Adventures In Crossdressing Samantha Attends The Keystone Conference Harrisburg PA

So it has been quite some time that I have had the opportunity to write up a guest blog post for my friend A's It makes me so happy and is always a pleasure to be asked by her to share my experiences with all of you who will read this. Something as big as "The Keystone Conference" should not be kept under wraps and hopefully my spin on it and my own experience there will encourage others to look into attending in 2017. 
Just to give as brief a rundown as I can about the Conference itself, this year was held from March 9th thru the 13th at the Harrisburg Hershey Sheraton in Harrisburg Pa. It is in fact a celebration of gender diversity for the transgender and crossdressing communities. This annual event that has become "The Premier" Conference in the country. This year I would say with confidence was the biggest ever with upwards of 700 plus in attendance at any point over the 5 days and 4 nights. Many came from all over the United States and there were also those that came from Canada, Great Britain, and South Africa. I am sure there were other countries that were represented among the attendees!
You can go to the website to really look in detail of how monumental and well organized this event has become over the last 7 years 
I will say that aside from being able to meet old friends, new ones, socializing, and getting out and about in a safe friendly atmosphere, there is so much to do at the hotel itself you might not want to leave the premises. There are workshops, presentations, and activities planned and scheduled that will keep anyone happy and involved during your time there. The days are filled with workshops in the mornings and afternoons with luncheons set up in between with guest speakers presenting at them if you might choose to do so. There is a vendor room set up off the main lobby that you can find anything you may want or need as far as accessories, cosmetics, clothing, breastforms and wigs......right up to medical professional consultations for your psychiatric well being, HRT, surgeries, or topical and aesthetic needs. There is even a local nail salon that closes their shop to set up shop in the hotel to provide services for the attendees. There is a professional photographer that offers appointments for photo shoots and portraits, and quite a few makeup artist available for makeovers to help you look and feel your best. 
The Dog and Pony Lounge in the hotel offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There is live entertainment in the evenings, and also buses available to and from the hotel to go to the restaurants, clubs, or shopping in the area. You can even get out to the Hollywood Hotel and Casino overlooking the Penn National Racetrack for an evening of dining, gambling, or entertainment.
The culmination of the event is the Gala Ball on Saturday evening with a formal dinner, a keynote speaker, (this year was Sarah McBride) and a live music performance by the band Wicked Jezebel, which by the way is comprised of all transgender musicians. These ladies really know how to get you up on the floor with their very upbeat mix of dance, classic rock, popular, and funk music. Everything they cover is music that can be enjoyed by everyone!
Now that you all have an overview of everything that is "The Keystone Conference" I will take some time to share and embellish on my own experiences.
I have to start off by stating that this was the most magnificent blur from beginning to end. I can't describe it in any more precise or simpler terms. Once I hit the ground running it was as if time slowed down enough to soak up every drop of vivid that my experience was only to switch things into fast forward and the impending reality.....crossdress it was over before I knew it!
It was Wednesday evening, I was packed and my car was loaded up with everything but the kitchen sink! I probably had more stuff than my wife would have packed to go away for better than a week. I hugged and kissed my wife before I left with a cooler in my hands that she had packed full of things I could have for breakfast each morning and snacks and such that I could enjoy after returning to my room in the evenings. After a quick stop at the bank and picking up some beer and a bottle of vodka I was off on my 2 1/2 hour drive to Keystone. I knew I would be arriving in the area of 9:30 sissy guy mode, with the only intentions of checking in, getting into my room, unpacking, and having an uneventful evening preparing for an early start on Thursday morning. 
Once I arrived I did get into my room with the help of two of my Vanity Club Sisters, my big Sis Sophie and Julie who was in guy mode like myself. The blur did ensue in a way immediately. I had company as I unpacked in a somewhat hurried and urgent manner while we chatted and caught up. The first two drinks of the evening were also under my belt during that about multitasking! 
I had no plans of getting made up and dressed and I decided to keep my female persona under wraps until first light in the morning, at least on a visual aspect.
There I was, Samantha, in guy mode with the majority of everyone I already knew.........not knowing ME! It was a fun first to say the least and surprisingly after making my rounds and playing the "guess who I am" game with transgender people.......All said and done, it didn't matter to me or anyone else! We all had a great time until I made my way to my room after 3 am. So much for an early start on Thursday morning!
I woke up Thursday morning without the prompting of the alarm clock......I figured out I didn't set it correctly and was feeling pressed for time since it was already past 10:30. After throwing my breakfast together I started my transformation. I knew that this day was going to take the longest because I did have to take care of losing my facial hair! I took my time and convinced myself that the only schedule I had to concern myself with was the 4 photo shoots I had booked with Cassandra Storm Photography 4:50 on ThursdayFriday, and Saturday, and a 9:30 pm Gala shoot on Saturday evening. I managed to get my makeup on, dressed, and out of my room shortly after 2 pm. I made my way to pick up my conference package from the lobby and then back to see Cassandra to pay for my bookings and confirm my times.
