Despite being born in England, I’ve always considered myself an honorary Welsh girl. I moved to Cardiff when I was four years old, so have very much grown-up feeling Welsh and I even started to learn the language again a few years ago. I grew up in Rhiwbina and have a lot of weird and wonderful memories from there as a child, going to Parc-y-Pentre on my roller boots (or ‘Parka P’ as we used to call it), and up the Wenallt for bonfires, as well things like Rhiwbina Junior’s old headmistress Mrs Harry’s leather trousers, stiletto shoe and Diet Coke obsession!
I left Cardiff for Staffordshire Uni to study the media, and then returned with a newfound love for the city in 2002. Since then I’ve lived in many of the boroughs that surround the centre; namely Roath, Splott and Grangetown. I love Roath and Splott. The local shops, pubs and eateries are excellent. Albany Road and Clifton Street have some great independent shops; as a DJ, D’Vinyl and The Record Shop have a plethora of gems waiting for you to hunt them down, plus there are the charity shops too!
Right in between Splott and Roath are the lanes that run behind the Blue Dragon Hotel on Newport Road. There’s a constant supply of amazing art here, much of it done by close friends representing the Cruel Vapours crew. I used to sit and watch in the sun when I lived on Elm Street – the most colourful street in Cardiff.
I now live right in the thick of it, on High Street. Despite being in the middle of a busy town centre, I love living here. The location is ideal – just a 10 minute walk to the Radio Cardiff studio where I present a weekly music show and a stone’s throw from a number of quality haunts.
One of my favourite places in town has to be the indoor market. Being able to buy fresh produce without going to the supermarket is a blessing, and you can always guarantee great banter from the people that work there! There’s also the weekend farmers market and Wally’s Delicatessen offering amazing treats when you’re feeling a bit more flush. Catapult Records, in the Castle Arcade is an essential shop for any DJ and to have the oldest record shop in the world, Spillers, definitely makes me feel proud as a vinyl lover!
DJing drum and bass and also funk and soul in Cardiff for a number of years has meant I’ve been able to play in some great clubs and bars, some are still around, like Clwb Ifor Bach and Milgi’s, but some have been shut down. This is one of the things that is always disappointing to see, as a DJ and a punter. The Emporium still stands as my favourite club of all time and living opposite its empty building, I’m constantly reminded of the great times I had in there and how gutted we all were when it was shut down. The bouncy wooden dancefloor (which we all thought would give way at some point) will never disappear from my mind! The Toucan club, despite having a number of different venues, is somewhere I loved playing in and I’ve always wondered if it would ever find another place to open up again. I could mention many others… As a clubber, the old Natwest bank down the bay now known as The Vaults has to be the best venue around right now. Backroom gave it legendary status bringing some of the worlds best house and techno DJs to Cardiff with a real family-run atmosphere.
Whether a venue closes or the nights stop though, Cardiff always manages to brush the dirt off and keep putting on good nights for clubbers, bringing some of the best DJs from all over the world to this tiny capital city. It’s also so refreshing to see how many talented DJs, producers and promoters we have. We’re literally bursting at the seams with talent and this is something I heavily try to promote through my show on Radio Cardiff (which is a community station, so, it’s all about giving something back).
For me, Cardiff does quite well in catering for all musical preferences so you really can’t complain. Similarly, if you love food and cooking, you can enjoy any kind of food here. Too skint to eat out? Grab some dragon sausages from the market and have a BBQ over the Castle grounds! That really is a feast fit for any Cardiff carnivore!
Lubi J is 31 and has been DJing for nearly 12 years. She presents a weekly music show called ‘System Check’, on Radio Cardiff, Tuesdays from 9-10pm (www.radiocardiff.org) with local DJs and producers regularly live in the studio and can sometimes be found playing drum and bass or funk and soul in some of the bars and clubs of Cardiff. She has a passion for cooking which is shared in her food blog, ‘This week I have been mostly cooking’ (http://thisweekbeenmostlycooking.tumblr.com/) and she also has a fine collection of trainers and hats.
Lubi J was photographed in Roath by Doug Nicholls.
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