We Are Cardiff DJs will be playing Mary Bijou’s Bad Romance Social! Sat 13 Feb – get your tickets now!

We are VERY excited to announce that the We Are Cardiff DJs will be hopping on the decks (possibly literally) at the fabulous Mary Bijou Cabaret’s Bad Romance Social!mary bijou bad romance social

Taking place on Saturday 13 Feb at NoFit State Circus’ new home, Four Elms (on Newport Road), celebrate car-crash love affairs, the St. Valentine’s apocalypse, turn-ons, turn-offs and turn-downs. Expect a twist on our usual cabaret in this debauched night of dj’s, fabulous characters, peepshow performances and dancing.

Do not expect your traditional Valentine’s ball.

Mary Bijou are fundraising for their new creation, coming to the WMC Halloween 2016.

For the full VIP treatment bring cash! There will be a cash bar to drink away your sorrows. A bulging pocket of pound coins will get you sweet nothings, and happy endings…..

All early bird tickets have SOLD OUT now, but there are still a few mid-tier price tickets left.

BUY BAD ROMANCE SOCIAL TICKETS NOW

mary bijou bad romance social - tightrope mary bijou bad romance social - vogueing

Don’t miss out – this will be a wonderful night with a crazy twist on your usual cabaret – plenty of performances, vogueing on the dance floor, and the We Are Cardiff DJs providing the ‘Get Bent: Anti-Wedding Disco’ as the finale!

This is The Lovely Phoenix. You’d trust her to pick the tunes for your night out, right?

the lovely helia phoenix dj

See you on the dance floor!

Mary Bijou Cabaret Bad Romance Social (13 Feb, Four Elms, Newport Road) Facebook event

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#cardiffwithoutculture – join the march to protest cuts to arts funding, Saturday 6 Feb

On Saturday, the #cardiffwithoutculture campaign will march against the council’s proposed cuts to the arts.

The march starts Saturday 6 February, 2pm at National Museum Wales.

cardiffwithoutculture

The theme for the march is a New Orleans style jazz funeral procession, and music students from Cardiff University have invited any musicians to join them in a scratch band rehearsal also on Sunday 31st January from midday-5pm.

Information from the organisers:

Arts and culture are facing a potential funding crisis and we would like to raise our voice.

Culture makes life worth living. And Cardiff a city worth living in. Cardiff Council want to cut £700,000 from the arts budget. Which threatens the future of culture in the city.

As Europe’s youngest capital city, Cardiff enjoys national arts organisations and institutions including two symphony orchestras, the National Museum, the Welsh National Opera, Wales Millennium Centre, National Theatre Wales, National Dance Company Wales, St David’s Hall; and high profile events such as Artes Mundi, Cardiff Singer of the World, and Cardiff Contemporary. Not to mention countless grassroots and community arts projects.

This kind of activity keeps the city alive, and demonstrates how much it values creativity. It provides rich ground for new ideas and innovation, grassroots engagement and renewal. This is what attracts both people and investment. Where would a city be without this?

Our burgeoning reputation for arts and culture, built over many years, impacts on education, social services, employment, community cohesion, criminal justice, tourism, refugee agencies, youth services, the third age, library services and more.

Culture is all around us from the moment we wake to the moment we sleep. If the next generation of designers, makers, musicians, artists, writers, actors, dancers are placed in an environment that does not encourage them, what kind of Cardiff will we live in? Wales prides itself on its cultural heritage. We need to ensure that our future heritage is as strong.

Join us on Saturday 6th outside the National Museum to call upon the Council to cancel arts cuts and to celebrate Cardiff WITH culture. Bring your banners, signs, instruments, energy.

We will end outside the Central Library.

