Men wearing skirts

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Man in mini skirt and heelsMen wearing skirts…

There are many reasons why men choose to wear clothing that is conventionally regarded as gender specific aka “women’s clothes”. For me it is three things: pushing my personal comfort zone by doing things that people are scared of, being a performer acting out  a role to provoke a reaction and because I like it: women’s clothes are more interesting than men’s. I am secure in my own identity. I am a man and I like women. I’m not threatened by what other people choose to do.

I wear conventional male clothes for the majority of my time. Dressing up is something I do when I feel like it. It does give me a thrill and often leaves me feeling really calm due to overcoming the apprehension that you would expect when going out in public looking unusual.

man wearing a tutuDressing in “women’s clothes” is seen as funny, bizarre, weird or “gay” by some people. Generally this is their own insecurity or lack of awareness. When I discovered that  I liked trying on different clothes I decided that I wasn’t going to hide it as a guilty secret. Cross dressing is very common and the sexual orientation of those that do it exactly matches the population as a whole. But for many it’s still something that they feel ashamed of. They are worried about the reaction they will receive. I can understand that. There are those who struggle to understand it. I’m in the fortunate position of having friends who enjoy it and encourage me. I also believe that some people need provoking or confusing. if they think I’m gay and that’s a problem for them then that’s for them to worry about.

Man wearing a dress.

Normal day in the office.

I’m not a proper cross dresser in that I’m not trying to pass myself off as a woman. I fit more into the category of alternative fashion if you can call it that. I’m not expressing an alternative sexuality. I’m just me wearing clothes that I like and making myself a stronger person and, hopefully, bringing more fun to the world.

There’s quite a few groups on Facebook (men’s fashion freedom) and Pinterest (men in mini skirts).

Man wearing tights and a skirt.

I’m very fond of these shoes.

Since I’ve been doing this I’ve discovered that some women love to see men wearing tights, skirts and tutus. It’s a mixture of admiring the confidence to do it, which I was told by one was very attractive. I was told by another that every since David Beckham wore a sarong she’d discovered a thing for seeing men in skirts “as long as they’re tight”. So I suppose women like skirts for the same reason men do. It’s great when a woman tells you that you have great legs. It’s a crime to hide them in trousers.

This all started when I went to Shambala Festival in 2015 and Friday had a theme of cross dressing. Festivals like Shambala really embrace alternative looks and just doing things without asking too many questions. I was pretty cool about the idea and someone lent me a dress, tights and painted me with some over the top make up. I discovered that I didn’t like it; I loved it. Liking this new adventure lead me to buying myself a lovely tutu from Fairylove. It’s still my best tutu and I’ve enlarged my collection since then.

I decided that I’d tool up with some proper shoes and clothes for Shambala 2016. That set me off on a path of looking for suitable shoes.  For me that meant some tasteful block heels in size 10.  I looked on Amazon, Ebay and a brilliant site: Aliexpress. This blog was very useful too: www.domesticsluttery.com/2012/04/ultimate-size-9-13-shoe-guide.html from there I found Long Tall Sally who have a website and a range of shops round the UK.

I’ve found that you can buy up to size 12 if you search around hard enough. Sometimes you have to search for “plus size shoes” and go through every result to see what sizes they offer. Shoe sizes are not properly standardised so you have to take your chances on fit.

Man wearing skirt in shopping centre

Hello Bristol.

My challenge of putting together my outfit meant that I spent hours looking at skirts, tights and shoes and got really excited when I found things that I liked. It provoked an artistic part that found some colours and shapes very attractive and appealing. I’ve gradually accumulated shoes, tights, leggings and skirts. It didn’t really have any agenda other than wanting an outfit for Shambala and then being drawn into the wonderful possibilities. Then when I had a large collection I thought “what am I going to do with this lot, I might as well wear some of it”.

