on from 12-14 July 2013 – see you there!