Made in Roath protest workshops

Made in Roath will be holding pre-protest workshops at the g39 gallery in Roath, for people to get and help make banners, badges, placards and a ‘float’ on the following dates:
4pm – 9pm, Thursday 28 Jan
11am – 5pm, Sunday 31 Jan
g39, Oxford Street (just off City Road), Cardiff CF24 3DT

Materials will be provided, but any unwanted picture frames would be welcome, we’ll be using them to make protest plaques so donations of frames in any state, the bigger the better, would be wonderful.

Tea and biscuits will be provided, but if you plan to stay all day, please bring sandwiches etc. Despite the serious message, we hope this will be a fun day for all, so please forward this on to any contacts and share with anyone who cares about Cardiff’s cultural life, this is important for everyone.

Cardiff Without Culture march: Saturday 6 Feb, Facebook event

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British Street Food Awards 2015 – how did Cardiff score?

 

Writer Ellie Philpotts headed to the British Street Food Awards to see how Cardiff’s mobile fare would fare … and here’s the results. Pretty darned well!

British Street Food finals 2015

The street food industry has undergone leaps and bounds in recent years, and 2015 has been the one that has really made it into a culture. Here in Cardiff, we’ve been lucky enough to demonstrate the best of street food in action, playing host to the wonderful Street Food Circus all summer long.

But street food is definitely not confined to the ‘Diff. After the success of the Circus, celebrating the best of Welsh bites such as Patagonia, Pembrokeshire Beach Food, Purple Poppadom, and, proving good food doesn’t have to begin with P, Mr Croquewich and Hangfire Smoke House, it only made sense for me to go to London to witness the big event itself – the finals!

So in December I Megabused my way from one capital to another, having effectively starved myself all morning in preparation for all the foodie delights bound to come my way. OK, I did sneak a cheeky Costa at the services, but as soon as LDN rolled into sight, artisan coffees became all I could think about.

The grand finale was hosted in the grounds of the O2 Arena, and although Justin Bieber and Little Mix were performing there at that night’s Jingle Bell Ball, in my book the only notable names worth thinking about were the Brulee Van and Cheeky Indian. And they didn’t disappoint.

As any We Are Cardiff writer would be, I was eager to see how Patagonia, the only Welsh finalists, would fare, but as the ultimate winners weren’t announced til the evening, I figured touring (and sampling) all the street food would be a hard job, but someone had to do it.

First up was The Crabbie Shack. Based in Folkestone, Kent, you’ll also not be short of chances to catch them around London and the festival circuit. They gave me a Soft Shell Crab Burger featuring harissa, avocado and fennel, which revamped everything you’d expect from speedily rustled up seafood.

Another stand-out for me was Roadery. Their tagline is ‘head to tail British street food’, and it’s fair to say they’ve mastered it. Head honcho Dan Shearman’s youth spent in the great outdoors made him develop a great respect for nature. Nowadays, he even forages around Richmond Woods for fuel for his classic Renault van – and we’re not talking boring old petrol. Highlights on his menu include what I’d deem the ‘London Special’ – British halloumi on Brixton sourdough finished with the Earl Grey Panna Cotta, blending the best of English and Italian. However I went for the British Taco – 10-hour longhorn beef tongue with salsa, sour cream, wild blackberry hot sauce, pickles, mint yoghurt and flatbread.

Street food fans closer to home may remember The Bowler. Although the Meatballs on the Move van is Covent Garden-based, it was a popular fixture in Cardiff over summer, serving up specialised meatballs – Thai green curry; spinach, chickpea and ricotta balls; pork and beef in spiced tomato; shallots and cumin. And in typical December fashion, they’re even rocking the ‘Christmas Balls’ – Jingle, Sleigh and Snow. I bet Santa would welcome that when he’s had one too many mince pies.

Amid the maze of chorizo and hazelnut pizza; beef poutine; shredded lamb; Cornish smoked haddock; vegan sushi; calamari and hoisin duck, you may be wondering where the sugar’s at. Fear not – Crema Caravan was in business. Fluctuating between the British capitals – they’re from Edinburgh, you probably caught them in Cardiff, and this was in London – they’re the country’s first and only crème brulee van, consequently making us question how anyone functioned before them. I couldn’t decide between vanilla; cream catalina; salted caramel brownie; pear or butterscotch, until I did decide.. on pear.

