We had to find the specific context that would position the event, as we imagined it, in the right political and public context so that it could contribute to the fight against AIDS. Organising an event at a specific time generates momentum. When an event expresses what is of concern to many people in a context that makes sense, people want to participate in it and thus be able to express their own feelings and opinions. Words that are uttered in such circumstances carry more weight. New alliances and collaborations that will last long after the event is over, are more easily established because people have met each other in a moment that made a difference. Being the initiator and producer of many events in which 'change' was on the agenda resulted in sometimes having to wait several months before an idea could be realised, and sometimes this never happened.note 167
While we were still prevaricating, we learned that Act Up Amsterdam had been founded, because Eric and Andre approached Paradiso to host The Fourth International Conference for people with HIV and AIDS, which was supposed to take place in May 1990. Both the Ministry of Health, Culture and Education and the HIV Vereniging thought that Paradiso was too much of an alternative location and would scare people away. In the end the financial support for this conference was not sufficient and the organization decided to hold it in Madrid. But our conversation with Eric and Andre had started.
We also learned about the boycott of the VI International Conference on AIDS. This gave us the historical moment in time we needed to be able to decide to undertake the project. The context of the boycott and the context of ACT UP Amsterdam, which needed support, would make the effort much more worthwhile. Early in March 1990 we decided to use Paradiso's reputation to get the network of organizations and people gathered around us, acquire the funding, and make a shadow Conference to the VI International Conference on AIDS. We also decided to change the working title Zero-Positive Ball into the Seropositive Ball.note 168
The time between formulating an idea and deciding to go and do it is a very important one. The nature of conversations, and the actions they trigger, change. In the beginning one is exploring possibilities, afterwards one is committed to making it work. In the beginning there is lots of time, afterwards deadline after deadline has to be met. The nature of conversation changes because conversations now take place in the context of a production that is going on. Every idea bears a financial price tag or an effort someone has to make. Once one starts producing one has to make commitments to people, businesses and organizations that also have financial consequences.note 169 The shift from being in the concept development phase to being in the production phase, is marked. During production the concept continues to be developed, but the way that contributions by people are judged is changed once in the production phase. This particularly causes regular tensions in teams with lots of volunteers and activists.
Since we were now going to hold the Ball much earlier, we decided that the 0+Network would be a demo for a yet-to-be developed HIVnet. The 0+Network would facilitate connections between the events in San Francisco and in Paradiso as well as permitting people who were too ill to attend to connect with Paradiso, San Francisco and other places that were linked via the INTERDOC network. We wanted the Seropositive Ball to be present at the VI International Conference on AIDS as well, so we could get the latest medical reports as soon as possible, and maybe even be able to ask questions. For the workshops and the debates to be successful in Paradiso, as well as for our coverage of the formal conference, we needed to open up the networks of people in organizations and of people around us as fast and as efficiently as possible.