Right in the middle of an ill-fated long distance relationship with a self-proclaimed Nancy Boy from Norwich many, many years ago, the question arose:
“Would I leave Nottingham for love?”
The question troubled me, not only was this a much too big a question for pre-GCSE hormonal teenager to make but, upon reflection, I realised how great the city I lived in was.
I spent my weekends trawling through the independent music shops and super cool boutiques for alternative wonderment. I partied in night clubs I wasn’t old enough to attend and I stalked many a young troubled musician in a selection of vibrant gigs Nottingham had to offer,
It was 1999 and the skate boarders still dominated the square; the Old Angel was the place to go for a less than nutritious lunch of cheese toasties; the Rig was still a sweaty hole putting on the last of Britpops offerings; Selectadisc was reigning supreme as the place to go for that rare 4track imported EP.
It was a glorious time. Why on earth would I want to leave? I had Rock City all-nighters, rows of market stalls selling knock off Wu-Tang Clan jeans and a some of the best vintage stores I had ever seen, even today. Nottingham had everything I needed, culturally.
Fast forward to 2013. Selectadisk is a sad twinkle in our eyes; the Market Square has had the kind of make over Elizabeth Taylor would have been proud of forcing the skate boarders back out of the limelight; The Rig has been replaced with a snazzy boudoir inspired lounge.
I am no longer a spotty doe eyed Goth goth looking at the City through rose-tinted glasses. Since working as a sound engineer at one of the last remaining music venues in Nottingham, The Maze, singing with various bands over the years and arranging my own live events to raise funds for my roller derby team, Hellfire Harlots, I have seen a lot to be sad about.
I’ve seen great venues open and close due to lack of local support. I’ve seen engineers and promoters undercut each other, bands give up after years of thanklessly lugging equipment from venue to venue. The independent boutiques have been filled with fast food franchises and the rock clubs have started to lose their edge.
You would think this would make me feel sceptical about making this city the centre of my cultural universe but I stand proud in my decision.
Through thick and thin this city has presented me with the best live music scene, introduced me to some of the warmest hosts and talented musicians. It has thrown me into an exciting melee of fabulous friends, exciting artwork and underrated atmosphere. Where else in the world can you catch a play, rock out at a gig, witness live graffiti art and leave a dingy bar with new-found friends some time around dawn, all in one evening?
My experiences with this city as an avid music fan and musician, engineer, promoter and sportsman have not always been positive but they have always been memorable and I would like to share my experiences with this vibrant city with you.
Over the years I have seen a lot of change and I think this is just the beginning. Seemingly proven by the recent critical acclaim and chart success of our home-grown musicians Natalie Duncan and Jake Bugg I think it’s fair to say that this is just the start of something great.
I, like many of my peers, are determined to make a name for this little known city. Permit me to take you along for the ride!