Anyway. You probably want to know the results. Patagonia, described by head chef Jamie O’Leary as ‘strictly beef, all Welsh, all local, done with some Argentinian flair’, did well in becoming the only Welshies to make it to London, but missed out on an individual prize.

The official Best Street Food Snack in the UK was decided by actress and food writer Fay Ripley as seafood popcorn by Sea Dog, Devon-based foodies who’ll also happily provide you with mini crab wontons; fish pasties and ‘rainbow summer rolls.’

Next up was Best Vegetarian, judged by sandwich entrepreneur Neil Rankin, and ended up being mushroom risotto courtesy of Sub Cult, the London kings of ‘soul in your roll.’ They specialise in gourmet deli sandwiches, and clearly mushroom risotto as well.

Foodie king Neil also crowned Sub Cult as the recipients of the Best Sandwich prize, while Best Main went to BangWok. Dong, the man behind the business, has revolutionised Britain’s slant on Thai street food. They’re based in Leeds, but you can catch them travelling all over.

Best dessert obviously went to Crema Caravan, while Nelly’s Barn, described as ‘proper job West Country street food’, won the admirable accolade of ‘Best Looking Van.’ Angus and Mitchell, clearly masters of the crispy-fried pig tails and sous-vide steak situation, took the highly-acclaimed ‘People’s Choice’ back to Falmouth.

British Street Food finals 2015 British Street Food finals 2015 British Street Food finals 2015

Some may say the biggest award of the night was the ultimate Best Street Food in Britain – an honour granted to Sea Dog. But as We Are Cardiff is a Cardiff publication, in our eyes the hottest category of the weekend was Best Street Food Festival – which went to, you guessed it, Cardiff!

Of course, we’re probably a bit biased. But since Street Food Cardiff on Old Staple Yard gave a lot of Welsh vendors the chance to shine; made a lot of Cardiff foodies very happy; and really put the Diff on the street food map, we think it’s deserved.

Can’t wait for even more street food to hit our capital – once my food baby has subsided …

Ellie Philpotts

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Thanks Ellie! More from her and us, soon…

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Green Man 2016 is coming … tickets on sale!

Our favourite large scale south-Wales music and culture shindig is definitely Green Man festival, which takes place annually in the Brecon Beacons. Just an hour’s drive north of Cardiff, it’s a family friendly week of wonderful music, joyous abandon, delicious food, and gorgeous surroundings.

And this year’s festival tickets are on sale from 10am TODAY! Buy Green Man tickets

We’ve covered Green Man the last two years. Watch our videos from 2015:

We reviewed the festival in 2014 and profiled festival goers in 2014 (We Are Green Man 2014) and 2015 (We Are Green Man 2015).

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Green Man have also released a pretty tasty Green Man 2015 highlights film! Check it out …

Enjoy! And get your tickets from 10am, 26 January 2016! Buy Green Man tickets

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Happy St Dwynwen’s Day! Dydd Santes Dwynwen hapus i chi gyd

Today is the Welsh Valentine’s Day. So happy St Dwynwen’s Day – the patron saint of Welsh lovers!

She’s not recognised by the Vatican as an ‘official saint’ anymore, but like we care. The story of Dwynwen has dark interpretations, like most old school tales, but there’s a fairly upbeat one that’s told to school children, which is the one we’ll focus on: Dwynwen was the prettiest daughter of 24 born to the Welsh king Brychan Brycheiniog. She fell in love with a man named Maelon Dafodrill, but she was already in an arranged marriage situation, courtesy of her father.

Bummed out by the situation, Dwynwen prayed and asked for help to forget her main squeeze Maelon. An angel came to see her in her sleep and gave her a potion that would erase her memory of feelings for Maelon, and also turn him into a block of ice.

