The Catacombs of Liverpool’s Darkest History at St George’s Hall – The Gangs of Victorian Liverpool

When: Saturday 27th February – Thursday 03rd March

How much: £15

On Monday night we were invited to a press viewing of ‘The Catacombs of Liverpool’s Darkest History’, the latest in a series of historical tours by Lovehistory of the catacombs beneath St George’s Hall.

However, just because there were pitted olives (pitted!) and alcohol on offer we won’t lie about whether it was bollocks.

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Re-opened in 2012 after more than a century’s silence, the catacombs give a glimpse into the savage and lawless world of Victorian Liverpool which sounds a lot like Concert Square on a Saturday.

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Samantha Walton having a barney with Lois Crawford

There’s the city’s gangs who spread violence around the likes of Scotland Road, many of whom just seem to get beaten up a lot.

Then there’s the true story of 13  year old Michael Burns, beaten to death by young gobshites on Christmas Eve 1883

And if you were enough of a divvy to get caught, you were brought before the judge in St George’s spectacular court; a proper one, not like off The Bill. Then you were chucked in a tiny cell still bigger than our bedroom in L1 – basically forever – or  possibly condemned to death (we were distracted by the actor’s synthetic green undies).

To be honest, Victorian Liverpool wasn’t THAT unlike 21st century Liverpool. There are still posh twats, whilst poverty forces people into hooking or robbing, and you might still get battered at the reduced section in Tesco.

We would have been made up to see a little more of the catacombs, and hopefully the stray Drench bottles will have been cleared before the public gets let loose in Victorian Liverpool. But it’s fascinating to see a darker side to Liverpool’s second-most celebrated building ( Eat4Less will rule throughout the ages).

A cross between Shiverpool and urbexing, ‘The Catacombs of Liverpool’s Darkest History’ is a boss way of straying from the beaten track and learning about Liverpool’s history beyond the Beatles, cos y’know, it did exist before then.

Tickets and further info can be found here.

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Burlesque & Bubbly

Burlesque & Bubbly is your tasteful alternative to the conventional hen party, all powder pink and rosé champagne to match your lipstick. Rather than just getting trashed, it’s an opportunity to learn flirty techniques, shake your tail feathers and become a strong empowered woman who don’t need no man (unless you’re the bride to be – don’t dump him on our account).

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Hosted by professional dancer/nutcase Rachael Mellor and based in Fonseca’s at the heart of gay town on Stanley St, it’s apt that her sessions should be sign posted with a rainbow.

Guests are encouraged to dress up in all their Ann Summers finery (not the crotchless pants) and will inevitably flap about tightening corsets (‘TIGHTER!!!’) and applying more of just about everything. It felt a bit like the girly sleepover we never had because nobody wanted to be our mate, and many bosoms were squeezed in admiration.

_DSC9721 copyThe event is tucked away in a cosy curtained basement away from prying eyes. After being greeted with a glass of fizz the hens prepare a special sentimental keepsake for the bride. Then it’s on to an activity to devise your own sassy burlesque persona involving the name of a first pet (ours was a cat called Ben so it didn’t really work).

cerdiauThe dance lesson involves learning five key burlesque techniques which are incorporated into a routine in which the bride takes centre stage. The song comes from the film Burlesque and the routine is simple, but champagne makes most people tipsy so they won’t notice you being crap anyway.

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Rachael and our gorgeous Aussie bride Barbie Von Possum who definitely should have been named Kylie Down Under.

Afterwards hens receive three glasses of wine each, and the opportunity to play with Rachael’s box of props so Facebook can see just how fit you can be and why on earth didn’t they see it before?

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We’d never been to a hen party before and literally lower our voice when uttering the word ‘penis’, so the thought of willy straws, willy piñatas and probably an actual well-oiled willy had us a bit scared.

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However, it’s a lovely alternative to the traditional hen do. Burlesque & Bubbly provides a safe environment to explore your sexuality away from the prying eyes of strange men, except for barman Niall who’s a bit strange in that he wasn’t paying us any attention. Gobshite.

