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A Few Favourite Places: Nottingham

So, as you probably know, I go places, I see things. And I thought, in addition to those long long posts about every single thing I did, I could start a series on my favourite places. They will mostly be about food, I cannot lie to you.

I’m going to start with Nottingham – home to Robin Hood, more hipster establishments than you can shake a stick at and me for three years while I did the uni thing.

White Rabbit Teahouse

White Rabbit has two charming locations in Nottingham, both of which are super adorable. With delicately patterned china, cake stands piled high and beautiful tea, White Rabbit is a great place to stop for a break while wandering the busy streets of Nottingham. I’ve had tea and cake though never had the pleasure of afternoon tea there, it looks delicious.

Annie’s

Annie’s claims to bring the Rhode Island to Nottingham. I don’t know how true that is, having never been to New England, but with over 30 burgers to choose from, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love Annie’s. All of them can be served vegan, veggie or meaty, and come with either fries, curly fries, or wedges, and boy, do they fill a plate.

Pit and Pendulum

Oh Pit and Pendulum. Always dressed for Halloween, Pit and Pendulum caters for the drinker in search of something a little less than heavenly. Their house cocktails are the Seven Deadly Sins (drink all seven in a night and win a t-shirt) and I can vouch for every single one as being fantastic. With a suitably goth interior including a secret passageway to the toilets, it’s a great night out.

Bunker

Beer pong, cocktails and the best DJ I think I’ve ever encountered. Bunker is a great place to be, with an excellent vibe and the friendliest bar tenders I’ve ever experienced in a bar that’s also a club. As the name suggests, it’s underground and I can confirm, it’s a hell of a party.

Rock City

Rock City is a gig venue and club. With three different rooms, all of them big, there’s usually a room for everyone (as long as you’re at least vaguely happy with rock). My favourite night is a Saturday, where I used to dance the night away to the rock, pop punk and emo that characterised my music taste as a teenager.

Have I missed out your favourite place in Nottingham? Let me know – I love to hear about new places to discover.

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Nottingjam 2: Rise of the Toast

Last year I went to Nottingjam and it was the first swing dance weekend I’d ever been to. It was so much fun and I learnt so much and you can read all about it here. There’s something magical about swing weekends, and I am so grateful that from the 4th to the 7th March I got to be at Nottingjam 2016.

I was so excited by the prospect of Nottingjam that I booked both the Friday and the Monday off work so I could spend as much time as possible dancing. As it turns out, my trains were delayed and when I turned up to my hotel, the fire alarm was going off. Not the most auspicious start. But any reservations that were starting to form melted away when I headed to the first social of the weekend.

Held at the Belgrave Rooms in Nottingham city centre, the opening social was a chance for a) people to arrive in Nottingham, b) people to ease into dancing and c) old friends to catch up. Since graduating and moving to Birmingham, I’ve seen less of my swing friends than I’d like and I spent a lot of the Friday social catching up. There was some dancing too – despite my new year’s resolution I’ve only been to two swing lessons this year, and it was good to start the weekend nice and gently.

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There was both toast and jam.

Saturday classes started at 10am which meant plenty of time to wake up and wander down to The Canal House, where the Level 2 lindy stream classes were taking place. Nottingjam had 3 lindy streams and 2 solo jazz streams. I signed up as a level 2 follow, and it was great.

Simon Robyn at the European Swing Dance Championships 2015

Our first class was with Simon Bressanelli and Robyn Larsen. To begin with they talked about communication during dance, which included an exercise where you had to look your partner in the eyes the entire time you were dancing. As someone who is very guilty of not making eye contact with partners, it was really useful to be reminded of the need to check in while dancing. The second half of the lesson they taught us how to learn steps from Youtube by simulating a Youtube video. I’m not gonna lie to you, I thought it would be really difficult to figure out a move just from watching it, but it turns out that with a willing partner, it’s really fun to experiment and even if you don’t quite get the move you were aiming for, there’ll be some cool moves you hit on accidentally along the way.

Scott Cupit and Jenny Thomas at Hullzapoppin’ 2015

Second lesson was with Scott Cupit and Jenny Thomas, the latter of whom choreographs swing routines for Strictly Come Dancing. So you know, no pressure there. With Scott and Jenny we focused on swing outs, particular ones where follows are sent out facing front. They’re really good for performances because it means the follows are facing the audience, and there was no better demonstration for that than the all skate in the Open Jack and Jill competition that night. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

We also learnt some footwork variations for front facing swing outs, which I could do by myself but then could *not * get the hang of when dancing with a partner. I’ll work on it. And by the end we’d covered a few different types of swing out, two of which I’d never done before.

Our final lesson of the day was with Lisa Bradley and Bob Grasse. We covered different ways to build lateral and rotational momentum, including a version of lindy circle where we covered so much ground so quickly, I’m pretty sure that with one lead, my feet didn’t touch the ground.