After her dreams came true (poor old Maelon, eh?), Dwynwen devoted her life to God. She set up a convent on the island of Llanddwyn off the coast of Anglesey (the remains of the church are still there, along with a well that is home to sacred fish that can – apparently – predict whether relationships will succeed or fail).

'Porth Twr Mawr' - Ynys Llanddwyn, Anglesey

(Photo: Llanddwyn, Anglesey)

God offered Dwynwen three wishes, so she wished for Maelon to be thawed, that God should meet the needs of all lovers, and that she should never marry.

I’m not quite sure about the third one – I feel like she should have married the face off Maelon and raised loads of tiny Celtic kids running around all over the north!

Anyway, that’s one version of the story that was told when I was at school (there are many other versions that include rape and various other gross things – you can check the  St Dwynwen Wikipedia page for a taste of those).

So happy Welsh Valentine’s today to all of you – happy St Dwynwen’s Day!

Feeling frisky and looking for some Valentine’s fun this year? How about the Mary Bijou Cabaret Bad Romance Social? It takes place on Saturday 13 February at Four Elms on Newport Road and the We Are Cardiff DJs will be spinning some tunes!

Bad Romance Social – buy tickets

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Photo: ‘Porth Twr Mawr’ – Ynys Llanddwyn, Anglesey by Kris Williams on Flickr

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Patterns of Cardiff, January 2016: a photo essay by Adam Chard

Designer / photographer / zombie lover Adam Chard is actually one of the co-founders of this site. Yes! Way back in 2010, on a quiet Friday afternoon, he and I hatched a plan to change Cardiff, the only way we knew how: BY THE POWER OF BLOGGING! Many of the wonderful portraits of Cardiffians that exist on this blog were taken by Adam.

These days, Adam can be found writing for the We Are Cardiff Press, doing artwork for Darkened Rooms, or hanging around Cardiff with his camera, taking pictures of everything. He took some dashed nice photos of the city (in between the rain) recently, so I took the opportunity to grab him for a quick Q&A too.

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Adam Chard profile pic

Hi! My name’s Adam Chard and I work as a freelance graphic designer and illustrator under the name Croatoan. You might also see me at Chapter Arts Centre in Canton where I work a few days a week as part of the marketing team.

 

I bought my first camera shortly after Helia and I set up the We are Cardiff blog in the summer of 2010. We were both working at the National Assembly for Wales at the time and we had an idea about getting people to write about their experiences in Cardiff and taking photos of them in locations that mattered to them – by the time I got home from work that day Helia had
already set up the blog, so I knew I had to get started.
I bought a starter-level Nikon SLR and went out on a couple of shoots with the excellent Simon Ayre before taking the plunge on solo missions – having assignments helped me get to know my camera really quickly.
I really love capturing a split-second, un-posed moment, whether that’s a Tiger Bay Brawler in mid-air at the roller derby or a band member jumping into the crowd during a gig at Clwb Ifor Bach. I also love to go on little missions armed with a specific fixed-length lens, seeing what I can shoot with that enforced restriction.
This set of photos is the result of a wander round Cardiff on a pretty grey Monday. I’d just watched and loved the trailer for Ben Wheatley’s film adaptation of JG Ballard’s High Rise, which is what inspired the retro-futuristic shots of the tops of buildings around town.

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I work as a designer and it’s really good to be able to offer photography in with any graphic design work that requires it, but I love it as a hobby. It’s a great way of expressing yourself and your interests. As with a lot of my design and illustration work, I like brightly-coloured, eye-popping things and lots of
angular or geometric patterns in my photography.
This photoset of the Zombie Walk in Toronto in 2012 is probably the perfect storm of all of my interests!
I have a website for my design work at croatoandesign.co.uk – I post my photos on Flickr (Adam Chard: Flickr) and you can find me on Twitter at @croatoandesign.
See a set of my favourite photos on Flickr here: Adam Chard favourite Flickr pics.
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Thanks Adam! And see you all soon …

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The Sunday Assembly is coming to Cardiff – and you can help organise it!