It also isn’t strictly for hen parties. Finally turning 18 or 80? Just want to get together with the girls? Divorce finalised? It’s all good – various styles and themes are adaptable to your shindig.

Regular readers already know our take on burlesque; it’s not about what flesh you’re flashing, but what you aren’t. It’s about expressing another side to your personality through narrative and costume, and propping other women up with admiration and encouragement. It’s about being proud to expose your vulnerabilities.

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Rachael also runs weekly Jazz-Esque classes which fuse jazz routines and burlesque techniques. She’s a boss teacher and we’ve grown to consider her a close pal. She recognises that it’s all in good fun; that we aren’t all trained dancers and some people aren’t comfortable getting their knockers out (although we personally do it given any opportunity). Beginners classes start in March.

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Easy going and an all-round good egg, Rachael is supportive even when you’re rubbish and always has a massive grin. We know we’re biased, but Burlesque & Bubbly is a genuinely lovely event. There’s no penis paraphernalia in sight, and you might even learn a few moves to impress potential roosters. You’re guaranteed a clucking good time (sorry).

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Photography by Mina Bihi

 

Meet our Jazzesque sisters!

We’ve been part of the Liverpool-based Jazzesque troupe for around a year now. A fusion of jazz and burlesque dance, we have performed at various variety and burlesque events including the Secret Circus and Spare Rib.

Now there’s little more than a week to go until we give our take on the Postmodern Jukebox cover of Seven Nation Army, and most of us go down to tassels for the first time! Come see us kick off the Valentine’s festivities at The Secret Circus on February 13th, 9pm. Get down early for a seat!

Then in March there’s not one but TWO performances at Threshold Festival, and in June a showcase of all our work including debut solos.

Time you found out who the birds behind the boobs are, no?

 Scarlett Adelaide

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Meet Scarlett Adelaide, AKA Mandy. Scarlett represents her most notable, asset whilst Adelaide was the Christian name of her great aunt, also a dancer in the 40s.

An optical assistant, Mandy is the one who makes you stare at the hot air balloon then blows in your face like the monster she is and has heard her fair share of jokes about blowing old geezers in the dark.

Mandy is also an experienced alt model and has done shoots ranging from latex to pin-up for the likes of Lindy’s Boutique.

She has the sweetest, softest Scouse accent we’ve ever heard and almost makes wools sound sexy.

She loves a good rabbit (not that kind, ya filthy animals) and her big-eared baby is called Heisenberg. Her confidence has grown so much over the past months and we can’t wait for her Jessica Rabbit inspired act!

Zoe LaSparkle 

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Meet our little French Fancy! Justine, i.e. Zoe LaSparkle studied English at the University of Leeds, and was so good at it she never left the country.

Now a background actress, her latest project was Peaky Blinders.

Animal lover Justine also dabbles in photography and probably enjoys the Eiffel Tower (not to be confused with being Eiffel Towered) and baguettes.

Little Peaches

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Meet Little Peaches, all the way from Down Under.

Model and burlesque performer Kairi trained and competed as an Irish dancer after seeing a display on St Paddy’s Day when she was five (Aus has a decent scene – who knew?)
This talented possum has designed and made costumes, sets and props for theatre and film since the age of 16 and a film she made costumes for was actually short listed for the Cannes Film Festival.
She even makes steel-boned corsets, so no worries if she ever loses the model bod!

A serious medical diagnosis encouraged her to grip life by the bollocks and sign up for burlesque classes.

She got her start in the The Silk Stockings, an Aussie burlesque troupe. She was known as the clumsy awkward one and once kicked a shoe into someone’s dinner – they thought it was part of the act and lapped it up.

One of her most notable career moments involves being the support act for world renowned DJ Freq Nasty; she and a fellow dancer performed a duo in mud from a nearby croc infested swamp – our Kairi is dead exotic.