By the time I made my way through the vendors area, chatted with a bunch of girlfriends, and had my first visit to the lounge for a drink, it was already time for me to return to my room to change into my dress that I was wearing to my 1st photo shoot. A short time later I was on my way, my first set of pictures were finished and I stopped in the lounge to meet up with everyone that was there and have another drink. With time flying the blur was in full effect and all of those leaving the hotel were meeting in the lobby to get on the bus to go to the crossdressing Casino. I was just about ready to make my last change of the evening and went to my room, put on some music, made myself a much needed Vodka, Redbull, and Cranberry and took my time getting changed before going back to the lounge for an evening of Karaoke. 
I was one among all of those who decide to exercise their vocal chords. During the course of the night, I had some strategically spaced drinks and chatted with and caught up with so many friends.......old and new. I tried my best to portray my rock chick image and sang, "Arms Wide Open" by Creed, "Zip Lock" by Lit, and "Iris" by The Goo Goo Dolls. It was such a fun night and there were quite a few ladies that could really belt out a tune. Sadly the time came that the lounge announced last call and the scurry to figure out where the after parties were happening became the urgency of the moment. My urgency was getting back to my room to give my feet a break. I needed to slip on a pair of flats before venturing back out to get to one of the after parties before calling it a crossdressing night. Another night ended after 3 am and I quickly undid myself and slipped into bed with hopes of an early starton Friday.
Friday morning started with the successfully set alarm clock.......and an hour of snooze slapping. Another 10:30 start was the result and after showering, pre makeup ritual, and the rest of my transformation it wasn't until after 2 pm that I made it to the lobby to meet up with some friends to do a little shopping. My friend Lisa was running a little later than she expected. I took the time to get my car and unload the back seat. It was full of boxes of shoes and clothes that my wife and I had amassed over the last few years. My wife suggested and offered that I bring them, hopefully find some of my friends that might be able to make use of them.
I got them to my room and Lisa and I changed our plans to go shopping on Saturday.  It all worked out well, I was still able to go to the strip mall that was right behind the hotel with my girlfriend and VC Sister Annie. Off we went and stopped into JC Penny, Famous Footwear, Payless, and Target. I was unsuccessful finding a pair of flats but I was quite successful not putting a dent in my wife's JC Penny card that she let me take on my trip. Sometimes it does feel good coming back from shopping empty handed. Lol!
Getting back to the hotel we ran into my friend Margot from Chicago, I knew time was slipping by fast and in a short while I would have my 4:50 photo shoot. I invited Annie and Margot down to my room for an afternoon drink and a bit of chat. It all worked out well, we did enjoy some great conversation, had our first primer of the evening, and Margot did find a few pairs of shoes among the pairs she tried on. After they left I quickly changed into the dress I was wearing for the photo shoot and the evening to follow. I touched up and built on my day look makeup, and then I was off to see the photographer. Afterwards 
I made my way to the lounge for a quick drink and some chat, and then down to my room to freshen up before returning to the lobby for the highlight of the evening.
I went back to the lobby to meet up with EVERYONE that was waiting for the buses that were dropping off at the restaurants in downtown Harrisburg, I was also meeting up with 45 of my  Vanity Club Sisters. We were headed to the Susquehanna Harvest Seasonal Grill for our sorority dinner. Last year's Keystone Conference I was invited as a guest, as a result was nominated later on in 2015 by my crossdress Big Sister Sophie Lynne, and I was elected in the August 2015 elections. I was extremely excited because this was the dinner I was being officially pinned in by my Big Sister Sophie Lynne. Sophie actually was able to pin her roomier and VC Sister Linda Lewis who in the past had never been pinned at any prior VC Event. 
It was an incredible evening of wonderful conversation, a beautiful tribute and memorial to members who have passed on, a fantastic dinner, and the pinning ceremony. At the end of the dinner we all got together in the main restaurant for a group photo before departing the restaurant to get back on the bus to return to the hotel. Back at the hotel the evening proceeded as the evenings before. I made my way to the lounge to join in the crossdressing  festivities there while others went to the banquet hall to dance to a DJ who was a new addition to this year's lineup of entertainment. Many that would have usually went to one of the clubs in downtown Harrisburg did not do so because of the DJ being on the premises. As the rest of the evening wound down, around closing time I ran into my friend Sandy. We spent some time catching up and I passed on any of the after parties that were an option after the lounge closed. I still didn't manage to get back to my room until after 3 am. This seemed to be the norm in spite of an anticipated early start on Saturday.
Up and around on Saturday began with the same ritual as every other morning. After getting myself together I did manage to get up to the lobby to meet my friend Lisa for a little shopping by about 1:45, we were on our way to a place called Gabe's shortly after. Gabe's was a huge designer discount store with a lot of name brands and major department store closeouts. We spent a while searching through the transgender racks and I was almost tempted to just grab something because the prices were so reasonably cheap. If there was anything that jumped out at me I would have made my only purchase.........with great restraint I left empty handed. I was not at all disappointed keeping the cash in my purse. Lisa and I went our separate ways around 3 pm. I was on my way back to the the hotel with intentions of not being in a mad rush to get to my photo shoot at4:50 and Lisa was on her way to Sephora for a makeover in preparation for the Gala Ball.