The Sunday Assembly is coming to Cardiff! In case you haven’t heard of it, the Sunday Assembly describes itself as a “secular congregation that celebrates life.” In other words, it’s just a bunch of people getting together for the sake of enjoying a sense of community and helping each other out. That’s nice, right?

The Cardiff chapter is looking for people interested in helping to organise it. Fancy that? The kick off meeting is on Sunday 7 February at 11.30am in Little Man Coffee.

sunday_assembly

What is the Sunday Assembly?

The Sunday Assembly was started by Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans, two comedians who were on the way to a gig in Bath when they discovered they both wanted to do something that was like church but totally secular and inclusive of all — no matter what they believed.

The Sunday Assembly Charter

  1. Is 100% celebration of life. We are born from nothing and go to nothing. Let’s enjoy it together.
  2. Has no doctrine. We have no set texts so we can make use of wisdom from all sources.
  3. Has no deity. We don’t do supernatural but we also won’t tell you you’re wrong if you do.
  4. Is radically inclusive. Everyone is welcome, regardless of their beliefs—this is a place of love that is open and accepting.
  5. Is free to attend, not-for-profit and volunteer run. We ask for donations to cover our costs and support our community work.
  6. Has a community mission. Through our Action Heroes (you!), we will be a force for good.
  7. Is independent. We do not accept sponsorship or promote outside businesses, organisations, or services.
  8. Is here to stay. With your involvement, The Sunday Assembly will make the world a better place.
  9. We won’t tell you how to live, but will try to help you do it as well as you can.
  10. And remember point 1 … The Sunday Assembly is a celebration of the one life we know we have.

The first ever Sunday Assembly meeting took place on January 6th 2013 at The Nave in Islington. Almost 200 people turned up at the first meeting, 300 at the second and soon people all over the world asked to start one.

Now there are 68 Sunday Assembly chapters in eight different countries where people sing songs, hear inspiring talks, and create community together.

Why does it exist? Life is short, it is brilliant, it is sometimes tough, we build communities that help everyone live life as fully as possible.

The only way to understand Sunday Assembly is to experience it for yourself. There will be singalong songs, moving stories, passionate speakers—all finished with tea and cake (or coffee and doughnuts!).

Just by taking part, you should be energised, vitalised, restored, repaired, refreshed, and recharged. No matter what the subject of the Assembly, it will solace worries, provoke kindness and inject a touch of transcendence into the everyday.

You can join a choir, sing in the band, attend and facilitate self-help groups, welcome those who are socially isolated, host potluck dinners, share hobbies, and much more.

Interested in helping out? When? Where?

Sunday 7 February, 11.30am

Little Man Coffee, Ivor House, Bridge Street

Sunday Assembly Cardiff chapter kick off meeting Facebook event

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Introducing The Cardiff Review, publishing the best contemporary student writing worldwide

Writer Jodie Ashdown gives us the lowdown on the launch of The Cardiff Review – new voices in the city!

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Monday night saw the launch of The Cardiff Review, a new online and print magazine which aims to publish the best of postgraduate and student writing from all over the world. Held upstairs in Dempsey’s, there were readings from contributors to the magazine, guest speakers, live music and an open mic. Not to mention a pay-what-you-can bookstall and a prize draw, all of which was lit by candlelight.

cardiff review cover

The Cardiff Review is a digital and print literary magazine that publishes contemporary graduate writing. The magazine was launched to give talented students a platform to showcase their work. Supported by Cardiff University’s School of English, Communication and Philosophy (ENCAP), the magazine is run by editorial team, Jamie Gillingham, Rebecca Lawn, Melinda Kirk and Jodie Ashdown, all of whom met on an MA course in Creative Writing at Cardiff University.

cardiff review

The January issue features writing from Aiden Clarkson, Thomas Stewart, Ellen Davies and Matthew Tett. Future issues will be published monthly, each containing a selection of poetry, fiction and non-fiction. Each piece of writing chosen for publication is accompanied by an illustration, created by a student or recent graduate of visual art.