Finally it was time for the Saturday social. Held at the Britannia Hotel, the theme was blue and everyone looked fantastic. With two live bands (House of the Black Gardenia and Swing Gitan) it was a truly swinging evening. As I mentioned earlier, there were some competitions. A beginners Jack and Jill, an open Jack and Jill and an open Solo Jazz. Last year I explained what a Jack and Jill is, but in case you’re new or you’ve forgotten since the first Nottingjam, I’ll go over it again.

“In between sets there was a Jack and Jill competition, which was great to watch. So a Jack and Jill competition is where the partners are randomly assigned. So you could be dancing with a stranger or your best friend – it’s just luck of the draw.” – Taken from my blog post about Late Night Lindy. And if you want to watch the finals from Nottingjam, there’s a Youtube playlist here.

And, like I mentioned earlier, when the all skate in the Open Jack and Jill happened, it was magical. Everyone did a front facing swingout perfectly on time and it was glorious.

Open Jack and Jill final – Nottingjam 201 6

After many hours of dancing, the night turned into the after party at a nearby club. Fantastic evening culminating in getting to bed at 5am. Just in time for the fire alarm to go off at 7am. Thankfully it stopped and I got to go back to bed straight away.

Sunday brought taster session, none of which I went to because I was asleep. Then we had some more classes. Lisa and Bob taught us how to incorporate Savoy Kicks into swing outs, which took a lot of energy that I didn’t really have. Simon and Robyn taught us to twenties Charleston, which was so much fun. So much. And finally Nancy Hitzig and Scott taught us a small routine that had lots of spins and swing outs, which was a really great way to end the weekend.

Though it wasn’t over yet. There was one final social, a tea dance. It was lovely and I had so many great dances. I really was sad to leave and to say bye to everyone I’d hung out with over the weekend.

Nottingjam 2 was an amazing weekend and I’m so glad that I got to be a part of it. The only thing I would change is where I stayed, and that is all on me. So if next year Nottingjam 3 gets mentioned to you, you should go. Because it’s a great weekend in a great city.

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If It Ain’t Got That Swing

So recently I’ve been to two electro swing concerts, and have blogged about neither so far. And thus today’s post so about the genius of Parov Stelar and Caro Emerald, and how I need all concerts to have an excitable saxophonist from now on.

Parov Stelar

In November, I was listening to Parov Stelar as I often do, and idly wondered if the band was touring. To my shock and delight, they were. And they were going to be in Stuttgart at the same time as I was. So I messaged Helen and made her agree to come with me.

Getting to the Hanns Martin Schleyer Halle was surreal for two reasons. 1) I learnt about Hanns Martin Schleyer at university because German history and 2) it’s next to the Porsche arena and the Mercedes Benz arena so their names were up in lights.

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A little bit surreal.

When we got into the arena, we headed straight to the bar for pretzels and beer, because when in Germany, right? The arena wasn’t exactly full, and as we had standing tickets, I was looking forward to not being super squished. And then the support act started.

Eugene and the Cat are an Austrian band, who play jazz, swing and glitch hop. No, I have no idea what glitch hop is, but I was looking forward to finding out. I still have no idea what glitch hop is. But Eugene the Cat were pretty great. Super energetic, super excited to be there – all in all a great support act.

And then after a long interval in which the entire arena filled up, Parov Stelar came out. And the crowd went wild.  With a DJ, double bass, bass guitar, guitar, trumpet, trombone, saxophone and vocalist, there’s a lot going on. But because me and Helen had bothered to watch Eugene and the Cat we were really close to the front, so we got to see all the dorky dancing and how excited the saxophonist was.

We spent a good while trying to figure out which of them was Parov Stelar and decided it must be the saxophonist because he was enjoying himself so much. I had a lot of fun and Helen even had a good time, which is good seeing as I’d made her come with me to see a band she’d never listened to before. And then we nearly missed the last tram home because we were buying merch.

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All my pictures are blurry because I was dancing too much.

Good night. Such a good night. I would definitely recommend seeing Parov Stelar because they had so much energy. It was one of the best atmospheres of any concert I’ve ever been to. And I went to see S Club 7.

Caro Emerald

Caro Emerald was my first explicit introduction into electro swing and I am really grateful that my Dad discovered her, because she is great. We went to see her in 2014 and about a month later we booked tickets to go and see her in 2015.

Cue Decemeber 2015, and me and Dad were in Nottingham ready to see Caro Emerald again. Supported by Andreya Triana who was freaking amazing, Caro Emerald wasn’t too shabby either.

With a band that between them played keyboards, trumpet, saxophone, clarinet, guitar, double bass, bass guitar, and a DJ, many of the songs were more electro than the CD versions, and that was fantastic. I do love me some electro in my swing.

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Again, awful quality because I was dancing an awful lot.

Not only were the band good at music, they were pretty good at dancing too. At one point two of them abandoned their instruments to break into the Charleston in the middle of the stage. And Caro Emerald did exactly what I would do if I were a singing sensation – she took her shoes off and joined in.

