BMXnet 12th-15th September 2019 – By Kim Hutchinson (Vice President)

BMXnet is one of the longest running currently active conferences for piercers. It celebrated 13 years in 2019. It’s a truly unique experience to attend, held in the beautiful city of Essen, just a short train ride from Dusseldorf airport.

This was my 4th time attending, and my first as a speaker. One of the things I love about BMXnet is its relaxed and informal “anything goes” atmosphere – I remember feeling a little overwhelmed my first time, but within minutes of arriving I was at ease and felt like I was among family.

The main purpose of a conference is, of course, learning. Sharing skills – both in the classes and at the bar in the evenings – is the foundation which the entire conference is built upon, but BMXnet has an amazing social aspect too! The key to this I believe lies in the venue. Unperfekthaus is a quirky, beautiful 5-storey building just off the main shopping strip in the city, it incorporates artists’ studio space and facilities, a space to create art, jewellery, clothing and textiles, sculpture and music and performance too – the entire interior of the building is decorated with work by local artists – all of which is for sale – and there are several little nooks and crannies filled with handmade items like jewellery, pincushions, knitted socks and other handcrafted items like trinket boxes and puzzles that you can purchase by paying into the ‘honesty boxes’ there. This artist-friendly atmosphere really lends itself to the event and the people who attend fit seamlessly into the environment provided. And I couldn’t talk about UPH without mentioning the food! A daily buffet is laid on for both attendees and members of the public who can pay a small charge to help themselves to a great choice of food – with vegetarian and vegan options too. A personal indulgence of mine is their rhubarb and red-currant cake which I ate more of than I am prepared to admit! See more about the house and its amazing work with the local community here:

For those of you reading who have never been to a piercer conference, it’s a very ‘family’ orientated vibe, lots of hugs (if that’s your thing), catching up with people you haven’t seen in ages, and as mentioned, a HUGE social aspect! BMXnet is very informal and this piercer thinks this is another of the secrets to its success! Please consider attending if you are a piercer – the knowledge you will gain and the friends you will make will enrich your career in so many ways! The conference has a ‘triple whammy’ of piercers, tattooists and body modification artists, the classes are varied and multiple languages are available (English, French, German and Spanish) from speakers – with some running their class twice, each time in a different language! As well as technique classes, we learn about our history, the psychology and anthropology behind our careers and of course roundtable discussions where a topic is discussed at length from different experiences and viewpoints – I love these as everyone contributes to the discussion, and there is no ‘right’ answer.

I was teaching 2 classes there and once the nerves had subsided, thoroughly enjoyed speaking to a group of my peers and getting feedback on the topics discussed. I also attended classes by piercers from all over the world, and picked up some valuable information and tips and techniques which I have since implemented into my daily work as a piercer. I was also asked to join Ryan Ouelette for another podcast, to discuss conferences and how they don’t simply fall out of your bottom the night before – the planning, organising, arranging and then the setting up, running of and the aftermath of a conference can be nothing short of exhausting, which is why so many of us are simply in awe of what Stefan and his team at BMXnet can do! As a UKAPP board member who has some responsibility for organising our conference, I also pick up a lot of pointers about the running of a conference from attending!

I met with friends from other areas of the UK as well as people from around the globe, we shared a few beers, had a few laughs and played our favourite conference game “What’s In Yer Pockets, Dan?” where a friend of ours shows off the treasure he carries around with him (items included a small ceramic giraffe, a lego Jafar and a severely damaged female condom).

Leaving such a beautiful venue – and indeed a beautiful city! – always fills me with a sense of sadness, but knowing I shall be returning next year gives me something to look forward to, especially if there’s any more of that rhubarb cake there….

You can view pics from the event and see info on future ones – and piercers, tattooists and body modders can register to attend – here: