Did you miss us in the Guardian last week?

Fear not! You can read the article online here
Patrick Barkham – Local bloggers: voices from the global village (Guardian G2, Tuesday 20 March)

Also, did we mention we’re making a film of We Are Cardiff? We’re crowdfunding it, so we need YOU to donate some pennies! Visit our Indiegogo campaign where you can invest in the film in exchange for great rewards like getting your name in the credits, posters and free t-shirts
We Are Cardiff documentary film fundraising page

Also, why not join our We Are Cardiff page on Facebook

or follow @WeAreCardiff on Twitter

And of course we’re still looking for residents of Cardiff to feature on this blog! So if you’re interested, ping us an email at wearecardiff@gmail.com


“It’s unusual to perform burlesque in a Masonic Hall, but it works for us” – Cherrie


During my decade in Cardiff, I’ve gained a degree, worked in the music industry, been backstage at some of the greatest festivals in the UK, made some amazing friends, been to some of the best gigs of my life, and transformed myself into a burlesque artiste amongst many other things.

All of these things happened to me because I moved to Cardiff.

There are so many talented people here, from Santa Macabre – who makes jewellery that just blows my mind – to Ewan Jones-Morris and Casey Raymond who create fantastical music videos, the people who make Chapter Arts Centre so amazing, Swn festival, and Caroline Duffy – a beautiful graphic designer (a physical beauty and beautiful work!) to name but a few!

I have battled with depression for the past few years, and one day a friend handed me a flyer advertising burlesque classes, with the intention of going for a bit of a laugh. I was nervous, but agreed to try it out. We were introduced to Miss FooFoo La Belle and took our first, somewhat wobbly, high-heeled steps into the world of burlesque.

And what a world it is! That was four years ago, and since then I have become a chorus girl of FooFoo’s ‘Burlesque Cardiff’ troupe. After venturing into a duet or two, I slowly gained the confidence to become a solo performer in my own right, and so Cherrie Pips was born!

In the beginning of my burlesque life, fellow Cardiff performer Violet Noir was a huge influence on me. She really inspired me to make the leap and become a solo performer. I was captivated by her style and grace, and her music choices showed me I could be bold and unusual with my performance.

Burlesque Cardiff’s first outing was with 25 of us crammed onto the tiny stage at Ten Feet Tall, but we’ve come a long way since then. Our current home is at the majestic Guilford Hall, just around the corner from Gwdihw. It’s unusual to perform burlesque in a Masonic Hall, but it works for us! FooFoo LaBelle has put together some incredible shows for us, including a tribute to Hollywood, some memorable characters such as Beetlejuice and Tony Montana, and even some Mexican all-female wrestling thrown into the mix. She sets a new theme for each show, choreographing group routines, as well as performing her exceptional solos. We also have the gorgeous pole dancing doubles with Sminxie and Cariad Cwtch, to add an extra bit of tease to our shows.

Some of the starlets currently performing with Burlesque Cardiff are: Miss FooFoo LaBelle, Poppy Vanguard, Sandy Sure, Miss Betty Blue Eyes, Evie Wonder, Katie Von Cupcake, Sunshine Sparkle, GiGi Sextone, Scarlet Blush, Molly Toff Cocktail, Sassafras Sundae and Luna C Fur. Each performer has a unique style and our fans are equally fabulous! I love being a part of Burlesque Cardiff, because no two of us are the same. We are of all shapes, sizes, ages and abilities. Our troupe does not conform to consist of only skinny young girls – we are all different and that’s what’s so great about being a Burlesque Cardiff girl. We’re like a family, we support and love one another, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Cherrie Pips hails from Kidderminster, and moved to Cardiff to study for a Fine Art degree. She loves photography and collecting photographic paraphenalia. She teaches photography classes during each term at Celtic Learners Network, an adult learning initiative set up in 2010. She currently lives in Canton.

Cherrie was photographed in the bar upstairs in Ten Feet Tall by Ffion Matthews




we are cardiff – in the guardian!


we couldn’t be happier today – our lovely little project is featured in the guardian! and well done to photographer simon ayre, whose lovely picture of zoe howerska adorns the cover of g2.

what are you waiting for? go buy a copy! now!!

“floorboards creak out a secret or two” – Ivy




worms drill, silent in the wood
floorboards creak out a secret or two

this bench needs another polish
a neighbour exchanges a pointed word
to the woman next to her
who smoothes her old wool skirt and nods

at the couple glimpsed in the lower floor—
the wife goes through the little door
her husband holds open for her
her new hat trembles as she sits
he slips the latch closed behind them

when the priest speaks, the shuffles hush
everyone’s here for the word of God
he rests his Bible on a cushion
it’s still all true, last year’s sermon

out the windows, houses climb the hill
rooves of soot, limned with sunset

Ivy Alvarez is the author of Mortal (Red Morning Press, 2006), her first book of poems. While finishing her second book, she wrote poems at St Fagans National History Museum, which will be included in her third book (thanks to a bursary from Academi). She arrived in Cardiff in 2004 and, after jumping the appropriate hoops, swore allegiance to the Queen a second time and became a British citizen in 2010. She lives in Canton.

Ivy was photographed at St Fagans by Robert Bell



“Cardiff’s nightlife might be a haphazard affair…” – Adam


Arriving in Cardiff fresh and slightly chubby-faced in late September 2001, I couldn’t have predicted I’d still be here, more than 10 years later. Through a combination of Cardiff’s unique charms and my heroic lack of geographical ambition, I lived in such far-flung nether-regions as Cathays, Roath, Canton … and Roath.

Like a lot of people, my first three years in Cardiff were spent slowly – oh so painfully slowly – refining my interests from ‘drinking heavily in terrible bars during the week’ to ‘drinking heavily in more interesting bars at the weekend’. But one of the ways that I can track my time in Cardiff is through the music venues and events that have come and gone while I’ve lived in the city.

I arrived in Cardiff at the tail end of Cool Cymru – when the Manic Street Preachers (post-Richie) and the Super Furry Animals were some of the biggest indie names around. The Millennium Stadium had just been built, Tiger Bay had been refurbished within an inch of its life, and Charlotte Church was still young enough to have not realised opera was for losers.

Coming from a small-ish town in the South West (Yeovil), the prospect of live music most nights of the week was something to get excited about, and the Barfly (now replaced by the weirdly named Bogiez) more than provided. Tiny gigs by bands who would later go on to much greater things – The Libertines, The Futureheads, and, err … Grand Drive – stick in my mind.

The Toucan – a Cardiff institution with a habit of closing and re-opening down the road several times a year – was on St Mary’s Street when I first started to frequent it, providing a reason to venture into Hell’s Hen Party. Even with its weird giant pillars blocking views of the stage from almost all positions other than right-down-the-front, some formative musical moments occurred in that place. All the big names of the (then) burgeoning UK hip hop passed through – Jehst, Braintax, Mystro, Rodney P … and when the Toucan moved to Splott (and then eventually back into town before closing for good) it was never quite the same.

Down in the Bay, initial enthusiasm about its face-lift had faded to a general acceptance that studio flats, executive hotel rooms and ‘world’ cuisine were probably not going to be producing the sort of cutting-edge culture that Cardiff was craving. The Point – a beautiful renovated church –  was hosting some incredible gigs for a few short years (Four Tet, Cinematic Orchestra and Deerhoof stand out). And the Coal Exchange was always there for bigger bands – with a set by Mogwai remaining the loudest thing I’ve ever heard. But both these venues went the way of the Dodo, occasionally re-opening in name, if not in spirit.

The closure of key musical venues in Cardiff is a constant throughout during the decade I’ve lived here. Its always sad to see the passion of promoters dashed on the rocks of reality – but unfortunately, although Cardiff has some great musical culture, it doesn’t have the strength in numbers to support much in the way of an ‘alternative’ scene. We can basically only handle one or two successful venues at a time – and the only place that has ridden this bumpy road successfully for the entire time I’ve been here is Clwb Ifor Bach.

My first forays into Clwb were for Friday night mind-manglers – with Hustler running tings on a decidedly student-ey hip hop tip. I saw my first ever dubstep set in Clwb – way back when Digital Mystikz were just emerging out of Plastic People in London, and long, long before dubstep was providing the soundtrack for everything from shit mobile phone adverts to shit mobile internet adverts.

The family of venues that began with Moloko (home of the much-loved drum’n’bass Thursday nighter that launched High Contrast’s career) and now includes Buffalo and 10ft Tall has proven another resilient strain of Cardiff’s nightlife. Buffalo is still the closest thing Cardiff has to a trendy East London hangout, and although Cardiff Arts Institute looked like a strong contender for that crown for a few happy years, it too became a victim of the Cardiff curse: shitloads of interest and enthusiasm, but not enough punters through the doors.

That pretty much brings us up to date, and I’m about to hotfoot it over the bridge to Bristol after nearly 11 years in Cardiff’s familiar folds. Bristol’s a bigger city – it doesn’t suffer from the Cardiff curse. But what are the odds of running into half a dozen people you know on a random night out in Bristol? Cardiff’s nightlife might be a slightly haphazard affair, but there’s something reassuring about seeing the same faces in the same places wherever you go.