It was such a good evening and I can relive it, as when buying a programme you got a code to download the audio from any concert from The Absolutely Me Tour. Caro Emerald always gets an audience dancing, and really what more could you want?

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Here’s what you missed on Glee

Okay, so Glee is over and we all like to pretend we never ever watched it. But their “here’s what you missed on last week’s episode” was always succinct and upbeat. So I thought I’d steal it for this post. Mwhahahaha. (Please no-one sue me.)

Since my last post I’ve gained the internet, which has seriously improved my life because the internet is a great invention and is how I can actually post this post. My last blog post was on 3G. I do hope you weren’t too bored without me filling up the web with my witterings. Though I’ve gained twitter followers in this time, so I’m guessing some people like my witterings.

Anyway, back to the point. I have internet but life has been happening. And so I’m going to catch you all up on what I’ve been up to.

1. The UCA MA Showcase

As I have mentioned once or twice, my friend Maddie has been doing a fashion MA which culminated in a showcase of her work and other MA fashion/design/photography students at UCA.

This meant I went down to London, straight to Shoreditch, and went to what is possibly the coolest/most hipster party I have ever been to. It was a fashion exhibit in a crumbling warehouse full of very cool, very fashion knowledgeable people. And there was me, in what I’d worn to work.

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“Where is May Morris?” – Maddie’s awesome collection

The exhibition was great. My Dad actually came down the next day to see it in the daytime and Maddie walked us through what everyone had done. Particular highlights (aside from Maddie’s collection obvs) included Martin Garwood’s photography which you can see on this website and Louise Shoulder’s jewellery, which as far as I’m aware is not on a website. But if she ever creates one, I will let you know. Once I’ve bought all of it.

2. Glasgow wedding

The weekend after the fashion show, I was seeing Maddie again, as we travelled far north for the wedding of the year. Our friends Nat and Burly Chris (those are their official names and I will not hear a word otherwise) were tying the knot in Chris’ home town, which meant kilts, bagpipes and a gorgeous church.

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Look how pretty.

The reception was in two parts, with the meal happening in a German brewery and the dancing in the Winter Gardens. It was an amazing day and a beautiful wedding. The best way I can sum it up is that I cried five times. That’s how good a wedding it was. Like I said, Best Wedding of the Year.

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LOOK HOW PRETTY.

3. Morris men in Birmingham

The weekend after that I was at home, pottering about as you do when life has been a bit hectic for the past month. And during this, I went into Birmingham with Beth to explore Grand Central, because the new New Street has opened and it is incredible. But that’s a post for a different time.

After thoroughly exploring, we ended up at Brewdog for a quiet drink, when suddenly a hoard of Morris men appeared. It was the most surreal and most English thing to happen in my life in a good long while.

As it turned out, they were the Morris 18130 who have the aim of encouraging young people to join Morris dancing clubs. They were very lovely and explained stuff to us and even let Beth have a go. If you want to know more about them, they have a decent website here, but in my couple of hours experience of them, all you need to know is that they were great, enthusiastic and seriously very lovely.

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They stole a Beth.

4. Nottingham

The weekend just gone when I should have been writing a blog post, I dashed off to Nottingham for some swing and Quidditch. Aside from a dance with a friend at the Best Wedding of the Year, I haven’t done any swing dance in three months, and it was so good to be back in the (pardon the pun) swing of things.

What was even better than the dancing, which means it was pretty darn amazing, was seeing the friends I haven’t seen in three months. Both swing people and Quidditch people made me feel very loved, and very told off for having booked a hotel room rather than stealing a sofa from one of them.

5. Shrek the Musical

As well as less than 24 hour visit to Nottingham, I also went to see Shrek the Musical at the Wolverhampton Grand. It was hysterical and I would highly recommend it. You know how the first Shrek film is surprisingly good when you rewatch it? The musical was surprisingly good considering I already knew all the punchlines. Fiona and Shrek were both developed slightly further as characters, the Dragon was a very accurate puppet, the songs were super catchy and the guy playing Lord Farquad… Gerard Carey, you were fantastic. Superb. Phenomenal.

Shrek the Musical is basically a pantomime but without the audience participation. And audience participation is my least favourite part of pantomimes. It’s so good. So good. I’d say go see it at the Grand but its run is now over.

In amongst my praise for the show, I also have to say that the security guard at the Grand went above and beyond when he let me stay in the theatre long after everyone else had gone, because it was a Saturday night and he was worried about me waiting for my lift outside.

And that my friends is what you missed in my life. I hope it was worth the wait and that you feel successfully caught up. Any other questions, you know where the comment box is.

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All Grown up

On Monday I graduated. Four years at uni all building to that one ceremony and now it’s all over. After the late nights (of studying and partying), after so much use of Google translate, after all the stress, it came down to a couple of hours wearing a stupid hat.

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Dat hat tho.

Graduation was good. It really was. Even if I did feel like a dork in a mortarboard. Everyone was dressed up, everyone was struggling with gowns and hoods, and everyone was just as confused by the fact that we had to bow when we walked across the stage.