In her spare time you’ll find her scouring Camden market, often wearing her own reworked vintage outfits.

She’s allergic to practically everything, including latex (soz boys).

No, she doesn’t know Kylie.

Kairi is cute as a button and we’re happy she’s our neighbour (practically), and life will be a little less peachy when she goes away to become a henna artist and wife in Brighton after a whirlwind romance. Phew!

Sassy Violette

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Sassy Violette is a long time party girl and can-can queen. The phrase YOLO was probably invented for Teena, an ex punk rocker who had a full mohawk before shaving it off entirely and still wears a Levi’s 501 jacket she’s owned since 1981.

She started playing rugby aged 47 and loves her snowboarding but has yet to gain a certificate because she’s not so good at it. She’s set her house on fire twice and now has her eye on learning to fire dance. Her greatest ambition is to see the Aurora Borealis and she’ll never leave the house without factor 50 on her face (ginger person probs).

Our Teena has seen it all so is a wise but young at heart owl, although if any of us were gonna end up in jail we reckon it would still be her. However, she’s a right good egg and recently popped down to Calais to help those folks in need – nice one Teena!

Venus Von Trix

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Venus Von Trix AKA Lydia is an actor, dancer and performance artist who loves to create and devise new material, collaborating recently with Paperwork Theatre company to create Shortcut to Bliss.

A free spirit with a chaotic past, she’s ‘just tumbling through this amazing and overwhelming journey of self discovery’.

She has a long haired ginger Chihuahua called Coco and thinks men look fabulous in guyliner and glitter. She has a rubber fetish and loves latex.

In March she’ll be running 10k obstacle race Chain Runner whilst chained to another runner and then to work American summer camp.

When there’s time she loves to bake and make jams/pickles.

She loves nature and being outdoors away from the madness, it soothes the introvert in her.

She doesn’t really sit still and is a member of Fight Club, shhhh.

Venus has an intergalactic feel, living with captain Kronos somewhere between a black hole and the Andromeda galaxy. Venus is forever shaking her pulsar nipple tassels, bringing a little sparkle to dark matter!

Alex Spragg

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Alex, or Spraggs, is like Courtney Love’s better looking sister and from BOLTON!!! Yay!! (Nope there’s no way to make that sound good, sorry.)

A politics student who now hates politics, she did a year at the University of Bristol but wasn’t impressed by the cast of Made in Chelsea swanning about.

She loves cheese, punk and thinks 2pm in an early morning. Our favourite memory involves us trying to awaken the spirits with an Ouija board and Spraggs being quite socially awkward with it.

Lula Limonada

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Welsh girl Lula loves glitter and has never been sexually attracted to a sheep.

Leather Lacey 

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Pint-sized Jemima is the youngest member of our troop. The name Leather Lacey is inspired by a Stevie Nicks song, so she has pretty good taste considering she’d be forgiven for still liking 1D.

She loves mod fashion and Fred Perry, funk, every kind of tea and fringes, so her fave pinup is obv Bette Paige.

Her entire house is pinup themed with a rockabilly style kitchen diner.

She says ‘fabulous’ and ‘snazzy’ far too much, although she is both fabulous and snazzy so gets away with it.

Her modelling alter ego is Jacky Daniels.

She loves a drop of gin, probably because she hasn’t had enough time for a bad experience.

Alluring Alice

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Ally the model by day, Alluring Alice who’ll take you to Wonderland by night.

You’ll often find Ally strutting about on stilts and covered from head to toe in body paint at events.

Ruby Von Strudel

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Nicola is one of our newest recruits. She studied Creative & Performing Arts at university and it was there she began researching burlesque purely for her own needs as opposed to an assignment set by a subject tutor/lecturer after coming across it while studying dance and choreography in my first unit.

