Coming Together at Culture Club
Meet the mind of your dreams at OMAC's Culture Club, James Gracey reports
Have you ever thought that you’d really like to go to the theatre and take in a show, but your friends aren’t interested? Or maybe it’s the case that you’re new to Belfast and would like the opportunity to hook up with other culture vultures? Culture Club, a new collaboration between OMAC and Audiences NI, may be the very thing for you - with not a single Boy George or Karma Chameleon in sight.
The new event, based in the cosy climes of the Old Museum Arts Centre, offers patrons the opportunity to see a show and mingle with like-minded people in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere. While it isn’t strictly a singles night – you never know who you might meet…
Joseph Nawaz, marketing and press officer at OMAC, explains the many benefits of Culture Club:
'Culture Club is an event that we’ve organised to welcome both first timers to Belfast and first timers to the theatre – and maybe people who love theatre but don’t have anyone to come with. We can give them the chance to meet other like-minded people and take in a great show.'
Always on the look out for ways to entice new audiences through their door, OMAC see Culture Club as an accessible way to welcome patrons, offer them the opportunity to catch a show and more importantly, a platform to share their theatre-going experience and ideas in conversation with people who share a common interest in all things theatrical.
Not exactly a dating service, Nawaz believes the evening will be whatever people make it.
'Soul mates do collide and clash and meet at social events such as this. We’re not going for the dating angle, but you will meet people of a similar mindset. And you never know what might happen.'
While Belfast inhabitants are generally a gregarious bunch - especially after a few glasses of complimentary social lubricant - the city can also prove to be quite a cliquey place. People tend not to stray too far from the familiar and anyone new to Belfast may find it difficult to go to the right places and meet the right people without reverting to the internet.
With Culture Club, the whole point is to mix and converse and break down social barriers. Patrons won’t receive sideways glances when they show up by themselves. Instead they’ll discover that they are not alone in wanting to be entertained, go out afterwards and maybe even discuss the evening over a few drinks. Given that there are 115,609 single people in Belfast – equating to 55% of the population, according to the 2001 census – there will be something, and maybe even someone, here for everyone.
The inaugural Culture Club is kicked off by the exceedingly quirky and unceremonious Susan & Darren, a show that has received acclaim at festivals in Manchester and Edinburgh. Real life doesn’t stop when this particular show starts. Susan and Darren are actual mother and son – he, a dancer and choreographer who also happens to be gay, and she a professional cleaner. They live together in Manchester and dance occupies an important place in their lives.
Audiences are invited to help them prepare for one of their famous parties. Along the way there will be anecdotes and revelations, old-school dancing, a few laughs and a few tears too. So far, so Coronation Street meets Ken Loach.
'It’s a strange hybrid beast,' declares Nawaz. 'It has quite diverse elements in it, it’s warm and accessible, its got very pertinent human themes running throughout about loss and sadness and also a lot of comedy too.'
Anyone who has ever been to OMAC before will know to expect the unexpected – the venue is no stranger to challenging and eclectic events – and Culture Club will be no different.
Culture Club is on at OMAC on October 4, at 6.30pm. Tickets cost £12.