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My shoes were the prettiest. 

I feel like, to keep with the grand tradition of this blog, I ought to write a semi blow by blow account. But to be honest, it was a lot of talking to friends, waiting for the ceremony to start and clapping. I was seventh on stage so that was stressful. Nothing like having to walk, bow and shake hands in front of over a hundred people to make you want to have a practice.

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My uni’s twitter reblogged my graduation selfie. What.

My Dad came to watch, which was great, while my grandparents and aunts watched the live stream from the comfort of their living rooms, and then later, we went back to the West Midlands for a family meal where I got given not one but two stuffed toys with mortarboards on. One’s a bear and one’s a bear/monkey hybrid…

This week has been super busy, mostly because while graduation has only just happened, I’m starting a job tomorrow. Which meant moving out of Nottingham, moving home, and buying work appropriate clothes because I can no longer live in jeans…

I have a tax code. A tax code, guys. I think I’m officially an adult. But you know, I still have a Johnny Depp poster on my wall and too many stuffed toys to count. Ah, the joys of moving back into your teenage bedroom. So this blog will be coming to you from the Birmingham area rather than Nottingham. Seeing as we managed the transition from Germany to the UK, I think we’re going to cope. Stay tuned for posts about me failing to adult.

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Don’t Stop Movin’ to the Funky Funky Beat (ft. The Strypes)

Because I’m a cool kid*, last week I was at two different gigs. Two whole gigs, guys. I now have to use two hands to count the number of music gigs I’ve been to. Definitely a cool kid.** And to prove it, I’m gonna tell you about them.

First gig was The Strypes at Rescue Rooms in Nottingham on the 6th May. Man, that was a lot of information in one sentence. I’d never been to a gig at Rescue Rooms despite frequenting the establishment weekly in my first year for the pub quiz, so this was my first time in the club side rather than the bar side. It’s like a club. Not sure what I was expecting.

So, The Strypes. According to their website, they’re a 4 piece rhythm and blues band from Cavan, Ireland who formed in 2011.  I mean, I thought they were Britpop, but I’m not going to argue with their official online bio. They do look like they should be Britpop though.

They were supported by Red Faces who are actually Britpop according to their Soundcloud bio. They were alright. I have to admit I’m not the hugest fan of Britpop. So I can’t give a more qualified opinion. I have no idea of their lyrics but they looked like they were having a good time, so it was at least fun to watch them. That counts for something, right?

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Red Faces. Not The Strypes.

When The Strypes came on, I was ready for music I recognised. And then they announced they were mostly doing stuff from their new EP, which I believe wasn’t out at the time. It’s a perfectly valid decision, especially as I think the point of this tour was to promote the EP. It’s just difficult to sing along to songs you’ve not heard before. They did play a couple of songs from their first EP so I wasn’t entirely lost for the entire evening. Just most of it.

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Actually The Strypes

However, The Strypes were a lot of fun to watch, especially when the lead singer and the bass guitarist had synchronised head movements to certain parts of the songs. So despite the lack of songs I actually knew, it was a decent evening. You can listen to The Strypes here.

Then, on 7th May, I headed to Birmingham to see S Club 7 in concert. Oh yes, I went to see S Club and I am not ashamed of it. Because it was so good. So good. Excellent, really. Even amazing. Maybe I should start from the beginning.

The support act was meant to be Bars and Melody (nope, never heard of them) and then ended up being AJ Lehrman (never heard of him either). He was very earnest. Considering it was just him on a huge stage, he tried valiantly, but I couldn’t help but doubt his claims that he loved S Club 7 as a kid, seeing as how he’s 16. He might have loved them. He might have. But they broke up in 2003, six whole years before he was born. So… Anyway, he did a couple of his own songs and then a cover of Pretty Pretty Please by Pink, and exhorted us to believe in ourselves and that we’re perfect exactly as we are. Which was an admirable statement. Like, I said, he was very earnest. Very American.

And then. Then the lights dimmed and everyone was on their feet. And then S Club 7 came out. Now, I never saw S Club 7 in concert when I was a kid, so my nostalgia is for dancing round my room, rather than comparing my childhood experience of a concert to an adult one. But my stars and bonnet, were they good.

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The seven back together again.

If you’ve never heard of S Club 7, below is one of their hits. They were together between 1998 and 2003, and had their own TV shows of Miami 7, then L.A. 7, then Hollywood 7 and Viva S Club. They had a film, which I’d completely forgotten about until last week. They were huge in the UK. Not sure if they made it in the rest of the world…

Getting primary school disco flashbacks

Their songs are pure, unadulterated pop. It was the early 00s, and the cheesier and poppier a song was, the better it did. That’s how I remember it anyway. And S Club 7 played into that cheesiness the entire way through the gig. They weren’t trying to pretend that their songs are going to down in history as perfectly crafted songs, there was no pretension, just sheer cheese and joy.

Not the official video, but the version from their TV show for added nostalgia.