Each issue of The Cardiff Review also contains an in-depth interview with a writer or professional in the literary industry, like January’s interview with Shelagh Weeks, the first in the magazine’s Behind the Desk series. There’s also a blog, where the editorial team posts weekly content on all manner of interesting posts, such as literary round-ups and weekly writing prompts.

If you would like to find out more or submit to the magazine, visit:

 

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Thanks Jodie!

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We are happening: Cardiff news and events round up for early January 2016

HELLO CARDIFF! Helia here, wishing you a very happy new year! Enjoy yourselves a Cardiff based links and blog round up!

cardiff bay sunrise

We Are Cardiff Instagram

First up, podcaster and local footy fan Alex Feeney is looking after our Instagram account for January, so follow us on there: We Are Cardiff Instagram

EatSleepFootyRepeat

Did I mention that Al’s podcast is called EatSleepFootyRepeat? It’s a podcast about Welsh football. I might be a future guest on that shiz, because hey – who else is more qualified to talk about football than me?? (clue: almost everyone else at this party). Listen to previous episodes of EatSleepFootyRepeat and join their EatSleepFootyRepeat Facebook page. Because sportz, okay?

 

The Oddball Blog

I recently came across a newly launched site called The Oddball Blog, which has a great alternative events guide for January: Alternative events guide

The Oddball Blog also has a great blog about Cardiff music in years past, with interviews with Keith Murrell and Moira Morgan: Retrospect: Cardiff’s musical subculture of the 70s and 80s

Cardiff Castle

Cardiff Castle have announced a series of lectures that will be taking place over the next couple of months:

They look pretty great, eh? You need to register for tickets, details on each individual event. See the overview of all events on the Cardiff Castle Facebook event page

Fundraver for Sharedydd

Sharedydd (Share’ + Caerdydd) – part of Cardiff City of Sanctuary – is a network of ordinary people in Cardiff and beyond who host destitute asylum seekers in their homes – sometimes just for a few nights, sometimes longer – helping people who have nowhere else to turn. On January 14, there will be a fundraiser at Undertone to help raise monies for them. Well worth attending! Check the FB page for other ways to help: Fundraver for Sharedydd Facebook event

The Golden Cross

Urban 75 have posted this great blog about the Golden Cross: Glazed tiles, Grade II listing and drag acts

Cardiff Flea Market’s Auction House!

Exciting news about Cardiff Flea Market, which is opening an auction house and will be holding its first general auction on February 7, 2016, (and every Sunday thereafter). More details on the First Auction Facebook page

Love food, hate waste!

Supported by the Love Food Hate Waste campaign, Green City Events has teamed up with Lia’s Kitchen and Cynefin Cardiff to host a series of pop-up food waste awareness roadshows and cooking events in Cardiff to help people to make the most of the food they might be throwing away.

Details!

Food Waste Roadshows:

  • Saturday 16 Jan – Albany Road
  • Saturday 27 Feb – Roath Farmers Market
  • Tuesday 8 March – Cardiff Students Union

Love Food Hate Waste Cook Ups:

  • Saturday 6 Feb – Plasnewydd Community Hall, 2 Shakespeare St, Roath
  • Saturday 13 Feb – Oasis Refugee Centre, 69B Splott Road, Cardiff. CF24 2BW

Tickets for these events can be booked here; www.greencityevents.co.uk/events or by emailing cookup@greencityevents.co.uk.