Don’t be a stranger Caerdydd …

Adam Corner is a male human who lived in Cardiff until 2012. He loves music, food and fine wines (e.g. Buckfast). He does research on the psychology of communicating climate change at Cardiff University and writes about this kind of thing for the Guardian. Nose into his life on twitter @AJCorner.

Adam was photographed at Catapult Records in the Duke Street Arcade by Doug Nicholls



“If you can’t beat them…” – Lola


My name is Lola and I have a problem. In fact my name isn’t even Lola, it’s Laura, and that’s testament to my problem. By which I mean addiction. By which I mean love.

In 2005 I moved to Cardiff from Swansea; a quiet, scrawny (not naturally) blonde girl who kept her head down in Uni and went back to Swansea every weekend to go back to the familiar; the comfortable. Seven years later I’m a confident, outgoing (not loud) person who has grown to love my abnormally-large-for-such-a-slim-girl thighs. And why the change in confidence and self-esteem? Roller derby, that’s why! (Oh, and living in Splott, where sometimes you have to be brave).

In early 2010 I was talked/cajoled/bullied into trying roller derby by a friend after watching Whip It. Now, I don’t know if you’ve seen Whip It, but it depicts roller derby as a sport played by scantily-clad girls who punch each other in the face and stab each other in the back. So no, I wasn’t overly enthralled by the idea of joining a new Cardiff league – the Tiger Bay Brawlers – to give it a try. But because then I was easily led and scared that I’d lose friends if I didn’t do as I was told, I tagged along.

I’m so glad that my weak-willed personality allowed me to go. I now find it laughable that I believed the Hollywood version – stupid, huh? (For the record, we’re all lovely, highly ambitious athletes with a huge dedication to furthering our sport. Yes, it’s full contact, but no; punching, kicking, biting are not allowed)!

Channel View leisure centre, Sunday 25 April 2010, was where I found roller derby (or where roller derby found me, because I feel like I’ve been waiting for something like this for a very long time). That first session was scary; not because I was walking into a room full of strangers (yes, over 50 of them!) but because suddenly, at the age of 23, I was strapping eight wheels to my feet and throwing myself on the floor and now, further down the line, at other skaters.

Almost two years later I have passed my obligatory minimum skate-skills test, bouted as a member of the Tiger Bay Brawlers A Team a number of times and am an active member of the team management committee. I’ve also Co-captained the B Team and one of our intra-league teams, the Merchants of Menace (the other team is the Bruise Birds)!

Roller derby has had a positive influence on me in far more ways than you’d think ‘just a sport’ would. It’s a huge aspect of my life now. Any spare time I have (or had) is spent doing derby; skating, watching, writing press releases, blog posts, just talking about it. It’s not something I begrudge doing because I get so much out of it. Not only have I met some of my best friends, but I’ve also become a much more confident person; my self-esteem has increased and I have become an ambitious athlete, concerned about what I’m eating, what I’m doing, how much fitness I’m squeezing in and how far I can push myself.

The Tiger Bay Brawlers are the longest-established and (though I may be biased) most successful roller derby league in Wales. We formed in April 2010 and have gone from strength to strength, playing ten public bouts in our debut year (we won seven of those), being accepted as members of the UK Roller Derby Association (UKRDA) and securing features on S4C, The Guardian and BBC Sport Wales to name but a few. We’re currently hoping to secure their own training and bouting venue this year, and we’re on the lookout for empty warehouses and suitable units – if you know anywhere, let us know!

We’ve also implemented a rolling recruitment programme comprising of a recreational league and freshmeat sessions, as well as working with Sport Wales and Cardiff Council to start junior roller derby sessions! AND we’ve just kick-started our second year of bouting and are bringing roller derby home again when we bout the London Rockin’ Rollers Rising Stars in Talybont on Saturday 31 March 2012.

Roller derby is taking the UK sport scene by storm at the moment, and we intend to be part of that emergence. You can be part of it too! If you want to come and see us play, then please do. If you want to connect with us then you can on our website, Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook, and if you want to join us then don’t be scared. Strap on your skates and come to rec league. If that’s not your thing then join us in an off-skate capacity. It’s a really inclusive sport and there are numerous ways to get involved so don’t let anything put you off. I promise you won’t regret it.

Roller derby isn’t going anywhere soon, and neither are the Tiger Bay Brawlers. And you know what they say? If you can’t beat them….

Laura ‘Lola Coaster’ Joyce has been skating with the Tiger Bay Brawlers since April 2010. She is an active member of the league skating with both the A and B teams and, offskate, undertaking the league’s PR and Marketing. Lola plays as both a blocker and a jammer and is known for her pre-bout routine, including taking days off work and eating copious amounts of cherry tomatoes. She currently lives in Splott.

Lola was photographed at a Brawlers bout by Adam Chard