This past weekend I spent in Newcastle, England. In case you’re unfamiliar with the geography of England (I had no idea where Newcastle was until only hours before my departure), it is the northernmost part of England—practically Scotland. Newcastle is one of those places that you can never quite grasp completely. It is more of a concept or an entity. After it is all said and done, you are merely left with a feeling.
Now after that rather Romantic depiction of Newcastle, let me add this in: Newcastle is essentially the Vegas of the UK. Yeah, let that simmer in a bit. So that ineffable feeling I was talking about? It is probably just a massive hangover.
Take Las Vegas, replace the post-modern, hyper-stylized structures of pyramids, castles, Italian and villas, then replace it with a beautiful old city deeply enmeshed in history. For example, in the center (centre) of the town, there is a towering statue of Charles Grey aka the guy who Earl Grey tea is named after. I imagine in England having tea named after you is the pinnacle of achievement. So this guy was definitely a big deal. Oh and if that doesn’t strike your fancy, there is even a castle in Newcastle! I was naïve enough to think that “castle” was simply part of the name of the town, but oh no, there was a castle. You can even walk through it, take pictures, touch it, and (according to my tour guide) if you’re a local Newcastle hoodlum, you even use the interior of the castle as a skate park!
There are pubs that at one point were used as coach stops for people who were traveling by horse across the region. Everything is reminiscent of an earlier time. The cobble stone streets even work to accentuate the quaint old-world feel of the town. However, they don’t simply capture the historic origins of the city, but also provide trenches for puke. Ahh yes, this brings me to my next point and one of the most important aspects of Newcastle—the party culture. As my tour guide explained, Newcastle was once the largest coal port in the world. However, after the coal industry began to decline, the city decided it needed to regenerate its economy and apparently, the officials of Newcastle got together and decided that the city should be remake its image as a party town (I would love to have seen that meeting).
By day, the city is a tourist destination for the whole family! Complete with history, tours, soccer matches, theatre, oh, but by night, make sure you have those kiddies tucked in by 8 (20.00). As soon as the sun sets, the Geordies descend upon the town. With their caked on makeup, fake lashes, haphazardly applied fake tans (yes, both men and women) they are ready to rage.
However, I think the real champions of this Geordie culture are the ladies. The weather the entire weekend hovered around the 45 degree F mark. But these girls scoffed at the idea of wearing any kind of outerwear (not even tights). So just imagine this scene, at about 10:00 pm the show at the Theatre Royal ends and the middle aged people dressed in very snug, conservative garb spill out of the theatre doors only to encounter hoards of scantily clad women. Ladies in boots and floor length peacoats face to face with girls in skin-tight “dresses” (more like spandex torso covers) with nothing else but their 5 inch (minimum) pumps. Yeah, it’s funny.
The guys on the other hand weren’t as uniform, there were three types of guys:
- The Geordie Guy- Think Jersey Shore Guido, very metro, tight shirts, fake tans, etc. (ugh)
- The Bachelor Party Guy- Being that Newcastle is the UK equivalent of Vegas, it attracts many bachelor parties and many of those people celebrating bachelor parties are dressed according to a theme
- The Foreigner- Girls wearing very little clothing? Lots of alcohol? Football (soccer) team? Where?!?! It’s no wonder Newcastle is a hotspot for guys from all over looking for just a crazy weekend.
Oh, take all of this imagery and add some very, VERY strong accents. Yeah, it just got way funnier. That’s Geordie Shore for you. I could continue on about this culture, but, MTV just does it so well…