Tuesday , 5 July 2022

A queer eye on Merchant City Festival

Merchant City Festival Glasgow
Merchant City Festival Glasgow

KaleidoScot casts a queer eye on Glasgow’s Merchant City Festival, we sampled the cultural, arty and culinary delights and are here to tell about it!

Art, street theatre, Camp Cooks, theatrical arty hairdressing in lavish costumes, rainbow slushes, tasty food, Belgian Beer, free film screenings, music, what more can queer want? Ok… lets not make this list too exhaustive, but you’d find all this and much more at Glasgow Merchant City Festival.

We couldn’t review possibly every single stand, event and participant, there are far too excellent a many, but here are a few that might be of interest to LGBTI culture vultures…

Theatre and performance lovers are spoiled for choices, from the odd, even bonkers Cirque du Kaka, a hilarious slapstick clown show about friendship, expect the totally unexpected, like chubby bearded men dressed as half glamorous clowns and half ballerina, doing, well… the funniest friendly crazy things…  Or if you need your ego being massaged, seek out the Fame Factory duo who promise to make you famous in three minutes.  Fancy a rainbow hairdo, or stylised hair that would make drag artist look pale?  Dare a try? Well, Osadia artistic hairdressers, a glitzy hairdressing show from Barcelona, combining art and hairdressing can sculpture your hair – volunteer, we dare you!

Don’t miss a unique Scottish dance experience that you’ve never seen before, Big Fat Electric Ceilidh, we’ll just leave it at that.  Learn the steps then watch the film! Immerse yourself in 1974 and the music and moves that inspired a generation. Elaine Constantine’s Northern Soul, might be for you. Oh and cinema is a major event too, with Brunswick Street sporting a free giant outside cinema screen. Have a bit of cultural highland soul? Then gaelic, poetry and art might be your thing in Àirc III Gaelic café (Café Gaidhlig).

Fancy a bit of music, ahem, yelling, and food all at the same time?  Then come along to the culinary-musical performance of a “kitchen-organ-drum-system”, operated by Dutch artist Bram Graafland, a.k.a “Screaming Kitchen Prince”.  Or if you yearn for the extravagant drag and food combined  then the cookers-performers, karaoke extraordinaire Camp Cooks can fill your buns with delicious light bights such as limey chicken wraps, to Jambalaya with chicken and smoked sausage, or Aunt Lucy’s vegetable curry.  For sausage lovers, some chilli dawg or hot dawg would be most satisfying or try some mini American pancakes with maple syrup and banana yogurt, that won’t hurt but tease your taste-buds, we promise!

If you fancy to pig out on a mighty meaty portion, and no, we’re not talking about … then head to the Welsh Hoggy Hoggy stand, where you can sample the “Meats of the World”, including kangaroo, buffalo, venison and wild boar burgers…

If the weather is a bit cold, we’ve got something to warm your soul and mouth with Hell Mouth’s delicious spicy creations, where you can explore an amazing variety of chilly sauces, flavourings, from the Wiltshire Chilli Farm, that can add to your home meal a delicious Caribbean flavour; we tried the mango chili sauce – which combined perfectly the sweet and nippy taste of mango and the warm spiciness of chilli peppers.

Sweet tooth?  Threepwood Fayre is sells traditional Scottish handmade confectionery but with a creative and innovatory twist, Traditional Scottish Tablet, Raspberry Ruffles – rich tender coconut folded through a rich raspberry flavoured fondant and encased in a chocolate coating. Or the delicious Orange and Lime Fondant Creams.

You are guaranteed to exclaim Mama Mia! when you sample some of the Italian food, Scillian style, in Tentazioni’s stand.  We tried a mouth watering Tutti Frutti, a delicious soft nougat with exotic fruits and almonds, yum! The stand also features a fantastic range of salamis, cheeses, delicious exquisite biscuits, soft nougats, and chocolates.

Rainbow slush provide the thirsty queer with a dazzling array of yummy slushes in all the rainbow colours that would quench your thirst and tickle your tongue. Or try the delicious Dutch Pancakes made fresh to suit your own creative taste.

Or for an oriental flair, try the Turkish Food stand, with amazing and delicious array of baklava – we tried several of these delightful pastries, with almonds, pistachio, variations all smothered with honey.   And there were Turkish delights too to sample, along with the most amazing pies to match any taste.

If you fancy a special delicious gift card, er, yup, you read it right, then head to Glasgow’s very own delicious Belgian chocolate cards by Chocmotif’s – a creation of Alan S. Macleod, of yes, printed chocolate cards!  Only finest chocolate is used which is nut and gluten free, and suitable for vegetarians. Lovelingly hand crafted and hand finished with a minimum of mechanisation, and it tastes – well, amazing. What a novel idea for a gift card, sweet!

Feast your arty soul with the amazing Art On Scotland’s Craft & Design Fair, at Merchant Square, selling handmade goods from some of the finest crafters in Glasgow. Come along and enjoy browsing a host of stalls selling everything from candles, aromatherapy, photography, jewelry and lots more!  We stopped by at Michelle Cohen’s stand, who features beautiful dreamy, white, grey, greens and deep blue tones paintings associated with Scotland, as well as photography featuring Glasgow and the highlands.  Some of her creations have a hint of turquoise, a reference to her love of the tropics, where she lived for many years. Her fascination with Birch trees and wide-open skies provide an allegorical link from the memories of her farm upbringing on the prairies of Saskatchewan, Canada to her more recent experiences in her newly adopted home of Scotland.

Last but not least we hopped into the Empowerment Pants, and even got a comfy colourful rainbow pants for ourselves, made here in Glasgow. They are a gift item that not only feels good but does good!  As its makers, MsMissMrs, are a social enterprise that reinvests all its profit in empowering change for women through workshops and psychotherapy.  It’s a collective, community affair that produces, well, the most amazing comfy pants – even for men.

Here are just some of shots of what we talked about in a wee gallery.

About Dan Littauer

Dan Littauer is a journalist who specializes in LGBTI current affairs, travel writing, feature writing and investigative journalism. He is a correspondent for LGBTQ Nation, ManAboutWorld, and previously worked for Gay Star News, PinkNews, San Diego Gay and Lesbian News, Gay Middle East, Lonely Planet as well as contributing occasionally to the BBC, Al-Jazeera, CNN and The Guardian. He also had an extensive career outside journalism, which included teaching psychoanalysis and social science, and consultancy work for the travel market. When he is not busy writing, he can be spotted rambling around the stunning Scottish landscape, where he lives, spending time at home with his cat.

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