I’ve worn a skirt and a dress to my workplace for fancy dress days. The reaction I received was a lot more muted then expected. After about 5 minutes the novelty was over for the majority. “My, you’ve got great legs” said one man, echoed by a woman later. I’m really pleased. A photographer got really excited and took photos.

Man wearing sequin skirt

Trying these leggings out.

Amongst my other adventures I’ve been shopping for skirts in a department store. I felt a bit nervous about that. After looking through racks of skirts for 20 minutes I became more calm about it as no one seemed at all interested in what I was doing. I asked the shop worked if they had something I wanted in my size. They were totally unphased by it. For them it’s another possible sale and I’m sure they see it regularly. When you walk out of an experience like that you feel more confident about everything in your life.

Recently I went shopping in the city centre in tights, a short skirt and some kitten heel shoes. The longer I was out then the more calm I became and after about an hour I started to feel an elevated state of mind. I’d say that almost a half didn’t notice, the majority looked but didn’t seem to bothered and a few said things or giggled. Really, if giggling is the strongest reaction then there’s nothing to worry about. I asked passers by to take photographs of me. This is a good thing to do – if you directly approach people then you help overcome the apprehension. It’s almost a matter of pointing at yourself making your more confident.

Man wearing a dress.

I prefer skirts to dresses.

To go out in public you have to own the situation. You have to decide that you’re cool about it and then go out and be cool. It’s actually a lot of fun and you will feel stronger for it. You will find acceptance in unusual places and when someone genuinely compliments you it’s a buzz.

One day we’re all going to be dead. When we look back we’ll decide that things we were afraid of weren’t important. I want to get on with doing things in my life, whatever they are and however silly they seem. I’ve already had a lot of fun with this new journey and I’ve no idea where it’s taking me.

I’ve stared a Facebook page for my dressing up sessions.

Some inspiration:

Bloco Dos Sujos

Bloc Dos Sujos samba bristolBloco Dos Sujos is a Brazillian percussion bateria based in Bristol UK. It was formed in 2014 by Paul Baxter who was also a founder of Ziriguidum. Paul described the concept as a simple idea: “play samba properly”. I went to introductory sessions with the band on Thursdays in October through to December and the playing was inspiring. It felt relaxed and fluid and at the same time it was really tight. A good drug. Bloco Dos Sujos facebook page.

Many people in the UK associate the term “samba band” with a group of percussionists who generally play a range of styles to build a set. A drumming bateria is one part of the whole machine and usually joined by singers and a cavaquinho player (a small guitar type instrument) as well as dancers. Bloco Dos Sujos concentrate on playing the arrangements and songs of Rio samba. As some people say: “they just play samba”. There are many variations of the samba style that are generally named after the main samba schools in Rio that originated them.

This video is from a performance at No1 Habourside in Bristol in December 2015. The band were joined by singer Xavier Osmir and cavaquinho player Adriano Dias.

I took these photographs without flash using a Canon G1X. It was very dark in the venue so I was running a very high ISO level. I’m still impressed with the results this camera can produce.

Picton Street Fayre

Picton Street Fayre poster 2015The Picton Street Fayre is a street fair and music festival held near the centre of Bristol in Decemeber. The event is advertised via the Picton Street facebook page.

I was there to perform with the African Sambistas. I had some time to look around since we were playing last on the bill. I caught the end of the The Longest Johns vocal group on stage. They were followed by the Bristol swing dancers. I’m actually a world record holder in the field of swing dancing. Well, I took part in the world record for the largest group dancing jive on the street. Before we went off to prepare I watched the entertaining Jelly Roll.

When we returned to Picton Street with the band and dancers it was dark and the crowd were ready for us. Everyone in a band will tell you that they go through all the toil that goes on behind the scenes because they are chasing the high that they experience when performing to a good crowd. Picton Street didn’t let us down. The energy was there and the African Sambistas finished the year on a high.

Thank you to Paul Phillips for the video and photos (some photos here by Tom).