As well as their hits, they each did an individual bit. For most of them, this was a performance of their solo songs – Rachel Stevens did LA Ex. It was awesome. But Paul came out with a guitar and did an acoustic rendition of ‘Reach’. Which probably shouldn’t have worked, but it did and he got really excited when the audience did the harmonies. As if we weren’t going to do the harmonies.

There was also a full S Club 7 cover of Uptown Funk, which was ridiculous and amazing, much like the original. It was such a great night. Some of the links between songs were kinda forced, but seeing as it was the first night of the tour, I can forgive them for being a little shaky on how to get from one solo act to the next. It was an excellent concert and I’m so glad I went. Thanks to Jo for coming too and singing along as much as I did. Sometimes it’s nice to just listen to purely happy music. Sometimes, cheese is good for the soul.

* Disclaimer: I am definitely not a cool kid.

**Disclaimer: I am still definitely not a cool kid.

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BQC: A Flying Visit

George Weasley: Rough game, Quidditch.

Fred Weasley: Brutal, but no one’s died in years. Someone will vanish occasionally, but they’ll turn up in a month or two!

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, (2001 film)

It’s true. Quidditch, even Muggle Quidditch, is a dangerous sport. But the threat of mysteriously vanishing didn’t deter over 400 players descending on Wollaton Park last weekend, all ready to battle to the death if necessary for the honour of being crowned the British Quidditch Champions.

Photo credit: University of Nottingham Wollaton Hall is as impressive as Quidditch skills

Photo credit: University of Nottingham

Wollaton Hall is as impressive as Quidditch skills

As I mentioned in my last post, my local team is the Nottingham Nightmares. I’ll can give you three guesses who I support. Yeah, that’s right – Derby. No, I’m kidding. Of course I support Nightmares. Let’s be honest, I live with their team captain. It’d be a trifle awkward if I didn’t. Fair warning: this post will be Notts Nightmares centric. So I donned my nightmares shirt and face paint, and headed out to Wollaton Park in time for the first Nightmares game of the British Quidditch Cup.

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All the things needed to support your team: tutus, banners and nail polish. Oh and face paint, of course.

Unfortunately due to various reasons, the games on Day One were running late, which meant there was still waiting around to be done when I turned up. This did mean, however, that I had time to grab some BQC swag and be introduced to various quidditching people. And then finally, it was time for Nottingham to play Bangor Broken Broomsticks.

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The official programme is so kickass.

Before I go on, I should probably quickly explain a couple of things. Firstly, the snitch is worth 30 points and catching it ends the game. Each time a Quaffle goes through a hoop that’s 10 points. (And if you want slightly more explanation than that, Sky Sports were at BQC and filmed a (at times kind of cheesy) video explanation complete with actual quidditch players and adorable kids, which you can find here.) On Day One, teams were playing the other teams that were in their groups (See here for more details of fixtures and scores).

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Photo credit: University of Nottingham

A Quaffle, a bludger and many broomsticks

I’m not a sports commentator, so I’m sorry but you’re not going to get a blow by blow recount of the match. But I can tell you that both teams played well, but finally Nightmares triumphed, with the score 150*-70. (For the uninitiated, an asterisk means that team caught the snitch.) There was much celebration on the part of the Nightmares, because winning your first game is always a great way to kick off a tournament.

Photo credit: University of Nottingham

Photo credit: University of Nottingham

Nightmares celebrating a well deserved win.
(The guy in the yellow headband caught the snitch.)
(He was mobbed by the entire team.)

The second game Nightmares played was against The Flying Chaucers. Flying Chaucers formed just two months ago and brought a fairly small squad to BQC. They played really well, particularly for such a new team, but the final score was 280*-10 to Nottingham. Winning both matches was a solid start.

Photo credit: University of Nottingham

Photo credit: University of Nottingham

The Chaucers putting up a valiant fight.

As the games were running late on Day One, Nightmares only played two games on the Saturday, rather than the three they should have done. However, it was a beautiful day, and I don’t think anyone minded too much. Of course, there were plenty of matches to watch in between Nightmare games and it was a really great start to the weekend.

Photo credit: Donald Stazicker

Photo credit: Donald Stazicker

“Quidditch face” can strike anyone anytime anywhere.

Saturday night there was a social, where I think everyone I talked to told me how tired they were and they couldn’t believe they’d dragged themselves out, but hadn’t the day gone well? The social was very lowkey due to the excessive tiredness of pretty much everyone, but it ended with a highland dance off, so fun was definitely had.

Photo credit: Donald Stazicker

Photo credit: Donald Stazicker

Nightmares going for a goal against Durham.

Sunday dawned grey and drizzly, but I didn’t see it because I slept through my alarm. I don’t want to say that watching Quidditch is as tiring as playing because that’s simply not true, but man it takes it out of you. I missed the first Nightmares match which was against Durhamstrang. Nightmares lost, with the final score standing at 110*-60. A close match but still a loss.

Photo credit: Donald Stazicker

Photo credit: Donald Stazicker

A reminder that Quidditch is a full contact sport.

