Even though a good portion of the United States is still experiencing weather that should've left our lives last month, facts are that summer is rapidly approaching, and with that bit of knowledge also brings to light that circuit parties will be in full swing in the weeks to come.
Although Bear Week isn't necessarily a circuit party per se, it is definitely one of the biggest gatherings the gay community (bear specific, for the most part) has in the entire world, as thousands of men descend upon Provincetown (Ptown for short), Massachusetts for a week of fun, debauchery, lobster and the hope that you can make it through without getting a "wicked" sunburn.
I have been to this event twice in the past (2014 and 2015), with both experiences being vastly different in terms of how they worked themselves out. Most of that had to do with things that were situational and on a personal level, however there were a ton of aspects to this week that made it worth going if this is something that is up to your speed and from a more general POV.
Even thought a good portion of the housing for this week is booked up by now, there is still a chance for you to get in the game and see what Bear Week is all about. Before you go, here's what you should know about what this week has to offer from someone who has seen it all from several different angles.
Gay events, no matter what type they are, can be nerve wracking to go to by yourself. Especially at something like Bear Week, where you are surrounded by gorgeous men of all shapes, colors and sizes, and you feel the need to want to fit in. I will say this: if you are someone who is completely new to this community, who doesn't know a single soul and wants to go to this, my best advice would be to get to know certain people prior to going.
This isn't a small get together, its a week full of nonstop activities, lunches, dinners, parties, etc. and unless you have the kind of personality where you can blend in with a crowd, it would be good to at least become friendly with people before getting there so you can be acquainted and approach them with ease compared to doing that with someone you have no prior experience in knowing.
Speaking of the nonstop activities part: Bear Week is expensive. If you aren't a drinker, then you are in luck, however this is a pricey place to go to, especially if you are staying the entire week. My first week that I was there I spent close to $1,600 on lodging, food, etc (and I don't even drink). This is due to the numerous amounts of restaurants that are there, many of which serve delicious land and sea options but also charge at a much higher rate than your local run-of-the-mill restaurant (unless you live in a major city, where its pretty much on par).
If you are trying to go all "balling on a budget," your best bet would be to head to the local Stop & Shop supermarket, stock up on a ton of food & beverages with your roommates, and limit yourself to maybe 2-3 meals while you are there. You will find that the money you save will be astronomical and you can use that for other activities, including shopping at the local vendors and getting your drink on at a much more consistent level (responsibly, of course).
It's always good to go to these things with a group of guys that you know, but do your best to not stick with them the entire time. Sure, it's easy to stick with the ones you are with as they are familiar territory and the nervousness with being alone at such a large event can cause major anxiety, but there's nothing wrong with flying the coop and hanging out for a night with another guy or group. Or… go out solo. The second year that I was there, I made a ton of new fantastic friends apart from my own group, and its a decision I don't regret to this day.
The activities at Bear Week, at least to me, are always fun on some level. None, I repeat none, are mandatory, however the everyday Tea Dance and the myriad of themed dance parties throughout the week are really a blast to go. It's a chance to really let your hair down and enjoy the beautiful surroundings with the community at large, and if you allow it to, can be a life changing experience that brings you that much closer to your fellow gay brethren than you ever had before.
Of course, you can still go to Bear Week and "not" go to Bear Week. What this means is, you are on a gorgeous island that has a ton of beaches, exhibits, programs and things not related to Bear Week that you can experience outside of the reasons why you came. Quite honestly, there is a lot to do here, it's just what you make of it.
And that's the purpose in Bear Week, to be honest. This is a week that can be truly special… but it's what YOU make of it. If you want it to be a week where you spend it in your room wanting it to be a revolving door of men coming in and out, then do that. If you want to "get your life" and party it up all day and night, enjoy. But go into something like this with an open heart, an open mind, and the thought process that you will hopefully have a smile on your face upon your exit from the sunny island that is Provincetown. More info on Bear Week here.
This was created by one of our Contributing Writers and does not reflect the opinion of Instinct Magazine or the other Contributing Writers when it comes to this subject.