Picton street fayre

Picton street fair

The African Sambistas rehearse on Wednesday evenings in Easton, Bristol. New members are always welcome. No experience necessary, come along and have a go. African Sambistas are also on Facebook and Twitter.

Pyle Pro PDJ480UM review

Pyle Pro PDJ480UM review.

Pyle Pro PDJ480UM review

The PDJ480UM is a twin digital music player and mixer combined into a compact rack mount unit. I bought one of these to do a live ambient music mix. I found it via Amazon where it had good reviews. PDJ480UM user manual.

This is a great piece of kit in many ways and was ideal for my needs. It has one major flaw that makes it unsuitable for serious beat matching.

The unit is mains powered. There are phono connections on the back for the external inputs and a gain selector for each one to choose between phono or standard levels.  There’s two phono outputs on the back, one for the main amplifier and one for recording from. There’s full size jack sockets for headphones and microphone on the front.

The mixer is well thought out. It has gain, bass and treble for each side. In the middle are master gain, headphone gain and mic gain. A cue switch allows the headphones to select one of the two channels. There are selector switches for each side to allow a choice between external inputs or the digital players.

The two digital decks are completely independent of each other and don’t share USB/SD cards. They read the cards quickly. A single push/rotate button is used to navigate and select tracks. Pushing this also toggles between folder and track selection. It took a little while to get used to this.

Pylepro pdj480um

View from the yoga mat

The folder order confused me at first. The folders are listed in the order that you downloaded them to the card. If that was alphabetical and then you decided to add some more folders then they will appear at the end unless you wipe and reload the whole card. Sub folders are listed in the main list as if they were top level folders.It’s best not to go more than 1 folder deep in the file structure.

I find the speed with which the full file name scrolls across the screen is too slow. I edited my file names to make the first 10 digits or so enough to work out the whole track to work round this.

When a track is selected then it’s loaded up at the start point. The jog wheel can be used in “jog” model to navigate through the track. Jog works best if the track is paused, otherwise it’s too slow. It’s not easy to jump forwards and backwards quickly in a track; there’s no back to start button. It sets the cue point at the point where you release the deck from being paused. I found this confusing at first and not always ideal. Pressing the cue button will pause the track back at the cue point.

Pylepro mixer and digital playerThe pitch slider range can be set to +/- 4,8 or 16% or off completely by holding the button down. There are pitch bend buttons beneath the slider. This is the same function and rotating the jog wheel when not in “jog” or “scratch” modes.

The loop works quite well with simple “in”, “out” and “reloop” buttons.
The “single” button means that the unit stops at the end of the track. The “time” toggles the time display between elapsed and remaining time. There is also a progress bar showing in the screen.

Brake cause the track to slow to a halt. It also causes a track to come up to speed from a halt if you start it with brake on. Reverse works well, though it won’t work in a loop.

The scratch is OK but its behaviour when you let go isn’t that impressive if the track is in play mode.

The biggest let down on this unit is that the pitch steps are too coarse for accurate beat matching. With the +/-16% range it goes in 1% steps and with +/-8% and +/-4% it goes in 0.5% steps. These are too large and the main reason I’m looking to move towards a higher spec unit.

Overall it’s a loveable unit with a few limitations. If you want to mix music without beat matching on a budget then it’s a great piece of kit.

I’m a man with painted nails

Barry M caspian nail paint

Barry M caspian. Gold from some angles, a bit pink from others. Hot.

For the last few months I’ve been a man with painted nails.

It all started at Shambala festival when I used nail paint as part of dressing up for a performance with The African Sambistas. I really liked the look of the Barry M Turquoise so I left it on when I returned to work after the festival.

On the Wednesday evening a good friend of mine told me that she was going to “touch me up” which turned out to be putting a darker blue over the top which I liked even more. That was followed by a glitter top coat on the Saturday just for the hell of it.

