Saturday, 12 March 2011

The Reluctant Geek - Geek culture is like the TARDIS... bigger on the inside.

I write this surrounded by debris. There is a scalp of blond curly hair flung over the back of the sofa, and a shiny, black French Maid dress abandoned on the floor. There are two boots gazing lovingly at each other across the carpet and an array of shimmery sparkly make up balanced on every available surface.

Pop quiz Lion Lovers (that might’ve come out wrong) have I:
a) murdered the hired help
b) wandered onto the set of Showgirls 3
c) been living it up at Cheltenham’s premier alternative night out?

I’ll give you a clue… I don’t like Vegas and murder is just plain messy. I do however adore Judder, a club night held monthly at the Two Pigs. In a small town like Cheltenham, there are limited opportunities for indulging interests that go beyond the mainstream. Inevitably, the few places that do exist become focuses for communities that would otherwise remain disparate. Judder is one such place, and actually, Proud Lion is another.

Don’t get me wrong, the title for this blog is ‘The Reluctant Geek’ and I’m not for a single second suggesting that Judder isn’t primarily populated with achingly hip alternative types. What I am saying is that there is quite often a fair amount of sub-cultural crossover. It’s a radical suggestion I know, but often some of the most committed geeks are the ones you see on the second Friday of the month, bouncing enthusiastically to Pendulum, attired in the most fantastically elaborate costume, looking like they’re auditioning for a bit part in the next Blade movie.

Maybe it’s something to do with an indifference to the judgement of the mainstream that creates the over-lapping Venn diagram (see I can do maths references too!) On an average Judder night out I interact with role players, LARPers, comic book fanatics and sci-fi addicts, well as a whole bunch of strange and exotic folk who sometimes look scary to the uninitiated eye, but inevitably turn out to be lovely. Judder recognises the niche superiority of its audience too, with themes designed to send Cheltenham’s geek community into paroxysms of delight; past favourites have included Comic Book Judder, Post Apocalypse Judder and High School Movie Judder.

Aside from the obvious allure for an out and proud fancy dress addict like me, one of Judder’s key selling points is the sense of tolerance and mutual responsibility it fosters. If the majority of the world dismiss your interests as childish and pointless - or your dress sense and taste in music as aggressive and freakish - then you tend to go one of two ways. You either try to elevate your own particular corner of counter-culture by surrounding it with complex rules and punishing the outsiders who break them, or you go out of your way to create a community that is friendly and non-judgemental as a foil to the rest of the universe. Judder definitely takes the latter approach.

And actually, "fancy dress" is an inadequate term for some of the lengths that its collection of talented and creative attendees take costuming to. Whilst I tend to be of the "find a vaguely cute and appropriate dress and throw on a wig" school of fancy dress, some of the outfits people sashay through the door wearing could more appropriately be termed works of art than anything else. Being outside of the mainstream quite often means finding yourself surrounded by people who are infinitely more clever, nicer and more interesting than your average sticky dance-floored meat market.

In case anyone was wondering, the theme of last night’s event was Doctor Who Judder. You really haven’t lived until you’ve hit the dance floor surrounded by two Amy Ponds, a whole host of incarnations of the Doctor and a girl dressed as a TARDIS. The intersection of geek and alternative culture can be a beautiful thing...

One last point, if you’re still baffled about the relevance of the Maid outfit then you clearly need to cast your mind back to the Christmas special of 2007...

Man, I wish I hadn’t died horribly in a fire...

This week, Kate is a literary cactus.


  1. That sounds great! Did you get any pictures of costumes to share with us?

  2. They aren't up yet, but you will eventually be able to see a host of amazing pictures from this (and past) Judders, over at their website: Enjoy! :-)