Twisted by Design


"And it's all flailing limbs at the front-line, every single one of us was Twisted by Design..."


Across from the castle clock-tower, an Irish pub with arguably the worst toilets in Christendom. Step through the doors, ease your way through the press of valley boys and girls, make for the door by the fruit machine and then up, up the winding stairs to a dark room with lights, a projector and a most-likely bearded man at the door. Hand him a fiver and make for the bar. Only Brains bitter on offer, damnitt. Get yourself a pint of SA and regret the special brand of hang-over it'll bring you in the morning. There's Gary Twisted in the corner, face lit up in the glare of a battered laptop. He's done this seventeen years now to great acclaim, yet he still has the 'rabbit in the headlights' expression of a DJ who justly wants everything to flow just-exactly-right. You grab a table and pick up a request sheet. Pencil in Black Sheep by Metric. He won't play it, he never does - but you have to try, damnation. Best follow up with a crowd-pleaser. Scribble in a Magnetic Fields song and know this time that the odds are in your favour.

Talking Heads. Belle & Sebastian. Patti Smith. Johnny Cash. The Pixies. Beaker. Postal Service. The School. The Smiths. Orange Juice. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. British Sea Power. Arcade Fire. Bowie. Ramones...

The place is filling up. There's grainy feverish footage of some faintly disturbing 70's kid's science fiction show on the big screen. A track by the Super Furry Animals begins to play. Awlright. Time to hit the dance-floor. 

Images mainly shot with the X-E2 and the X100T - with a few by the X-Pro2

18mm f/2 - 35mm f/1.4 - EF-X20 Flash

If there's one thing I could never confess

It's that I can't dance a single step...

All good things come to an end. The bomb dropped early January as it was announced that the pub would be closed, extensively refurbished and re-opened as a gastro-pub under a different name and a new staff. The upstairs bar and dance floor, known as Four Bars, would shut down - and with it, Twisted by Design, the longest running indie disco in Cardiff. Gone the cosy nightclub above, gone the old and oddly charming down-at-heel pub for locals below. Gone the spilling through the double doors into Womanby Street at closing time, testing the bouncer's patience by running back inside for one's coat and keys. Gone even the weird mix of brawling valley boys, long-service drinkers and shuffling hipsters, somehow co-existing without the grimy floors becoming awash with blood.

And gone the worst toilets in Christendom. Seriously, bad. 

Twisted is in our four and a half percent proof marrow. We've been dancing badly on that beer-slick dance floor since time immemorial; flailing to fey indie Scottish pop and risking whiplash when Andrew W.K blasts Party Hard through the speakers. Incredible to think it's been seventeen years. Farewell Dempseys, we'll sure as hell miss you. After all, what can be done? Nothing but drink and dance, nothing but drink and dance and document these final moments... frozen twisted limbs and bitter-sweet grins... captured by the popping light of the flashbulb as I move with the music and click the shutter-button and try not to fall over in my drunken, giddy, haze...  

"This is our decision to live fast and die young
We've got the vision, now let's have some fun."

Some things are hard to kill. In one form or another, Twisted will live on. A life-line is thrown out by the Full Moon Club, two dozen yards away down Womanby Street. It's the home of Tomas Watkins ale, a killer jukebox, Carly the most-excellent manager and only the sixth worst toilets in Cardiff. Gary grabs the life-line with both hands and clambers aboard, lap-top in tow. We follow. Of course we follow... 


"Dancing in the disco, bumper to bumper - wait a minute: Where's me jumper? Where's me jumper? Where's me jumper?" 


Check out the archives for lots more photography and Fujifilm fun.  Thanks for reading y'all, if you're a Twisted disciple having stumbled across this page then please perhaps share a memory below. If you're from out of town and a long way's away, then share your own memories of a beloved nightclub, or whatever. Don't forget to like and subscribe and oh God sorry, but Pulp's just started playing, got to get back to that dance-floor...