 More interested in researching burlesque than an assignment set by a tutor, she became fascinated having watched Dita Von Teese’s martini glass routine online.
She watched a burlesque show at the Bluecoat staged as part of Dadafest, a festival run by those with disabilities. It included Diva Hollywood who began performing 10 years ago after being diagnosed with MS, and she became well & truly bitten by the burlesque bug.
She came across Jazz-Esque and Ruby Von Strudel was born. Dealing with issues about body confidence and self-esteem via counselling, she credits Jazzesque for making a significant contribution. She herself is the Group Facilitator for a self-injury support group.
Her burlesque inspirations include Barbara Stanwyck in ‘Lady of Burlesque’ and Marilyn Monroe in ‘Ladies of the Chorus’.

Meg McFarlane

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Meg LOVES the forties when all that good stuff like Slinkys and WW2 happened.

On the subject of the forties, did you know rationing laws ordered the trimming of beachwear fabric by 10 percent, so designers introduced two-piece suits that exposed the midriff but covered the navel. Although the shrinking swimsuits were controversial among mainstream Americans, starlets and beach vacationing teenagers embraced the original version of the bikini.

Meg is an actor but prefers directing because she’s really quite bossy (her words not ours). She swears like a sailor but only because she’s so passionate about things/lacks self control.

She’s a film geek with a quote for every situation, especially Tarantino’s because most of them are full of swearing.

She loves dancing although her body disagrees.

‘In my head I’m like ginger Rogers. ..the outside just isn’t the case.’ Shut up Meg.

Ferrero Rochelle

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Rachael is our teacher and reminds us of a demented fairy.

Graduating with a degree in Dance Drama and Physical Theatre, she pursued a career in all three arts forms; ranging from touring pantomimes, dance shows covering a range of styles, and educational children’s theatre.

Ferrero Rochelle is both a performer and a choreographer. She runs her own company Rachael Mellor Dance, first and foremost teaching Jazz-Esque to “a wonderful and inspiring group of women” (aw, we know).

She has big plans for the dance troop this year as well as beginners classes for anyone who wants to be part of the fabulous Jazz-Esque gang.

Then there’s the contemporary dance where girls probably let out their inner Bush (Kate! You are just filthy today!), first wedding dances and hen parties.

Besides all that, she’s a film and television background actress and hosts princess parties as Elsa and was an entertainment host on the Disney Cruise Line. WHY wasn’t Elsa around to drown yet?

She also cooks a mean breakfast at 81 Renshaw (please only stalk if you plan on killing Elsa).

She loves a good flapper dress, Audrey and Marilyn.

And here are some retired sisters that we all miss…

Naffrodite

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Nobody quite knows who Naffrodite is. Reverse drag queen? Oedepian Freudian Frankenstein? Hostess of Romantic Horrors?

We tend to think of Frankii as one of the “movers and shakers” of Liverpool who has her mitts in many pots. She’s a compère and singer, hair stylist and performance artist, life model and event organiser.

Last year she shaved her head in aid of CALM in memory of a pal.

Jacqui Bevington

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What we love most about Jacqui is she’ll try absolutely everything once, be it burlesque or drum circles or fire dancing. It just isn’t the same without her.

Kayleigh Jayde

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It was short lived but we still consider her a sister. Good luck with your contemporary dancing!

Selina Dunne

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Selina is a proud mumma but also a twin, and we still hold out hope they’ll do a Cheeky Girls duet.

If you’re keen on shaking your tail feathers contact Rachael Mellor Dance for info on her new intake of beginner dancers starting March!

Winter Bouldering League and UV Night at the Climbing Hangar

When: March 11th, 6:30pm – 5am

Where: 6 Birchall St, Sandhills

We’ve visited indoor wall The Climbing Hangar for several years, and the entire time it’s been great with amazing staff and decent snacks and a bathroom with a SHOWER just in case you climb so hard you sweat i.e. never in our case.

Then, a couple of years ago, owner Ged had the bright idea of giving the place a glow in the dark makeover. Luminous handholds and art mysteriously appeared, whilst outdoors was developed into a BBQ area.

