Last year saw the very last edition of the 15-year-old bear event Bears on Ice which attracted each year since 2005 many hirsute gents from all over Iceland and beyond. 2020 however will be the birth year of its spiritual child, Reykjavík Bear. From September 3 to 6, Reykjavík Bear will carry on and build upon the heritage of its predecessor.
Andres Pelaez, one of the men behind Hump Day Social, is one of the volunteers who rallied to take over from Bears on Ice. He breaks down the new formula, bear culture, and much more.
Before we proceed can you explain right away to our least informed readers what a bear is in the LGBT+ community and describe the bear culture?
“Bears are often larger hairier queer men who tend to project rugged masculinity,” says Andres. “The bear concept can function as an identity or an affiliation, that is why the concept of a „bear“ is constantly evolving. Some bears place importance on presenting a clear masculine image, while others consider acceptance and inclusiveness to be an important value of the community. That is why within the bear culture there are a wide variety of body builds. People may have heard of the terms Otter (Slim hairy man), Cub (young bear), Polar bears (Older white or grey haired men) or Chasers (men who are attracted to bears but do not identify as part of the culture).
“When we knew the founders were not going to continue we all agreed we would not let the event skip a beat.”
In Iceland the community is characterized by an embracing nature and friendly approach. It is a very small community but we are very welcoming to new guys and love having visitors from abroad.”
Can you tell us why the founders of Bears on Ice decided to pass on the torch after 15 years?
“Of course we can’t speak on their behalf but Bears on Ice ran for 15 successful years and it was their wish at this time to pass on the torch and have the spirit of the event live on and evolve with the community.”
What inspired you guys to take over?
“All of us who are involved in Reykjavik Bear have worked as volunteers during Bears on Ice on multiple occasions before and we all felt a deep connection to the event. When we knew the founders were not going to continue we all agreed we would not let the event skip a beat.
The Reykjavik Bear team is formed by volunteers from previous years who all participated in different tasks like preparing the venues, welcoming guests and making sure everyone was enjoying themselves.”
Bears on Ice became Reykjavík Bear: why did you rebrand the event?
“We considered it was important to give the event a fresh start while keeping the essence and the spirit of its origin. The rebranding to Reykjavík Bear reflects our community and our welcoming spirit as well as our unique geographic location, both of which we hope are attractive to visitors and locals alike.”
What will be different with the new formula and which part of Bears on Ice’s heritage will you carry on?
“This year Reykjavík Bear will keep the core structure of previous years including the relaxing visit to the Blue Lagoon and a private tour to the Golden Circle, but we are excited to introduce new travel options, new venues, new artists and DJs and as always, a lot of fun.”
Will Reykjavik Bear remain non-profit?
“Absolutely. As an initial step we are happy to have established, for the very first time, a bear association called Bangsafélagið. Reykjavík bear will continue to be run solely on volunteer work and we hope to continue the tradition of supporting our local community whenever possible.”
“We considered it was important to give the event a fresh start while keeping the essence and the spirit of its origin.”
What are the highlights of this year’s program?
“A private tour to the Golden Circle, a relaxing trip to the Blue Lagoon and three amazing parties to bring our local and international communities together.”
What do you hope to achieve with Reykjavik Bear?
“We hope to enrich our local queer scene, ignite participation from locals, to give visibility to the bear community and share our country and our culture with those who will be visiting from abroad.”
For more info check out reykjavikbear.com