What. a. day. It’s safe to say that Wednesday evening was one of the most impromptu and enjoyable nights out I’ve had in a very long time. It was only the night before I’d realised that I’d put my name down to attend my first blogging event, and I was in two minds about going. I’m not usually the most outgoing of people, and turning up to an official evening in an unknown location with a room full of strangers isn’t how I’d normally choose to spend my time. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. My midweek evening ritual typically includes peppermint tea, not prosecco cocktails, Disney pyjamas, not a denim jacket, and a boxset, not a blogging event.
I don’t really know what came over me. Maybe it was the promise of my favourite season being just around the corner. The sunshine stroking my face as I walked towards unchartered territory and the intoxicating fumes of freshly cut grass tickling my nose gave me just enough of a boost to turn up.
Then came the fun and games. For someone who overanalyses everything, I hadn’t given much thought to the fact that I had arranged to meet a few Cardiff-based bloggers who I’d never met IRL. Turning up at St David’s Shopping Centre, which could rival the Holy Land on its number of daily visitors, scanning the masses through my dodgy contacts for a glimpse of a face I’d only ever seen in a social media square box was slightly daunting.
I decided to wear my favourite green Ralph Lauren denim jacket, partly because it gives me that extra injection of sass, but also to make me that little bit easier to find. Thankfully one of the girls I was planning to meet spotted my tactfully chosen attire and it all went swimmingly from there.
I felt instantly at ease with the three girls I met. The conversation was easy, we had a lot of the same interests and our sense of humour clicked. We walked over to Bootlegger on Womanby Street ready for the event to begin. As we debated whether or not to go inside as we’d arrived an hour early, a friendly gentleman approached us who turned out to be the bar owner. He told us a little bit about the business, how Cardiff’s sister location in Bristol has been a roaring success and that in its first five days of opening in the Welsh capital over 2,000 reveller had walked through its doors.
Entering the building under a ‘Prohibition is Over’ sign, the exciting unspoiled newness of the speakeasy greeted us as the smell of fresh paint and untreated wood hit the senses. It felt as if we were being given a backstage access to one of Cardiff’s coolest hangouts ahead of the masses and before cider cocktails got a chance to attack.
The bar itself was close to my idea of a perfect space for a few drinks. The post-prohibition theme is original and well-executed and spoke to my inner historian. As you walk in you’re greeted by a very American deer head hanging on the wall and a sign which leads you to the Moonshine Bar. Even small details give the space an authentic feel, such as the ‘Restrooms’ sign and images of some of the iconic swing, jazz and soul singers of the day.
The bartender was very chatty and helpful and made us some incredible freshly-made drinks from their list of 107 cocktails. Watching the drinks take shape before our eyes was good fun, with the barman taking special care to precisely sculpt our cocktails to make them extra Instagramable. Between us we tried a few different beverages, with the Jaffa Cake Espresso Martini, Mr Lover Lover and the Strawberry Kiss coming out on top. I’d highly recommend swapping dunking your Jaffa Cake in your mug of tea for dipping it in a Martini.
The music was delightful, with upbeat rock n roll tunes and emotive blues melodies coming through the speakers, without drowning out our conversations. A little later in the evening a duo walked over to the small stage area and started to prepare for a set. The guitarist strummed on his acoustic guitar to complement the female vocalist’s soulful rendition of ‘I Heard It Through the Grapevine’. The live music was a welcome addition to an already wonderful evening and gave it a Nashvillesque feel, which swung it for me.
We also got talking to other bloggers and PRs and spoke about our jobs, aspirations and blogs. One of the unexpected highlights of the evening was explaining that the main theme of my blog was anxiety. The general reaction was surprise that I suffered with it. Take that, anxiety. Then, four of the five girls in the conversation said they felt the same way. I felt like I’d found a sisterhood.
I was sad to see the evening end. It really couldn’t have gone any better. We left thanking the owner and bartender for their hospitality, promising to return, and planning meetups with the new contacts we’d made. Before heading home though we couldn’t resist McDonald’s mozzarella dippers and pilgrimaged around the city centre in search of cheese whilst making Princess Diaries references.
As I walked through my front door that night I couldn’t believe how happy I felt. I had let go of some daemons, and gained a great experience at my first blogging event, a new go-to bar and some fantastic friends. I’m already super excited for our next gathering. It goes to prove the power of a green denim jacket and how it can pay off to jump into the unknown and figure out the rest along the way.