Reactions have varied. Some women love it. The receptionist at the hair dressers declared them to be “really cool”. I had a similar reaction from a check out worker at my local supermarket who spotted them and said “I love those nails” causing a detailed conversation about colours. That’s happened a few times. From women I’d say that about 95% of the comments have been positive. A few really hate it, saying it looks wrong on “big man hands”. A surprising number of men have liked the look. A guy in the pub said “I love those nails”. I said reactions had been mixed and he said “it depends if if you’ve ever been to a festival or not I suppose”. Without any doubt it has been a great conversation starter with a variety of people which is no bad thing.

Max Factor shocking blue

Max Factor shocking blue with Barry M glitter dust. I prefer it without glitter.

There are those who struggle to cope with the idea. Some look and then look away, often with a confused expression. The empowering thing is realising that it’s all their problem. Once you have that mind set you can enjoy watching the confused people.  As a colleague said to me “people have been painting their bodies for thousands of years it’s nothing new”. The only person who challenged me was another work colleague in a meeting who said “of course the next big question is what colour Tom’s going to paint his nails next week”. I replied that I had a team of people working on it (which is true).

I had a really amusing moment in a shop where I caught a woman look at my hands, then my head and then back at my hands and then look confused.

Max Factor shocking blue nail paint

Max Factor shocking blue. Green from some angle, blue from others.

My mother said with a laugh that “it’s horrible” and my father said ironically “you ponce”. I’m a heterosexual male by the way, totally at ease with my sexuality and happy to explore and express myself in whatever way I find interesting. I’m not trying to look like a woman. I’m a man decorating my body because I like it.

Man with painted nails.

His and hers nails.

My motivation for doing it is a mixture of things. On one level I get really excited by the colours. I really like duo tone metallics and sparkly top layers. I spend hours looking on the internet and in shops for new colours. I enjoy the time spent putting the paint on. Not only the final result but the relaxation time spent focussing on putting it on (base coat, colour coats, top coat).  It can be strangely good for your confidence and happiness to stride out with a slightly unusual look. It’s made me push some inhibitions out of the way and become more positive and happy as a result. If there’s a positive reaction then that’s a real boost. Other times if you sense people being uneasy about the look then it’s good to focus on your own inner coolness.

There’s a slight streak of exhibitionism involved for me, a bit of circus and a bit of punk. I’ve used those positives as a foundation for my confidence. People find confidence attractive. You can draw a lot of good energy from people who genuinely like the look or the idea. Those who are negative will gradually fall away from you and it’s no loss for yourself.

Barry M mediterranean nail polish

Barry M mediterranean. Pink and metallic at the same time.

I’ve tried a variety of colours so far and I haven’t been trying to stick to safe, “male” colours. The only rule is that I have to like the colour and be excited by it. Colours don’t have a gender. If they did then light blue would be more feminine than a strong pink; pink was a very male colour once. The strongest pink colour I’ve tried has had the biggest positive reaction from men! It is a very dark, almost purple metallic, Max Factor Diva Pink. Great name.

In the early days I found buying nail paint in shops more intimidating than wearing it on my nails which clearly isn’t logical! Ebay and Amazon are a solution to that problem if it bothers you. I’ve persevered with public shopping though and my confidence has grown. No one really takes any notice of you when browsing and the longer you hang round then the more relaxed you become. Superdrug is one of the best places.

Max Factor pink diva nail paint

Max Factor pink diva. It looks more metallic in real life. Great reaction to this one.

I’m very lucky in that I mix with a lot of open minded and positive people. That definitely makes trying new things like this a lot easier. You definitely need some positive feedback and support to continue. If I received outright hostility then it would become a fight and that would be an energy drain. But then, supporters can be found in unexpected places.

I went paint free for a week, thinking that maybe my interest had died down. When I started out with the next colour and excitement built with how it looked then I realised I was as hooked as before. I do go without for a few days every week or two but I feel strangely boring without the paint. I think I like the attention. I’ve amassed 20 bottles since I started and keep finding more colours.

A quick google search shows that I’m not alone.

