Festival Clin d'Oeil
On July 4-7, I went to Reims, France. There is a huge biannual Deaf international event. Can you guess what it is? It’s Clin d’Oeil. I went there for the first time and enjoyed it. I want to share with you what I have seen and learned at the festival.
When I first got there, I had to register. I received a wristband that was required for the entire festival. It included a gift bag that included the event schedule and other things. By the registration area, there is a theater where you can watch movies or performances. Adjacent to that is a media studio for filming. Just across the roadway is where the festival is. You can see a large red structure that says, “Clin d’Oeil.” It’s easy to spot.
When I entered, I saw many cool games. There is an inflatable area with large rotating bars that you have to duck under or jump over. It’s an intense game.
I saw a bull riding game where you have to balance yourself.
The person working there controlled the bull and you had to maintain your balance.
At another area I saw a ramp where you had to move a stick up a series of levels.
That was very challenging. I saw a game where you can surf. A worker controlled the board and you have to balance yourself.
I thought this was cool. Another game had holes where you had to throw a ball through.
There was a huge chess and checkers game with large pieces.
There is also foosball. That was cool. If you want to buy food or drinks, you can’t use cash or credit card. You’ll have to buy a cashless card. You deposit money in it and buy food and drinks. Deaf people worked at the food/drink booths. It was inspiring to see Deaf people just like me. There were many food booths and two different pizza food trucks.
It was a large, open space where people could mingle. There is a stage for DJ or musicians to perform with large screens. In the middle is the music.
There is a VIP section on a raised platform that is close to the stage. There is also a separate platform that is a dancing area.
There are various areas for subcultures and I saw a huge rainbow.
I went inside and mingled with people like me. What a huge event! Behind the festival there are many different booths with Deaf people selling merchandise.
It is a Deaf-centered event. I’ve never seen such large numbers of Deaf people at an event in my life until I went to the festival. I was amazed. I wondered who ran the event. It’s David de Keyzer. We had a chat, check this out!
C: Please introduce yourself.
D: Sure thing.
C: Tell us about your job and your role in this festival.
D: My name is David (sign name). I am from France – here in Reims. Reims is the city located close to Paris. Who am I? I am the founder of this festival called Clin D’oeil. I have been a director for 18 years in total. And…
C: What do you do in your job as a director?
D: Oh, I manage all programs and have all of the operations moving smoothly along with my team. We oversee every logistical facet of the festival. We also scout, recruit and meet with artists picking out their artworks for the festival. I like to bring creative and new ideas. What do attendees really want from the festival? I gather feedback from attendees and digest them myself to think how I can make an overall experience better every time they come to the festival. Making adjustments and improvements accordingly to their wants.
C: What does Clin D’oeil mean in English?
D: Clin D’oeil means W-I-N-K; wink in English. That is what Clin D’oeil translates in English.
C: How did you decide to start this biennial Deaf festival event? And why does it take place in Reims, France?
D: Yeah, looking back when I was 14 years old – I was involved in theatre arts and film. I have traveled and attended many international festivals growing up. I have been evaluating and absorbing the experiences not in a negative way, though. Particularly in 2002, this event called Deaf Way 2 in Washington DC; I had a realization that the festival was great. I noticed many Europeans would travel to the event. There must be enough interest but there is no similar festival here in Europe. When I got back home, I decided to take the initiative and founded Clin D’oeil. It is with the goal of making it an international event and more frequent than said every few years. And why is the festival located here in Reims? I live here and my office is here, too. I know my way around here and have a strong network. I know local politics and our government. It makes it easier to network and host festival here.
C: How many people have attended for this year?
D: Yes, I was expecting 20K attendees but we attracted 22K.
C: Impressive, you have two thousands more! Congratulations!
D: Thank you.
C: I saw we have a LGBT space over there. Was it recently added or we had that space in the first Clin D’oeil festival? If not in the beginning, then why adding the LGBT space?
D: Yeah, I call it ‘Rainbow’ not ‘LGBT’. It is a rainbow space.
C: Oh, okay.
D: Actually, there was no rainbow space at the 2013 Clin D’oeil festival. It was added, I think, in 2015. We provided a rainbow space as known as LGBT in collaboration with France’s association called LGBT. It is how it is signed in LSF. They provided us a flag and we created a space with their rainbow colors. See the colors behind me. So, it is important because it is to give them a space to gather, socialize and dance with each other. Because this festival is huge, we have different subculture spaces i.e. Rainbow, Champagne, Brazilian, Bar and others. It is for attendees to choose their preferences where they want to hang out.
C: Yeah, I agree that is important.
C: Is Clin D’oeil festival always held here in Reims, France? Any similar festivals in other locations?
D: The Clin D’oeil festival will always be hosted here in Reims; born in Reims and die in Reims. It is to stay here. However, I am currently planning for the second, similar but separate festival. It is not called Clin D’oeil; Oiol festival. Where? It will take place in the United States – Washington, DC. To be specific, it will be on Gallaudet University campus.
C: Awesome, I am looking forward to it.
D: July 2020 for the Oiol festival. I am partnered with Gallaudet University, talented performers plus others in planning for the festival next year. It is a separate festival from Clin D’oeil. The Clin D’oeil is a biennial event so is the Oiol festival and both events will happen consecutively. We will have at least one festival every year.
C: That is brilliant! That would keep Deaf people busy!
D: Oh, yeah. It would foster networking. I would describe every year festival like a linear without any blanks in between. That is the goal.
C: Thank you for letting me interview and chat with you. It was a pleasure getting to know you better.
D: Thank you and thanks for coming to this festival!
D: Bye, bye!
I want to thank de Keyzer for working so hard to start a Deaf festival like this. I enjoyed it immensely. I look forward to future events. I was also amazed to see a children’s camp. Adults who go to the festival can drop off their children and they can enjoy the camp at the same time as the event. That’s nice.
There are two areas where the festival could improve. The first is the restrooms. There was a very long line where people had to wait for long periods of time. Many went ahead and relieved themselves outside.
The second area is the booths. When I first got there, I didn’t notice any for the first day. After the second day and looking around, I found the area behind the festival. I was surprised at it -- it was very nice to go around the area.
Overall, the event was really wonderful.