By the time I turned up, it had been established that despite the loss to Durham, Nightmares were through the group stage and into the round of sixteen. This meant playing Derby Union Quidditch for a place in the Quarterfinals. To start off with Nightmares were not at their best, but they pulled it back, with the final score being 80*-40 to Nottingham. Which meant they were through to the Quarterfinals.

Photo credit: Donald Stazicker

Photo credit: Donald Stazicker

Notts giving it all they’d got against the Chimeras.

And in the quarterfinals they were facing Radcliffe Chimeras, who, at the time were both the British and European champions. But Nightmares were prepared for a fight, even when the heavens opened. It was the tensest match I have ever watched. By snitch release (18 minutes into the game) the score was 30-0 to the Chimeras, which meant if Nottingham caught the snitch without the Chimeras scoring anymore, the game would go to overtime which would mean if they caught the snitch again they’d win and be through to the semifinals.

Photo credit: Donald Stazicker

Photo credit: Donald Stazicker

Solid defensive seeking by the Nightmares’ Seeker.

Sadly, it was not to be with Chimeras both scoring more and catching the snitch, and the final score was 110*-10 to the Chimeras. But Nightmares played fantastically and all of their supporters were so proud of them. And they should be so proud of themselves.

Photo credit: University of Nottingham

Photo credit: University of Nottingham

Southampton about to beat out a Chimeras Chaser.

In the end, the final was between Radcliffe Chimeras and Southampton Quidditch Club 1. Complete with a disallowed snitch catch, injuries, and a pitch move, it was both a long and tense match. But finally, finally, finally it was over. With Southampton Quidditch Club 1 as the new British Quidditch Champions.

Photo credit: University of Nottingham

Photo credit: University of Nottingham

You’re going to want to click on this photo to fully see how great it is.

If you want full results plus interesting statistics, you should look here, but the final top rankings were:

1st – Southampton Quidditch Club 1

2nd – Radcliffe Chimeras

3rd – Keele Squirrels

It was an amazing weekend, which was made even sweeter for Nightmares (who came 5th overall) who found out that their performance had secured them a place at the European Quidditch Cup, which is in Oxford, 17-18th April 2015. I hope all players at BQC enjoyed their time in Nottingham, because it was fantastic to have them here. And I’m so proud of Nightmares. I said it before, but I’m saying it again because it’s true. I have high hopes for them at EQC. Because #ibelieveinnightmares.

Photo credit: University of Nottingham

Photo credit: University of Nottingham

Watch out EQC. Nightmares are coming for you.

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Do you even fly, bro?

So Quidditch is a thing. Like, a real life, honest to god, you can go play it thing. And with the British Quidditch Cup fast approaching, I figured I should probably do at least a semi-explaining blog before you get assaulted with tales of Nottingham Nightmares’ romp to victory. Yes, I have absolute faith in my local team. No, I don’t pay attention to statistics. #ibelieveinnightmares

Nightmares
(
Photo credit: Helen Freeman)

Nottingham Nightmares: Looking positively electrifying

Let me begin with please don’t ever ask a Quidditch player if they really fly. Responses will range from sarcasm to stabbing and to be honest, I’m not sure which is worse. You want to face down a Quidkid who’s had tons of practice of answering this for full comedic effect, be my guest. But you won’t come out of it well. I once convinced a guy we fly. He looked so crushed when he found out it wasn’t true.

Muggle Quidditch or IQA Quiddditch originated in the USA in 2005, but has spread across the globe with teams on almost every continent. The basics from the Harry Potter books remain true. Chasers, beaters, keeper, seeker. Quaffles, bludgers, snitch. Mixed gender. Three hoops. Full contact. Broomsticks. Ridiculous commentary from spectators. I’m not going to go into the ins and outs of the rules because a) I’m a little hazy on them myself and b) man, that would take a long time. The basics can be found in the infographic below:

Quidditch rules

(Photo credit: Sophie Chrétien/London Unspeakables)

So you may have noticed that I said it’s a mixed gender sport. Much like in books, muggle Quidditch welcomes all genders on their teams. Which means everyone gets to join in the fun and violence. Thanks to the “four maximum” rule, there can only be four people who identify as the same gender on the pitch for the same team at any one time. Not only does it mean the mixed gender nature of the sport is codified in the rules, but it creates a LGBTI friendly space with an environment where people are highly aware of the fact that gender is a spectrum not a binary. If you want to read more about how this plays out in Quidditch in the UK, I recommend this article.

As I believe I mentioned, the British Quidditch Cup is rapidly coming up and this year it’s going to be Nottingham. So Quidkids from around the country will be descending on Wollaton Hall from 7th March to 8th March. Competing teams have been divided into six groups, who will then play a round robin within their group. At the end of the first day, the teams will be ranked based on the results of the round robin, and only the top sixteen will make it through to the next day. Then a round of sixteen, Quarter Finals, Semi Finals and a Final will take place. Standard stuff, right? For more details of the tournament format, see here.