Nail paint collection

Nail paint collection

If you have any fears about the reaction then I would recommend working on your devious, naughty inner laugh. You’ve got to go out there with a confidence and enjoy the reaction. Those who make an issue out of it are insecure and that’s their problem. Do it. Post up the pictures too.

Man with painted nails

Bristol Sanctum closing night

November has been all about Bristol Sanctum for me. I’ve played there three times with the African Sambistas, twice as Tommy Tutu, had a go for “Fuck the house band” and I could claim my 7th appearance at the closing night. I’ve also visited four times. All the posts are listed in my November archive:

I was at a rehearsal for Afon Sistema for most of the day on Saturday. I managed to make it to Sanctum for 5.40 pm and knew it was closing at 6pm. At the door the security man recognised me from the samba band and said “go through the side door”. I walked in with a drum and joined the band Count Bobo. This means that I was there at the end and I can claim to have performed there 7 times. I’m not counting or anything.

Sanctum Bristol closing

Final moments at Sanctum Bristol

Count Bobo Bristol

Part of Count Bobo

There was a sizeable crowd inside and Count Bobo created a piece that rose in intensity for ten minutes to reach a frenzied climax at 6pm. This received a massive cheer and round of applause. And that was it, the party was over.

 

On the way out the security man told me that Sanctum had really changed him. That’s great to hear. For me, Sanctum has shown just how many people are out there working on their performances and that a receptive audience exists, it just needs the right place to come together. Definitely, after playing with “Fuck the house band” I realised that anyone could start a band, it’s just a matter of getting on with it. The details like working out how to play can come later.

I loved Sanctum. Well done to SituationsUK for making Theaster Gate’s vision happen.

Sanctum Bristol on Tumblr

Friday afternoon at Sanctum Bristol

I called in to Sanctum Bristol just after midday on Friday 20th November. This was day 23 out of the 24 that it runs for. There was a queue but people were being rotated every 20 minutes so we didn’t have to wait for long.

Inside I caught the candomble singing and drumming of Alafia. I know almost everyone who was performing from Afon Sistema or Bloco Dos Sujos, both bands that I’m involved with.

Alafia

Alafia

Next up were “Fuck the house band” who have the rules:

  • Anyone can be in the house band
  • You don’t need to know how to play an instrument
  • No covers
  • No rehearsals

After their first song they said “we need a new band, who wants to play?” and got people from the audience to form a new band. “Drums! All you have to do is hit them”. A woman volunteered but said “I’ve never played the drums before.” They said “Good”. I had a go on guitar for one song and bass for another. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing but I did it anyway and it was exhilarating. I can claim this as my 6th performance at Sanctum. I’ve played three times with the African Sambistas, done two ambient dj sets in the early hours as Tommy Tutu and now this. I’ve also visited three times before.

Energy levels and spirits were lifted during the hour of punk play.

Fuck the house band - all volunteers

Fuck the house band – all volunteers

That's me playing bass.

That’s me playing bass. Photo: Hannah Sullivan

Finally I caught the start of a set by James Morton and Jonny Henderson. They explained that they were going to take the opportunity of having a focussed audience and really play some emotional music.

James Morton and Jonny Henderson

James Morton and Jonny Henderson

Ambient dj mix at Sanctum Bristol

Sanctum Bristol ambient DJI played two ambient DJ sets in the early hours at Sanctum Bristol. I performed three times with the African Sambistas and we were offered some extra slots but the times didn’t suit a band of ten people. I have a large collection of ambient music and electronica and I thought the early hours would be an ideal time to present it to some new people. I was partially inspired by the Robert Rich sleep concerts.

I appeared under my alter ego of Tommy Tutu, a name created for me by my friends after my new found love of tutus and dressing up in skirts and dresses in general. Shambala festival started it. I’ll have to tell you about it, it’s been a very positive part of my life, destroying a load of inhibitions and making me a very happy person as a result.

