Be My Valentine event report


A little after the fact, but it’s time for a proper written event report from the tea party in Edinburgh. The boundaries between what is “just” a large tea party and what is an event are quite fluid, however, Fàilte Bhlàth is a proper company dedicated to organising events in Scotland and every visibility boost will help them to put on more. And based on this one, I know that you will all want to get in on this whilst they’re still building up. Just trust me.

On Saturday February 17th a whole host of lolitas descended upon The Black Ivy hotel in Edinburgh. This was Fàilte Bhlàth’s second official event (the first one being a Halloween one in October 2023) and as you may have guessed from the event name, was themed for Valentine’s Day. Nothing is a better Valentine’s Day celebration than showing the love and appreciation that we all have for the lolita fashion community, so I booked myself to go as soon as the ticket sale opened via Eventbrite. And at £45/person this was a very reasonable price for the advertised good times with an afternoon tea spread, an option of adding a fancy drink for a little bit extra, and bingo.

Our venue for the day, photo courtesy of Black Ivy's website.

The event was open to all who could make it, though the non-Scottish contingent was significantly outnumbered (myself included, I counted 5 people). Although “outnumbered” makes it sound negative somehow when that is absolutely not the case. What was beautiful to witness is the unity of the Scottish comm. Most people I had spoken to were actually from outside of Edinburgh and travelled there from other cities. It gave me the same warm community spirit that the Northern comms do with cross-posting each other’s events, the one that says 'we may be from different places, but we are still one'. And judging by the mixing of smaller groups throughout the event, people do actually see each other at various meetups throughout the year, some more frequently than others, which meant a healthy mixing of friendship groups.

Look how different (happier) that same space looks when filled with lolitas!
Photo by Megan Kidd.

I arrived around 20 minutes early and immediately spotted a small group of lolitas waiting outside. One of the many upsides to our fashion is our high visibility – as soon as someone in a petticoat rocks up, you know that they are there for the same thing and welcome you to the circle. Although we didn’t have to wait long for the organisers to arrive and tell us that we can wait inside instead whilst they prepare. The Black Ivy had designated a separate room for us, which despite being behind glass (and thus visible to everyone inside) still offered precisely the level of privacy and natural light that we wanted. The decor throughout the venue is filled with cascades of wisteria flowers, fairy lights, high ceilings, and chandeliers, so everywhere we went was a beautiful backdrop for a photo. Moreover, whilst our food service included hot drinks and water, the bar was open to all who may have wanted a fancy cocktail or mocktail and didn’t manage to get one along with their ticket.

Once the room was ready for us to go in, we filled in the seats as best we could between the two long tables and the window bay. There was still enough room for people to walk in between, whether that be servers with trays of food or us wanting to say hello to someone, without having to worry about any accidental damages. Anyone who’s ever been anywhere in a petticoat knows the importance of passage space, so this was perfect. The organisers provided every attendee with a goodie bag, a beautiful pink paper bag tied with a ribbon, inside which were a packet of heart-shaped vegan-friendly sweets, a fragrance pouch, a bracelet from Belle Dreams, and a large custom illustration commemorating the event created by @muwudraws. Admittedly, I haven’t opened mine until I arrived back home, which is a shame as maybe I would’ve been able to trade my bracelet for one in a colour that I am more likely to wear, but I was too distracted by everything else.

A poor screenshot of the goodie bag goodies.

The service provided by The Black Ivy was excellent. With impeccable organisation and guidance from Caitlyn, our additional drinks (a mocktail called Driving Miss Daisy in my case) were distributed out, everyone’s cups were filled with tea or coffee, and we had all just about settled and our appetites were whetted just enough before the food arrived. The food was delicious, even the bits that I am not usually keen on but tried just to make sure that I haven’t changed my mind were made with high quality ingredients and tasted lovely. Any gaps or delays were addressed by the staff quite promptly, which allowed everyone to enjoy eating at their own pace.

We love an afternoon tea spread with a generous savoury tier.

And the leisurely, friendly atmosphere was the theme for the day. One pitfall that event organisers big and small can end up having is overstuffing their event with activities. As nice as it is to have things to do and something to guide the flow of the day, the main reason why lolitas go to tea parties is to be social. Having the space, physically and in terms of the time, to do precisely that, to catch up with old friends, to make new ones, to commemorate the occasion with a ridiculous amount of photos – that is what made Be My Valentine a success. Not once have I felt like I had to rush and because of the comfortable size of the event, even though I definitely did not speak with everyone, I felt like I made plenty enough new friends and chatted with a good number of people over the course of the day.

Just two people who finally met in person after following each other online for years. I.e. what lolita events are for.
Photo by Megan Kidd.

Of course, let’s not forget the bingo! Fàilte Bhlàth prepared three prizes, two quite sweet and one a bit more classic/gothic (which was highly reflective of the ratios of the substyles, actually – I’d say the event was 90% sweet lolitas, 8% gothic, and 2% classic), and to go with the proper bingo cards the number caller even had a proper mic headset and pack. To those outside of the UK the level of seriousness that people apply to bingo may seem a little daft, but there’s no other way to approach bingo other than seriously. It is a game that requires utmost concentration and even though at the tea party the pace of calling out the numbers was much slower than it is at bingo halls, it still had some attendees not used to the layout of the cards a little flustered. In the end, luck has a way of finding the right people for the prizes, so all three winners ended up with prizes that really suited their styles and outfits.

And another excellent screenshot. I am a total pro at this event report thing.

And then the day came to a close – much too soon, despite it being around five hours by that point, but that is always the case when you have fun. We managed a group photo, although some people did have to leave before this was even taken, and everyone slowly dispersed to catch buses and trains, to return to their hotel rooms, or to find some second venue to continue on with the good vibes (I ended up with a group of super lovely people at a shopping centre’s food court where I proceeded to gobble up a Five Guys burger – and get my outfit complimented by an employee there).

I know that I already said this at the beginning, but it bears repeating: Fàilte Bhlàth put on a fantastic tea party. It had everything that I seek out from events like this: community spirit, care and attention to details and extras, a reliable venue providing good food and drinks, and the perfect balance between the scheduled parts and the free time to roam and socialise. As usual, I returned with my Instagram full of new people to follow and my heart filled with joy. I am definitely going to make effort to attend more Fàilte Bhlàth events in the future and would strongly advise to anyone considering it to do so. As an organisation dedicated to putting on lolita fashion events in Scotland, they are already doing so much to bring the community together and it is clear that with this amount of love received in response they will only continue to grow. The tea party may have been called Be My Valentine, but I think it’s fair (if very cheesy) to say that Fàilte Bhlàth is our Valentine. And before you completely x out of this blog for such a dad joke, if you want to see what all of this looked like, I am linking the vlog below for your viewing pleasure.

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