The winter bouldering league runs annually between October and March, so you’ve basically missed most of it, but not to worry! March 11th marks the end of Winter with the legendary UV night. You can climb on the night, or we suggest making a day of it so you’re less likely to fall on top of someone.

This is Ged being a rascal:

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We wanted to hear what he had to say for himself, and it was all so eloquent we couldn’t trim it down.

Climbing changed my life in a way I never imagined before I started it.  I was always rubbish at team sports and left school thinking I was crap at sport, so when I tried climbing and was good at it, despite being terrified of heights, I really enjoyed it.  Still though, I thought it was just another sport, albeit a funky one. 

One day I found myself waking up in a cave overlooking the sea into a glorious sunrise and we cooked bacon on the camp stove before climbing on the sea cliffs for the day.  I never knew something like this might happen in my life, a flame of ‘Oh my god this is amazing’ exploded in my chest. I quit my job as a chef in Bournemouth and moved to Scotland to work in the mountains.

Before climbing my friends were my age and like me in background and perspective.  Now immersed in climbing some friends were older than my parents, some younger than my little brother.  Some were minted, others poor, our politics were diverse and the conversation rich.

The broad church of climbing changed my horizons and what I was to expect from life which was in essence ‘Time not money.’ It feels we live in a world where often income, education, gender, politics etc. divide us, even most sports divide us on abilities like speed or endurance, but indoor climbing allows us to participate together, at our own level of challenge.

 This glorious aspect of indoor climbing means I get to do my favorite thing with my favorite people, it means mums get to climb with sons, daughters with grandads and so on.  I was inspired to bring this shared space to as many people as possible and to break down social barriers so we all start talking to each other again – naively perhaps – I hope this will contribute towards a fairer, kinder society.

‘I go to Awesome Walls’ you say? Well y’know what’s good about the Hangar? Bouldering walls aren’t very close to the sky so you’re much less likely to need the UV coffin Ged has attached to the wall (we don’t know why either – you’ll have to ask him).

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So, where did inspiration come for the UV parties?

Bringing art and new experiences into people’s lives is something that really excites me.  I was taken clubbing a few times in my early twenties and was stunned to discover that I liked dance music after being convinced that it was only the horrendous too loud to talk/trying to pull/trying not to get in a fight I grew up with.  People were nice, the music was good, the sound system didn’t give me tinnitus, there were chill out rooms for chatting, there was artwork and strobes and lasers! I always remember a man wearing a fish with a wavy tail as a hat…it was so colourful and loads of fun.  Best of all it was a surprise! 

UV night is a homage to those surprise nights out – I wanted to reinvent a familiar space, to take a crowd of climbers who were in the building to climb and get them climbing into a UV coffin on an overhang, swinging from fluorescent steel cubes swaying in space and basically being daft.  I was able to pool the creative talents of our customers for food, dance and fire performances, aerial silks, DJ’s and live bands, even the visuals!  Everyone was keen to get involved and make the event special – there’s nothing like collaborative work for inspiring creativity!  The night has grown every year and this year will see new creative action too – cannot wait!

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There will be prizes, fire and circus performers, a slackline, digital visuals by Meat Cassette, live music and DJs, food and a bar as well as some surprises. If that all gets a bit too much or you need a power nap there’s the pirate ship.

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It’s a really boss night and one of the highlights of our calendar. Everybody goes all-out, so stock up on your glow sticks and UV paint. Each year has sold out so grab a ticket from Eventbrite from February 8th, ranging from £5 to £20.

PS: No you aren’t allowed to climb drunk (they clocked onto that after the first event).
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#BeLovelyDay

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By Abby Boak

 

Sometimes I hate social media. But occasionally I utterly love it.

“Anyone free to give out free cookies with me next Saturday as part of #belovelyday?”

YES. Me! I’m in! Tell me a time and a place.