I arrived back at the hotel and did push my time limits by stopping in the lounge for the impossible quick drink. Yeah, I know that wasn't possible but needless to say I was back in my mad rush mode as a result.  When I did get back to my room I changed and primped up my makeup and hair before rushing back out sissy and up to see the photographer. After the shoot I wound up back in the lobby where everyone was already starting to gather prior to the Ball. I was smack in the middle of photos being taken, chatting with everyone, and the air of excitement. 
The preculmination of the weekend was soon to happen and I was feeling pressed by the urge to get back to my room for my last change of the weekend. I walked into my room, out of the dress I was wearing, into my chair in front of the makeup mirror for my final touch up and setting spray. I wrestled and squirmed to get into my pretty blush pink dress that I of course waited till the last minute to buy before leaving for Keystone. I changed my jewelry, teased my hair a bit, and sprayed myself with perfume before putting on my sissy purple ankle strap pumps and I was out the door and on my way to the Keystone Gala Ball with almost precise timing. 
Arriving at the Ballroom just as the doors were opening and almost relieved that I would soon be seated I had to make one last rush back to my room since I forgot to take my Gala ticket with me........Uhhhh. Good think I can move swiftly in heels, I was quickly there and back with a bit of a dewy perspiration glistening on my face. I slipped into my seat at my table. I was seated with my Big Sister Sophie and 6 of my VC Sisters and after taking a few deep and relaxing breaths, I looked around the room and all I could do was smile. I was in awe with the sight of all the formal and beautifully dressed people gathered in a celebration of OUR diversity. We were all being crossdress ourselves, who we were born to be. It was massive to me, even more so than the year prior. 
The commencement speaker addressed us all and at the conclusion announced the Keynote speaker and introduced Sarah McBride. As the applause subsided Sarah started off her speech in jest stating that she was more than happy to be a second choice to present at Keystone since Caitlyn Jenner had to refuse the offer due to her very busy media and work schedule. It was a very fun and witty way to break the ice and begin her presentation. She was magnificent laying out her true life story, all she has overcome, her triumphs as an activist, and the tragic loss of her partner and spouse captivated EVERYONE with smiles, tears, and admiration. I don't think transgender there was anyone present that was not deeply moved by her presence, the motivation she possessed, or the inspiration that she provided everyone. After she finished speaking a standing ovation followed. The smiles and tears from everyone were an evident sign of the impact she had made in her work and the hope and happiness that she provided ALL that were present. 
Following Sarah was a few speakers who accredited all of the wonderful organizers, coordinators, and all those who made The Keystone Conference possible and in a much deserved manner ALL were applauded with another standing ovation. 
As quickly as we were all sitting back down dinner began being served and a short while afterward Wicked Jezebel came on and started their live music set. They are quite a group of transgender musicians who I believe have also become a staple at the Conference. They did play last year and I would imagine will be back again next year. They ROCKED to say the least, they sounded fantastic, had great stage presence, a fantastic song selection, and most importantly........They DID get people up and on the floor dancing!
At 9:30 I had to slip out for my Gala photo shoot across the hall from the ballroom, afterward I started to feel an urgency as if i needed to make up for lost time. The night was slipping and the realization that it was coming to an end was becoming all too vivid. The rest of the evening really was a blur between scurrying around to see people, photographs, and the eventual last stop of the evening at the lounge, I did make the most of our last evening at Keystone. The lounge closed at 2 am and I couldn't bring myself to let the evening end. I took myself and my aching feet back to my room, took off my heels, and slipped into my cozy comfy fuzzy slippers and made my way back up to the lobby to linger a little longer with those who were holding onto the last of the weekend just as I was. It was a well needed sigh and unwind time I needed crossdressing  before the long task ahead before I went to sleep. I already made up my mind that everything except for the bare minimums would be packed to avoid a rush in the morning to make checkout.
I made it to my room at 3 am, turned on some music, opened my last beer, poured my last vodka and cranberry, and began to become undone and meticulously pack as I did prior to my trip to Keystone. The last thing I did before turning in at 5:30 am was to take off my makeup and say "Goodnight Samantha" as I looked in the mirror. I turned down the lights and slipped into bed.
I awoke on Sunday just before 11, I showered, put on the same clothes I arrived in on Wednesday evening, and packed the rest of my toiletries. I was then off to bring all of my bags to my car and loaded them up. I went back to my room for the last time, took a quick look around to make sure I took everything, and I waited for a small handful of my girlfriends to come down to go through all of the old clothes and shoes I had brought to find a good home for. After everyone grabbed crossdress what they could make use of I helped load up what was left with my girlfriend Jill who took my donations to a local charity that my Meetup group works with. I would say it was a good way to wrap up the wonderful experience that Keystone was.
I checked out and had lunch in the lounge with 3 friends before I started my 2 1/2 hr drive home. It was a sad goodbye but looking ahead I am smiling thinking about getting back in March 2017. 
I hope you all enjoyed my experiences and if I haven't seen or met anyone that might have taken the time to read this......I hope at the least you will be inspired to attend next year! For more crossdressing / transgender events  , stories, and adventures CLICK HERE

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