York Social – The Gathering

On Saturday evening, 9 March 2013, we followed up the successful ‘Luddite Wake’ from January with ‘York Social-The Gathering’ in the Golden Ball pub in York. The format is a bit unusual, incorporating acoustic music, not always folk music and with songs not always accompanied by instruments, mixed in with poetry in any format, along with reading of interesting items of prose. It is billed as words, songs and music ‘by the people, of the people and for the people’, so it tends to have a critical political edge, or at least an undercurrent of social commentary. This first attempt was somewhat experimental and we did it ’round the room’, with a full house and not a lot of room for those of us who brought guitars, which had a very democratic effect and created a friendly, informal atmosphere. It was decidedly hard work to organise it and to compere it on the night, but once again we unearthed some new talent and the feedback suggested that some of those who might not have put themselves forward before, will do so in future. What one might call a ‘result’! Time will tell whether the idea will progress and how it might evolve in future. But it is good to have created a cultural space for the beleaguered ‘left’ in hard times. By coincidence, while preparing for the night, I discovered that Geordie Radical and Utopian Socialist Thomas Spence had just such an idea back around 1807-1810, meeting in the Fleece Inn, Old Windmill Lane, London. He called his evenings, ‘Free and Easy Club’. I’ll drink to that!