 

Uber in Cardiff

In case you hadn’t heard, the Airbnb-new-year’s-eve-orgy-party-of-taxi-cabs that is Uber is coming to Cardiff. Yes! Are we ready for it? Are we big enough for it? Will anyone use it? All these questions and more to be answered at a taxi rank near you: soon, very soon. Booking app Uber granted licence to operate in Cardiff (BBC)

In other news:

Pint of 45 does Chapel 1877

Iolo’s top ten locations in Wales for 2016

A blind woman from Cardiff has had some of her sight restored with an electronic “bionic” eye implant

Cardiff Astronomical Society is opening its Dyffryn Gardens observatory to the public to coincide with BBC Stargazing Live

Are you affected by the Cardiff local development plan? As a resident of Butetown, I personally cannot WAIT for more flats to be built down here. If that’s something we’re short of, it’s flats. Amirite? As Cardiff gets the go-ahead for thousands of new homes, what will the Local Development Plan actually mean for the city? (Wales Online)

Also the NosDa hostel and car opposite the Millennium Stadium has made a wee video, with some nice footage taken around Cardiff

And, what else could I sign off with, but the fat squirrels spotted in Bute Park? Apparently the mild winter has meant the greedy little buggers have just eaten and eaten and eaten, but it hasn’t been cold enough for them to hibernate. Climate change has a lot to answer for …

Also, if you’re looking to increase your book collection and improve your mind with reading this new year, may I recommend the debut publication from We Are Cardiff Press, an anthology of short stories about a bus route around Cardiff? The book is called The 42b – Dark journeys in Cardiff, and would make the perfect treat yo’self gift! Buy The 42b here.

The 42b 012

Til next time!

Peas

Helia
x

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Inside Cardiff’s only pub-theatre: Porter’s, with Dan Porter

We’ve got some big love for Porter’s. It’s a Cardiff bar that features live music, comedy, cabaret, and Wales’ first and only dedicated, full-time professional theatre. It’s just turned three years old, and it’s where we held the party for the first We Are Cardiff Press book!

We’ve wanted to feature the bar for a while, so sent reporter Ellie Philpotts along to interview bar owner and all round great guy Dan Porter for us.

Here’s her piece. And if you haven’t visited Porter’s (or The Other Room theatre) yet, what are you waiting for? Porter’s Facebook / Porter’s website

porters

We Are CArdiff Press 42b launch partyWe Are CArdiff Press 42b launch party

By Ellie Philpotts

If you live in Cardiff, have visited Cardiff, or know Cardiff at all (which I’m guessing you do if you’re reading this), you’ll realise just how many positive traits this city has. Of course, modesty might not be one.

From coffee shop culture on every corner to charming boutiques; lively nightclubs followed up by slightly tamer art galleries, Cardiff has it all. And it’s fair to say that more than a few of these are independent.

However, one venue in particular has been catching my eye recently. And it goes by the name of Porter’s.

The energetic bar can be found nestled on Harlech Court, Bute Terrace. It’s quirky, charming, and the vibe is lively. Basically, it’s the place to be for a unique evening out in the Diff. Wanting to find out more, I popped along for a chat with Dan Porter (as you may or may not have guessed, the name behind the business).

This is him!

Dan Porter

Here’s what went on.

Ellie – Hi, Dan. Thanks in advance for letting me hang out in here, and for putting up with my questions. Let’s start at the start – could you tell me a bit more about Porter’s?

Dan – Sure. We’re an independent Cardiff bar featuring live music, comedy, cabaret and Wales’ first and only dedicated, full-time professional theatre. Miraculously, we just celebrated our third birthday!

Ellie – Many happy returns. So how do you think Porter’s has changed since 2012?

Dan – A lot. The original plan was for it to be much smaller and calmer – actually only about a tenth of its current size and ten times less raucous.

Ellie – How did you start the process of setting up your own bar? It sounds like a big leap which I’m sure lots of work has gone into, especially as you started totally afresh.

