Friday, 26 November 2010

Rioting in Camber.

Now I haven’t been away on a weekend thingy for a long time and when I did it almost definitely involved The Cure, tents, trying to look gothic in the rain and too much cider. Now my dotage approaches I regard the idea of tents with horror. And the festivals of today with a few exceptions are full of childish badly dressed people and corporate to the nth.  For the past few years I’ve been tempted by the ‘weekender’.  This has several advantages over its skanky festival cousin. It generally involves chalets, toilets and facilities (never underestimate the importance of ‘facilities’). More pointedly whether car, sixties, Northern Soul or discofied they are focused and tend to attract a more committed kind of attendee.

Sadly there is, as yet, no weekender for the thirties or forties fan inspired by music and style (rather than re-enactment). I like the ‘Home Front’ stuff, it just isn’t my idea of a weekend of fun. Perhaps it is the military hardware, and the ghosts. The next best thing for me is the fifties, and fortunately that period is well served by weekenders with Hemsby and the Rockabilly Rave amongst others.  Additionally the music is likely to be  good, the cars are actually interestingly decorative and my collection of tatty fortiesish clothing might just about past muster.  So last weekend I found myself revisiting the scene of many a childhood away- day: Camber Sands. Or rather, Rhythm Riot at Pontins in Camber Sands.  I’d been wanting to go to this for years, partially because I knew some nice people who go, the best sign you can have of quality and partially because Lady Luck have a night and people like Top Shelve Jazz were playing so I knew there was crossover with the scene I am perhaps more used to.  I was sharing with two friends I’d known for a while and a couple I hadn’t met before (who turned out to be complete stars).

Once there it was clear that this had something of a reunion about it, people clearly came every year and were in the know (torches for the bootsale as the room is so dark). There were also contingents who had travelled from other parts of the globe.  The Dutch contingent were very unimpressed with their accommodation but in our case the doom laden tales of cat pee scented chalets and dirt proved unfounded: the chalet was warm, clean and comfortable enough. Perhaps because we’d opted for the ‘luxury’ option. 

The journey down was fun, how nice to be surrounded by victory rolls, quiffs and red lippy and be in the majority for once. Pontins was already full when we arrived of wonderful old cars ready to cruise through Rye on the Sunday. I was very struck by the atmosphere, it was strongly redolent of a school trip, perhaps that is because I remember South East London’s school kids descending on Butlins out of season. Except the trippers were older, carrying cans of beer around and festooning their chalets with lines of washing and the decoration du jour: bunting. I was particularly impressed by the tower of popaddoms in one of our neighbours chalets, and it is clear that some were serving as impromptu mini party venues.  This amiable atmosphere continued through a weekend of incessant music, d.j.ing ,vintage bargain hunting and dancing en masse. Due to illness I hadn’t been able to brush off my dancing shoes and learn enough to join in but watching was good enough. It was a chance to catch up with a few friends and put faces and characters or to names heard or friends previously only encountered on line. The weekend included a walk on the beach, dinosaur shooting, air hockey, trying to re-learn the stroll, rooting through tables of bric a brac (sorry ‘vintage collectables’) eating dirty fried chicken and listening to a wide range of R&B (the real thing), bluesy, rocking, country, swing sounds. I also learned what figging is, although I could have done without that….

As a newbie I hadn’t known what to expect but the Rhythm Riot exceeded my expectations on the sheer laugh factor.  It is easy for things attended by devotees to have an element of cliquishness or exclusivity but the Rioters where clearly there for the music and the cars and the company. If I had been able to dance and had not been such a semi-invalid it would have been even better. How expensive it is depends on you really, I wish I had had more money to spend in the vintage and repro market or to get  Miss Betty to style my hair (you know you are onto a winner when your hairdresser is also there) but generally it was as inexpensive or expensive as you chose. Pontin’s is sadly going into administration although the rumour is that the Riot is fine for next year, and hopefully many years after that. This blog is illustrated with assorted photos from the weekend.

 















14 comments:

ReeRee Rockette said...

Makes me miss Viva Las Vegas....the Rockabilly event I went to in April in Vegas. Loved being surrounded by so many people who looked fabulous!

Miss Matilda said...

wow, looks fine! Thanks for the write up xx

Helen Highwater said...

Oooh, fab write up! Yes, I do hope Pontin's is safe for next year because I rather think I might go again. There's a rumour that Camber Sands Pontin's might be saved because it makes a lot of money with all the weekenders it hosts.

Clearly, there is little money to be made in family holidays, but rather a lot when you have adults who drink rather a lot (and drink rather a lot without, despite the name, actually rioting).

(EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEKKKKKK!!!! IT'S MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!! sorry, it's weird seeing pics of me in someone else's blog!)

RedlegsinSoho said...

I thought that photo of you on your own in your new hat was rather fetching! x

Retro Chick said...

Ah, I want to go to this, but it's proved far too expensive so far. Maybe I will save up/win the lottery/earn some money I don't spend before I even have it and go next year!

eightball said...

great photos(apart from my expression, which was clearly that of someone un-used to partying for 3 nights in a row!)...
good weekender though, it's all true.

Helen Highwater said...

I think it's the hat. It's a hat of intense marvellousness.

Dolly said...

Glad you enjoyed it! I never ever want the weekend to come to an end and was very sad to return to 'reality' this year! Mind you - thank goodness we weren't there this weekend - I literally think we would all be found frozen in our chalets sometime next spring! brrrr!

I had a great time - met lots of interesting people, danced with the husband to a piano solo that went on approximately 12 minutes, and had a fantastic cream tea in Rye!

Top marks on all fronts - would just have liked a pillow that wasnt quite so soggy when I crawled into my damp bed in the wee hours each morning!

LandGirl1980 said...

Exactly the kind of review I needed! I was worried about clickyness (i know that is spelt wrong) so it is nice to hear that there seems to have been none of that. Most definitly on my list of "to do's" for next year :)

WDI said...

Oh, I had assumed by your blissful whimpers that you had enjoyed your introduction to figging immensely. Young Torquil and I had spent hours whittling that rather rugged looking root!

rosie-alia said...

My, this looks fun! I really need to get my vintage behind down to one of these weekenders sometime soon! I too am sad though that there is no similar forties weekender, for it is my faveourite era!
Pip pip xx

Straight Talking Mama! said...

Good to finally meet you albeit fleeting, the down side of working at the Riot! Glad you had a good time and so pleased you said how friendly everyone is, I've be going since the first one and it has always been a fun, friendly, slightly drunken affair!

WDI said...

People, there is always the Hep Cats' Holiday if you prefer a decade earlier.

Kally said...

It seems all my favourite ladies of the blog-o-sphere were in attendance! How I wish I could have gone, alas funds did not allow it, but at least now I can live vicariously through your review! ;)

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