Today’s We Are Cardiff piece goes back in time … and visits a lively gal by the name of Gwen Love, who – in 1996 – is enjoying her 20s in the city of ‘cool Cymru’. Read on to find out what she’s been up to!
I cannot imagine being anywhere more exciting than Cardiff in 1996. I am thrilled to be a part of this amazing city at such a buzzing time. Right now, Cardiff is at the heart of the Cool Cymru movement. It has been amazing to witness the explosion of the Welsh music scene before our very eyes – watching our home-grown talent become part of the Britpop brigade has made us all proud of our heritage and roots. I have been lucky enough to see Catatonia and Super Furry Animals morph from obscure Welsh language bands to being on Top of the Pops and playing with some of the biggest bands of our time. I love the fact that I have seen these bands live several times at venues around the city – and that they just get bigger and better.
I knew I wanted to study in Cardiff as soon as I set down my country-bumpkin-North-Walian feet in the bus station in 1993 – three years ago. An excited gaggle of us were here for the university open day and it was as though we had found utopia. Cool people, friendly bars, and live music. This was what I had yearned for throughout my awkward, frustrated teenage years. I’m ashamed to admit that I paid a lot less attention to the details of my course of study than I did to the events calendar.
It’s not just live music that Cardiff excels at either. The variety of night life is endless. As students we are spoiled with our fantastic Student’s Union and we have all enthusiastically taken part in Fun Factory, Jive Hive, or Cloud 9 at some point in time. The town centre offers everything from the sterility of Zeus (RIP Cocos) to the dirty, dingy yet delightful Metros. At the moment my favourite venue and night out is Clwb Ifor Bach’s newly opened Popscene. A fantastic indie club upstairs playing everything from Oasis to Puressence, where the DJ will kindly oblige to the musical whims of most indie kids. Then, downstairs, for a change of tempo is the Cheesy Club; funk, disco and cheese. It is impossible to dance without a smile. It’s the happiest dance floor in town.
Downtime, when I’m not studying hard, can be spent idling in the beautiful parks with friends after a magnificent breakfast from Ramones. What better way to cure a hangover than by watching the beautiful people play baseball, turning slowly pink in the sun amidst the sleepy floral scents.
When the student loan has been freshly deposited in my bank account my other method of relaxing is to shop, shop, shop. I love Cardiff for its independent shops. I love exploring the arcades to find an elusive vinyl, that perfect 70s shirt to emulate Jarvis, or some beautiful, hand crafted jewellery. It is so easy to buy retro in Cardiff and develop your own sense of style.
I hope to graduate this summer but have no plans to leave Cardiff just yet. I love this city and feel very proud to be studying and partying here. Whatever the future holds, whereever I will be in 20 years time, Cardiff will hold a very special place in my heart and will always be synonymous with friendships, good music and unlimited fun.
Having graduated from Cardiff University in 1996, Gwen Love then moved to Bristol and spent many years in marketing until she retrained as a primary school teacher. She has been teaching for 10 years and is a mother of two young children. Her retroblog came about through her love of music and through a selfish need to do something creative for herself. She always wanted to write and, as she was still in possession of her eventful diary from ’96, she was inspired to write a blog set in that year. During ’96 she left her long term boyfriend, reached the grand old age of 21, and graduated with a respectful drinker’s degree – all to a thoroughly researched Britpop soundtrack. Follow Gwen on Twitter @GwenLove3 and on her blog site www.gwenlove76.wordpress.com. She hopes to publish as a novel in the near future. During 1996 Gwen lived in Cathays. She currently lives in Canton.
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