“Six steps this way, eight over there, switch partners …” – Marc’s Cardiff story

Marc Thomas photographed for Project Cardiff

Yesterday. I just moved into my new flat in Cathays. It’s the first flat that I’ll ever share with my wife but we shan’t be living in it until the wedding is over because we’re Christians. That’s July 24th, 2010 (tomorrow). Nearly 3 years since I met her.

I guess those two things are the most important circumstances for our marriage. Christian and Cardiff. Had one of those not happened, we’d never have met.


“We’re going to be late, Marc,” she had said, “Have you got money?”

“Ei. Don’t worry. The later we get there, less chance we’ll have to pay,” I told her, “Shouldn’t have to pay to dance at a ceilidh anyhow.”

I turned Two Gallants off on my speakers, or possibly it was Bob Dylan, I don’t remember now. Plan had been to head on over to the Christian Union ceilidh that we had organised for Fresher’s Week in my second year of university and dance a bit, goof off and then go home. I was treasurer of Cardiff Uni Christian Union, which was basically a joke because I cannot add up. In fact, while clearing out my desk drawers, months after finishing in this position, I found £300 of CU money, which I had already explained away in the accounts.

Music over, lights out, door closed, lock done, we made our way from 26 Richards Street over to St. Marks out on North Road, by the Gabalfa Flyover. Never went before, never been since. Things had begun to jar with the old girlfriend, but now we were walking hand in hand to St. Marks, totally unaware of what would ensue or rather what wouldn’t follow.

We arrived and jumped in through the side door so that we didn’t have to pay – against my principles, paying to dance to folk music – and said, ‘hello’ to all of the faces we recognised. Hundreds of bright young faces filled the forward glance around the room. Dancing in time, seeming to be swaying eternally and jigging to the beat of a band of musicians vastly unexperienced. The caller called something furious. Six steps this way, eight over there, switch partners etc, etc. By day, he was a theology student.

The dance ended.

“You’ll need to get into pairs,” he screamed, “and once you’re in pairs, get into two sets of pairs.”

She gripped me tight. I let her. I was such an idiot back then. There was a girl with blackish hair falling down her forehead and her boy in the corner. The boy had a broken arm with a green cast on it. The girls hair was flicked to the side and I remember thinking to myself something derogatory about emos. He was a kid I’d said hello to previously as he was studying politics, as had I. We got together in a huddle and did the moves that the caller called.

The basket is infamous in ceilidh. The idea is, the guys put their hands around the girls waists and the girls hold on tight to the boys shoulders while all four in the basket swing around. Eventually, the girls go horizontal under the influence of the momentum or centrifugal force (if this exists in such dances).

We did so.

Swinging round, all four faces fixed upon the fulcrum of all three other faces, and sometimes, if fast enough, ones own face, the girls went levitating and something must have happened.

There was no lightning, neither of us saw a vision nor was there a hand brushed against another. We didn’t even realise that something had happened and went all our separate ways. The old girlfriend and I went to my house, the girl went to hers and the boy to his.


Four months later, I started going to a new church – Glenwood in Llanederyn. I recognised few people. A lot of stuff had happened since September: old girlfriend was gone and a memory. I had been surprised at how quickly she disappeared from memory. But that was the politics of ancient history, taught in the schoolroom of where I was at so that the children of the thence present, wouldn’t repeat the mistakes of their former fathers.

Hannah was there. Mousey emo girl from barn dance now looked a lot different in the light of new possibility. I didn’t remember her. She recalled me though.

Things got started from there. The rest isn’t history, it’s not even the present, it’s the future. I’m 22, in love, she’s 21 and an arts student at UWIC, and in love. We’re almost young but it’s taken us a long time to get so young… and mostly it happened in Cardiff.

Marc Thomas is a 22 year old student. He speaks 3.5 languages and studies Magazine Journalism in Cardiff University. He is the founding editor of Journal of Plastik, an online magazine which promotes creative culture in South Wales through in-depth articles and features. Check it out at http://journalofplastik.com. He can also lick his elbow. He currently lives in Cathays.


3 thoughts on ““Six steps this way, eight over there, switch partners …” – Marc’s Cardiff story”

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