I spent a long time compiling tracks from my collection, a process that became frenzied as every time I found one track it set off several other ideas for things I had to put into the collection. I ended up with enough music to probably fill 10 hours. Some of these tracks go back 25 years for me and I’ve spent a lot of the last few years doing home yoga to ambient pieces. It was fairly simple to think of tracks that I really wanted to play. I also wanted to put some songs into the mix and maybe even some pop songs from the 80s, but only if they meant something to me.

PylePro PDJ480UM

I had a good think about how I would try to structure the set and wrote some notes on pieces of paper in case I lacked inspiration when I was at Sanctum. I also made two tracks of my own for the event, the main one being the ambient toilet flush. I bought a semi-pro twin mp3 player and mixer and learnt how to use it over the weekend. I spent so much time preparing that I didn’t really stop to think about the slightly daunting responsibility of filling Sanctum with sound.

My first set was 3am to 5am on Tuesday 17th November. On Monday night I performed with Afon Sistema at the Transforms event and didn’t make it to bed until 11 pm and I was back up at 1.30 am to prepare.

I wasn’t expecting a large crowd in the early hours and when I arrived DJ Guevara was performing to the sound man and stage manager. I’d brought my own captive audience of one with me. My attitude was that if I made one person happy with my set then it would be worth it.

The comedy of arriving in a tutu and heels and having a totally sensible conversation about cables and equipment didn’t escape me. Hey, I’m an artist. Dressing up is great fun, I think it’s becoming addictive.

Things got off to a surprising start when three new people appeared who wanted to dance. So I pulled some of the tracks with beats out of the bag. This meant that I hadn’t even started the ramp down towards full ambient mode until about 45 minutes in. Time just flew by and I was enjoying myself. The highlight for me was chanting along to dead can dance – Devorzhum. Watching the reaction to the ambient toilet flush was fun and as the crowd grew a bit and changed towards the end I played it again.

View from the yoga mat

View from the yoga mat

After seeing some of the amazing musicians at Sanctum I felt a little bit of a fraud sitting there playing mp3 tracks. I was sat on a yoga mat right in front of the audience and I had no equipment to hide behind. But this felt honest; I really was a man in a tutu playing mp3s. I hoped they would appreciate the music for what it was. I wasn’t creating it, I was selecting it. I had my first feelings of apprehension towards the end when several people were sat in chairs looking at me!

The biggest moment for me was after I’d finished when a man stood up and shouted “well done Tommy Tutu” and caused a cheer and a round of applause.

I played from 3.50 until 5 am the following morning to a different crowd. The first half was to an almost empty room so I had some fun mixing up some extra beats that I’d brought along in case there was more dancing. The highlight was again the chanting where I felt with some vocal input I was slightly more of a performer.

By the end of the second set I was just plain tired and relieved that it was over. I’d pushed my luck with the lack of sleep in doing two consecutive days. It was still a real buzz to have a positive reaction from people who were there. I’d love to do more in the future, maybe the early hours at a festival.

It was a great opportunity to appear at Sanctum. The Worm Disco Club also played an early hours DJ mix. See the November archive for a full list of Sanctum posts.

Ambient toilet flush

Ambient toilet flush: I was reading a review of Sanctum Bristol where a reporter had spent almost 24 hours there (I was there on the same night for a while). In the review the reporter described a “mix of noises which range from birdsong to toilets flushing”. “It’s just me here at this point. And this is not what I need. Thankfully it’s a short hour (yawn) until the next live act”.

The sound source

The sound source

The performer, Laura Denning was not happy and commented beneath the article with “Thanks! NOT. That a sonic piece I created called Underheard and no toilets flush anywhere within the piece”.

The idea of an artist having to deny that there were not any toilets flushing or not within their piece amused me. I’d also been offered a 2 hour slot in the early hours for an ambient music mix. I decided that I would make my own ambient piece based only on the sound of a toilet flushing. The joke was  only the start, from that point on it was an artistic process.