Basically, next week’s going to be an exciting weekend for Quidditch enthusiasts. Watch this space for a blog about it. If you’re in the UK and interested in finding your local Quidditch team, you can use this handy page on the Quidditch UK website. And now, having created a blog post that is a mess of everything Quidditch, I’m gonna leave you with a list of all teams competing in the British Quidditch Cup, because there’s some serious alliteration going on in some of them.

Bangor Broken Broomsticks, Bristol Brizzlepuffs, Cambridge University Quidditch Club, Chester Chasers, Derby Union Quidditch Club, Durhamstrang, Falmouth Falcons, Holyrood Hippogriffs, Keele Squirrels, Leeds Griffins, Leicester Thestrals, London Unspeakables, Loughborough Longshots, Norwich Nifflers, Nottingham Nightmares, Oxford Quidlings, Radcliffe Chimeras, Reading Rocs, Southampton Quidditch Club, Southampton Quidditch Club 2, St Andrews Snidgets, The Flying Chaucers, and Warwick Whomping Willows.

Nightmares 2
(
Photo credit: Helen Freeman)

How could you not support them? Look how great they look. 

1

Nottingjam: Sugar, we’re going down swinging

I wasn’t going to put an addendum in the title, because there’s already a pun in Nottingjam, but then I couldn’t resist. I’ve written Nottingjam on my phone so often, it now offers that instead of Nottingham in predicative text. But what is Nottingjam, I hear you cry. Well, dear friends, first and foremost Nottingjam was awesome. But in a more helpful answer, Nottingjam was the University of Nottingham’s first swing weekend.

I may have written about swing once or twice before but prepare yourselves, because this post is going to contain three days’ worth of swing. That’s right – three whole days. From 13th Feb to the 15th life turned entirely dance related. From the welcome dance to final drinks, the weekend became a case of dance eat sleep repeat. An exhausting but enjoyable combination.

Beginning on Friday 13th February, Nottingjam took over Late Night Lindy (which I wrote about before Christmas in this post) for the welcome dance. Starting at 8pm and ending at midnight, the welcome dance was a chance to pick up wristbands (blue for follows, red for leads, yellow for social passes) and begin the weekend right with a social dance. A chance to meet people in town for the weekend, a chance for solo jazz routines if the right song comes on, and a chance to, well, social dance. Late Night Lindy’s always fun and Friday evening was no exception. Even though dancing with strangers is always a bit terrifying, because kicking someone the first time you meet them is never a good impression. Thankfully, I kept my limbs to myself and everyone was lovely.

10626289_10155371417645438_8075961379687861699_o(Photo Credit: Opaluwah Photography)
Swinging the night away.

Bright and early (at 10am) on Saturday, registration opened for those who hadn’t arrived the night before, and then at half past lessons began. I was in the middle stream making me Knee Slapper, rather than an Apple Jack or a Strutter, so I can only talk about the lessons I went to. I mean, you could probably have figured that out for yourself, but I thought I’d make it clear.

The first class was taught by Matthew Lane and Jenny Clapp, and with a warm up to Shake It Off by Taylor Swift, it was an energetic start to the day. Which was great, seeing as it actually woke me up. And then they focused on fluidity. We started by looking at the shapes made by swing moves, by not doing any moves and just moving with our partner and making shapes. Which was far more difficult than you would have thought. Apparently rock step triple step is deeply ingrained in us. Then we got on to swing outs and lindy circles and turns, but the point of the lesson was to do not do one move. Then another. Then another. It was about how to keep movement flowing and to see a dance as one continuous thing rather than as a series of moves. Difficult but useful.

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(Photo credit: Opaluwah Photography)
Matt and Jenny

Second class was with Alex Sainsbury and Leanna Fitzpatrick, and we focused on Charleston. My Charleston is not great, I can’t lie to you. I can manage it in classes, but when it comes to social dancing, I’d far rather do Lindy at an inhuman speed than switch to Charleston. However, after the hour we had with Alex and Leanne, I can at least say I improved. I mean, still not in any hurry to take to the social dance floor with Charleston, but I am far less paranoid that I’ll misjudge the speed and ask someone to dance to a Charleston paced song.

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(Photo credit: Opaluwah Photography)
Alex and Leanne.

After lunch us Knee Slappers had a two hour class with Cam Mitchell and Cat Foley. First hour was on technique. To be honest the thing I remember most was how little you need to actually hold hands. As in, yes, have the connection with the lead’s right arm and the follow’s left arm, but the opposite hands? They can be left alone for a lot of moves. And even in moves where they’re necessary, they’re not needed for that long. As a follow, it meant I had to pay more attention – absolutely no zoning out allowed. Not that would I ever zone out while dancing… The second hour was full of spins. There were Texas Tommies (How does one pluralise Tommy? Is it Tommys? Tommies?), which were then followed by another spin, and then was a spin with directional rotation to get back into hold and…Guys there were a lot of spins, okay?