Dan – Yeah, I’d never done anything like this before. I worked as an actor for 12 years but fell out of love with that so have gone back to, perhaps, my first love- bars. I thought about the kinds of venues I liked to go to when I was ‘acting’, so devised a business plan based on those (and the feelings and memories they evoked). I spent a lot of time thinking about the whole thing. Then one day I saw this building all boarded up so I had a look around and thought ‘Sod it. Go for it’. I left my agent the next day. That was about three and a half years ago.

Ellie – Cardiff has a vast live music scene. What was it like trying to break into that?

Dan – As much as we love music our original plan wasn’t to concentrate on music – there are so many great bars in Cardiff who do that so very well, such as Full Moon, Clwb Ifor Bach, Gwdihw etc, that it made no sense trying to compete with the experts, so myself and my business partner David Wilson, a theatre producer, set about trying to make Porter’s different – concentrating on comedy, theatre, film, cabaret – playing to our strengths. Of course we dip our toes in the musical waters of Cardiff which are very vibrant and we like to support and promote as best we can. We now put on quite a bit of music and get multiple requests daily from acts wanting to play. We wish we could book them all.

Ellie – There are plenty of bars dotted around Cardiff, a mix of independent and chains. What does it take for one to stand out – do you need a Unique Selling Point?

Dan – It helps but I have no idea what ours is! At Porter’s, customer service is at our heart. We like and support ‘ideas’ and don’t take ourselves too seriously. Our motto is ‘Good People, Good Times’, so that’s what we try to stick to. The basic rules are ‘You can be or do whatever you like here as long as it’s legal, safe and doesn’t threaten to impact negatively on anybody else’s evening’ and ‘Treat people as you would want to be treated’. It’s also worked for us to establish a personal, personable front-facing figure (me), so there’s not that facelessness. We also never charge on the door.

Ellie – Seems like it’s working! If you’re feeling extra-nice, do you have any tips for budding bar entrepreneurs?

Dan – Yeah, don’t do it! Really – it’s hard work and nowhere near as glamorous or lucrative as I thought it would be. I thought I’d be like a Welsh Stringfellow but the reality is a million miles from that. (I am of course very glad to be doing what I am doing – the alternative of working for somebody else doesn’t bear thinking about).

Ellie – Do you think Porter’s would do as well in other cities? What made you choose Cardiff? (I mean, Cardiff is pretty great. I can see why you would want to be here. But still.)

Dan – Cardiff is my home. Always will be. We considered expanding to other places and had opportunities but it’d be hard to translate the same honesty elsewhere and places like this probably already exist in the places we’d consider. All I wanted was a nice bar. I think I have that so I guess I’m happy.

Ellie – Fair enough, I’m sure Cardiff residents will be happy to know we’re keeping you for ourselves! Us at We Are Cardiff held our book launch party at Porter’s earlier this month, and it’s clear to see you guys are passionate in supporting small arts venues. Why is this?

Dan – It’s important. There’s a big independent scene here in Cardiff – of which we are a small part – and the whole thing needs supporting. Places like Depot and the other street food ventures and all the independent bars and arts organisations that are trying to do great things are the lifeblood of the city. Cardiff’s definitely blossomed in recent years and that means a lot to me as a proud Cardiffian.

The Other Room team

Ellie – So can you tell me a bit more about The Other Room, the adjacent theatre? I think it certainly adds another unique touch.

Dan – The Other Room only opened in 2015, but it’s hit the ground running. Before, the annex area was like an escape room, which was great, but we wanted to revolutionise it further. About 18 months ago we began a conversation with Kate Wasserberg, Artistic Director, who came with a great vision – a high quality, full-time professional pub theatre – that complemented ours and The Other Room opened in February to great and continued acclaim. The work that has been put on so far (6 productions to date) has been astounding and that is down to Kate and Bizzy Day, Executive Director, and their amazing team and supporters.

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Thanks to Ellie and Dan – and make sure you check out Porter’s and The Other Room!

 

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