I recorded the sound of the last drops of a wee and a flushing the toilet at the city academy in Bristol using my mobile phone. Back home at 11pm I imported the sound track into Audacity which is freeware editing software. I took the basic sounds and added progressively more effects such as pitch stretches, speed changes and multiple echoes. The process was very much trial and error as I tried things until I found interesting sounds and then copied and manipulated them. Towards the end I deleted well over half of what I’d created in order to make the track less cluttered.

Audacity

Audacity is a great piece of software.

I was working to a deadline and had the track completed by 4am. I found the creative process very enjoyable and I’m pleased with the final result. I believe that it stands up on its own artistic merit.

I played the track at about 4am on Tuesday morning at Sanctum. A friend of mine was there in the audience and said that the facial expressions were amusing as some people realised what they were listening to.

As featured in The sound of a toilet flushing on Bristol 24/7.

The African Sambistas at Sanctum Bristol

The African Sambistas made our third appearance at Sanctum Bristol on Friday 13th November. This was the largest and most enthusiastic audience that we’d experienced since our first two visits. We were scheduled to play for 45 minutes but the next act was late so we actually played for an hour.

Anyone in a band will probably tell you that the high from a successful performance is what keeps them going. It offsets the effort that goes into turning up for rehearsals every week, the travel, the waiting around and moving equipment.

That’s me at the front in the image below.

We’ve been featured in two videos from the performance that night.    

There’s some great sketches of us from Janiceshanice123

The African Sambistas are also on Facebook and Twitter.

With all that in the bag we went to the Plantation to watch Ilu Axe perform.

Theaster Gates Bristol: The Sanctum project in the early hours

Theaster Gates Sanctum BristolTheaster Gates Bristol: The Sanctum project is a space with performances 24 hours a day for 24 days. I called round at 5am on a Tuesday morning. This was my third visit to watch (read about the previous visit) and I’d performed there with the African Sambistas the previous week.

When I arrived the Worm Disco Club were mixing a set of ambient weirdness and distorted sounds. They were followed by Jonni Slater who I also saw on the opening night. He wasn’t using his sequencer this time, instead it was just him playing the piano and singing and then swapping to guitar. He was joined by the clarinet from The Mandalas during the handover. I watchd the Mandalas for half an hour before having to leave for work.

African Sambistas at Sanctum Bristol

African Sambistas at Sanctum BristolAfrican Sambistas at Sanctum Bristol. We performed twice this weekend. I’d visited the venue twice before to watch.

On Friday we followed on from the Bristol Reggae Orchestra with a 30 minute slot. The hand over took almost ten minutes due to the number of players and instruments that needed moving. No problem, we were on full power right from the start and projected the energy down the building and out in the queue outside. The sound in the building was impressive. It was a real joy to play there.

On Saturday it was different. Our regular musical director, Jordan from Bath Samba, was not available. I was responsible for directing the band and we had an hour to fill. I was both excited and apprehensive. My previous experience has been playing on streets or carnivals where the crowd come and find us. Here I felt that we were more like exhibits in a museum, being studied as a live piece of art.

Sanctum Bristol dancers

We had a fun crossover with Lonely Tourist who was on before us. He had a bass kick pedal which was loud enough to give a solid pulse for us to add percussion to without drowning him out.

I was really keen that we could really get into the grooves and create a hypnotic effect. I also wanted to project to the crowd the energy, excitement and joy that comes from playing in a percussion group. Not everyone enjoys drumming bands due to the high noise levels and frenetic nature of it. If you are into it then there’s a music that lies inside the grooves that can transport you to a state of bliss. That’s why we do it!

I was really happy with how it went. Between us we put a day’s worth of energy into an hour and the audience response was positive. They clapped, they cheered, I’ve seen that some are smiling in the photographs.

We’re back for one more session in the future. I’m also planning on visiting in the early hours to see if I can discover some new sounds.

Situations Bristol | Sanctum blog on Tumblr | Sanctum Bristol website | “My (almost) 24 hours at Sanctum”