And then to end the day, we had Nigel and Debbie Wale teaching us a Lindy Hop routine. There were a few new moves that took a decent amount of brain power to master, but it was fairly chilled, which was great because after five hours of classes my feet were mutinying.

I then walked home because I am a smart bean, and proceeded to eat, sleep and shower in about two hours, before heading out again to the social dance. Taking place in the Great Hall at the university, it was amazing. With Me and Mr Jones as a live band, everyone dressed up, and a Jack and Jill competition it was such a great night. It started at 8pm and went on until 2.30am, during which time I discovered that there is such a thing as Too Much Dancing. Symptoms include feet mutinying, a desire but lack of ability to continue dancing and a desperate need to sit down. Too Much Dancing brought on by Lindy Hop is the epitome of going down swinging. Thankfully this can be cured by sitting down for about four songs. Then you can go ask an instructor to dance and embarrass yourself by messing up a lot dance again.

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(Photo credit: Opaluwah Photograpy)
Me and Mr Jones making the night go with a swing.

Getting up on Sunday was way too difficult, so I did not make to any of the taster lessons. But I hear tell that they were all good, especially Belly Dance. The three available were Indian Dancing, Belly Dancing and Balboa. And as much fun as they sounded, asking me to be on campus by midday was just asking too much. So I turned up at 3pm for the Tea Dance.

With the bunting and cake and dancing it felt very British. As someone said, with it being in the atrium which is all glass and plants, it almost felt like we were in a posh hotel from the 1920s. There was even live music again, with Rosie, one of swing soc’s members, singing. Lasting for four whole hours, it was a really great way to wind down the weekend. Chilled dancing will always be one of my favourite ways to spend a Sunday. Especially when there’s a funky shim sham thrown in too.

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Do love bunting.

After much dancing, we headed to the SU bar for farewell drinks, and then, again because I am a smart bean, I walked home. I would not recommend it. Walking after that much dancing was less than fun. And that was the end of Nottingjam. It was University of Nottingham’s first swing weekend and my first swing weekend and it was awesome. A ridiculous amount of fun was had, even if it took my feet three days to recover. Roll on Robin Hood Hop. And Nottingjam 2, of course.

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(Photo credit: Opaluwah Photography)
The lovely people of the first ever Nottingjam.

[Note: Where credited, photos were taken by Opaluwah Photography, who you can find here or on Facebook here)

0

Why I cared about Star Wars for an Hour

4th February 2015 marked the beginning of the popular culture lectures at the University of Nottingham and I went because what else am I gonna do with my spare time other than go to non-compulsory lectures?

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Look how pretty the poster is

Open to the public, the physics lecture hall was full, even with some people sitting on the stairs. I’m gonna hazard a guess that the vast majority of people there were students at the university, but one should never underestimate the pull of Star Wars. I feel like I should take a moment to explain that, personally, I am ambivalent towards Star Wars. I’ve seen Episodes I-IV (feel free to rage about how I’ve missed out the best two in the comments) and of course it’s a part of popular culture, so I know a fair bit. Let’s be honest, to not know anything about Star Wars would be impressive. So why did I go? Well, the lecture was entitled “It’s a trope!”: ‘Star Wars’ and/in translation and I’m a sucker for translation, especially when applied to fiction. If anyone wants to link me to articles about how Dothraki and Elvish are constructed, I’d be a very happy Kat. So yes. There I was, in a lecture theatre about to be lectured on the importance of translation in a fictional world I don’t care that much about.

Thankfully, Dr Pierre-Alexis Mével is very engaging and knows his stuff. With an introduction video that was an homage to the opening of A New Hope, the lecture started well and when it became a more standard lecture it was still interesting. Leastways I thought it was. But as previously stated, I am a translation nerd.

Starting with the translation of the films into foreign languages, the problems of translating anything into a foreign language were quickly raised, with Han Solo becoming Yan Solo in French so that it wasn’t pronounced ‘An and thus a girl’s name. Chinese bootleg subtitles were covered, where it was well and truly proven that machines shouldn’t be completely trusted with translation. Then there was a brief discussion on how alien languages are tackled in TV and films, which boils down to either 1) everyone speaks the same language (usually English), 2) there are different languages and it’s subtitled, or 3) there are different language and there is no translation. Fairly standard stuff. Still interesting.

Moving on from general issues of translation, we turned to the topic of translation within the Star Wars films and looked at the various languages spoken within the films, like Galatic Basic, Huttese and Shyriiwook. Which human languages these were based on was covered, including the fact that Shyriiwook is a combination of various animal noises. Then there was discussion on C-3PO’s role as a translator, and whether he is a machine performing what he’s coded for or if he is a self-aware translator. Spoilers: he’s at least semi aware.

All in all it was a good lecture on translation applied to fiction, and I really enjoyed it. Still not racing home to watch Episodes V & VI though. If lectures on popular culture sound like something you’d be interested in and you’re in Notts, the schedule can be found here. There’s vegan ethics in Doctor Who, zombie genomics and even more Star Wars. Happy geeking.