Almost a full month ago, we took our bikes, jumped two trains and arrived in the lost resort of Morecambe. A seaside small town once famous and thriving with tourists, now losing the battle with the sunnier places of Europe and the assorted cheap flights.
What brought us there, apart from our usual need for discovering new corners of the island? Well, it was the second edition of a festival called Vintage by the Sea, promising classic bike rides, vintage cars on display, a market full of wonders to discover, an old school London double decker transformed into DJ booth from where great northern soul and other good vibes spread, and some a nice rave for the Saturday evening.
And we were not disappointed. We had all these, but also some great extras offered by Morecambe, like the beautiful Art Deco Midland hotel, the Winter Gardens, a former bath, bars, ballroom and theatre complex, now half ruined, half renovated, a classic British promenade, a former Odeon cinema Art Deco building, book shops, coffee places selling records, vintage advertise signs painted on buildings, and an overall charming feeling of what you could feel that for most part was a ghost town.
First things first, we checked in our old fashioned hotel, that had a very grumpy in sort of bored funny way owner, and who turned to be quite nice in the end, offering safe shelter for our bikes. Quite a blessing the festival he said, pointing at the no vacancy sign displayed in the window.
From there we dived straight into the early festival atmosphere, and we had a nice warm up parading along the promenade in a “sea” of vintage, retro and new bicycles. Folks were dressed appropriately, showcasing some really fine machines and assorting gear. We also git to change ideas with other cyclists and even had a short ride on a great Puch 80’s folding bike.
And then…full day of swinging and enjoying all the eye candies from another age…traditional amusements, dancing on the platform, assorted stalls with vintage clothes and other bits and pieces.
Even the food was sold in retro ways.
Discovering Morecambe was a really pleasant surprise, and we had fun identifying hints to a glorious past, savouring the empty streets behind the houses facing the promenade, and imaging how the life flows at the bay when the town is not flooded by crazy vintage fashionistas.
Back to the centre of the festival we had a good share of classic punk anthems, which sounded surreal coming from the tiny Melodrome scene. But the guys in the band seemed like the real material and enjoyed themselves and the warm audience.
From there, after a bit of rest at our charming hotel, we headed for a full night of acid house beats from the golden age of Hacienda. DJs Dave Haslam and Mike Pickering perfectly complemented each other and poured bliss in our ears, Haslam heating us up with excellent house anthems, while Pickering taking everybody to a trance state of non-stop dance. All this was made even more surreal in the space offered by the derelict Winter Gardens, the former ballroom and theatre. The statues and ornaments from the high ceiling were the perfect guards from vintage times.
Sunday was a perfect sunny day to be enjoyed by the sea. And in the surroundings of a Streamline Art Deco bijou like Midland Hotel, everything made even more sense. It was built in the 30’s, abandoned in the 90’s and brought back to life in the new millennium. With those cars left there after the classic car show, it seemed to literally take you back to the time when it was opened. And those sculpted sea horses…
The stroll was great that Sunday and left us with great memories and images to be enjoyed later. A great festival in the perfect place, check their page here.