Saturday 23 January 2016 at the Brink in Liverpool, I met my friend in her lovely orange camper van. She’d baked over 300 gingerbread cookies to give out as part of Be Lovely Day 2016 and I volunteered to help (help to give them out; her baking skills are FAR superior!). We decided to drive a little, hanging out the window of her van, then park on Bold Street and walk up and down with our free, multi-coloured, sugary wares.

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Sally and I enjoyed ourselves and each others’ company, and marvelled at the wonderful city we live in. However, there was a concerning detachment from a large proportion of our fellow Scousers that became more apparent as time progressed. There were three categories of people we met; the open, the reticent and the closed.

Open people greeted us with joyous smiles and cries of “How lovely!”, “Thank you!”,
“What a great idea!”. They dove into the colourful array of gingerbreads with child-like abandon and kissed and hugged us freely. Mostly they were in small groups, and a high proportion were with children. There was the original sole wanderer who smiled and coyly thanked us, and one or two who were evidently down on their luck and needed a sugar fix (we insisted of course that they had extra).

Reticent people fell into two categories- those who wanted to say yes but needed a little cajoling, and those who were just sceptical. The former had that little twinkle in their eye – the one that said their minds were telling them “This is a situation I’ve never come across before and I need to be wary”, but their hearts were screaming “OH YEAH! FREE COOKIES!!!!!!!!!!! WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR???!!! Most of these were women, and many commented about their figures or what they had already eaten. With some gentle persuasion (read mild bullying) they smiled and conceded that these gingerbread were more than exceedingly good.

The sceptics were mostly men; “What have you put in them?”, “Are they laced?”, “What are you selling to me?”. Again, Sally and I spent a little while explaining what Be Lovely Day was and giving never-ending smiles and reassurances, and most of them ended up tasting her delightful biscuits.

However,  a fair few people had that reflex response of “NO”, looking straight down at the pavement and scurrying along, or even after our patient explanation still were too wary to partake in the lovely gesture.

I’d like to state for the record that I am not judging those people who did not take our goods – everyone is on a different path, and for all I know, there could have been extremely urgent and pressing things they had to do.

It is more that I am concerned for them, for us as a race, for our beautiful city. It reminded me of the disconnect that our modern world creates between people. People are generally too wary of talking to others, people are pressured, people are too cut off, too isolated and have too much going on in their own heads to be fully open to experiencing what is actually going on around them.

One of the criticisms of Be Lovely Day is that you should be lovely EVERY day. Whilst I agree in principle, this little outing gave me a real insight into why we need opportunities to do kind things for strangers (or indeed people we do know) for no ulterior motive than being kind.

The more random acts of kindness that happen to a person, the more open they will be to realising that their fellow humans are just like them, trying not to suffer, searching for happiness, and wanting to find meaningful human connections in their day to day lives.

So go out, spread the word, and feel free to be the lovely person that you are!

 

Riverside Rebels “fresh meat” course

When: Sunday January 31st 6pm

Where: New Ferry Village Hall

The Riverside Rebels are opening their doors for a free roller derby taster session to mark a new intake of fresh meat over an eight week course.

We know we agreed to try everything once, but we meant everything except this because roller skates are the most terrifying invention ever. We’ve crashed our car three times so wheels really don’t agree with us.

Roller derby involves two teams of five skaters competing to score points by overtaking each other on a flat track. If nobody breaks a bone, even better.

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Newbies are provided with skates and safety equipment but there’s limited availability so booking beforehand is essential. Extra info can be found on their Facebook.

 

Don’t Tell the Bride

‘Do you, Gobshite, take this Boss Bird to be your awful wedded wife?’
‘G’wan then.’

Don’t Tell the Bride is looking for Scousers to create comedy gold. Couples will receive £14,000 – that’s £2000 more than the last series – to spend on their big day.

The only condition is that the bloke must organise EVERYTHING, i.e. make sure the bride wants to rip his bollocks off for our entertainment. If he knows what’s good for him, he’ll spend that 14 grand on a gown by Thelma Madine.

To apply visit the Renegade Pictures website. It’ll be a laugh.