Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Vespertine York #2: Coffee Trail

Last June, I volunteered with the Vespertine team, for their second event: Coffee Trail, sponsored by York Food & Drink Festival, York Cocoa House and York Archeological Trust.

https://www.instagram.com/vespertineyork/Vespertine is a series of free, monthly, twilight events, happenings and performances, hosted in some of York’s most intriguing and beautiful spaces and places of heritage (as said on their website).

I participated in their second event, named Coffee Trail which aimed to showcase a hidden story of York's coffee house. Before being a tea lover nation, Britain was in love with coffee. Those coffee houses were social gatherings like pubs and caf├ęs nowadays.The event revolved around a coffee train in York, following different performances and food tastings. 

The first stop was at York Cocoa House, where visitors had the opportunity to taste chocolate flavoured coffee and to listen to The History Girls.  At this stop, visitors would learn about the history of coffee houses in York, which had been popular in the 18th century.
Octopus Collective at Vespertine #02 

The second stop was run by Octopus Collective Breadboard Orchestra. Visitors were invited to create their own piece of improvised music with several pre- recorded sounds such as sing violin bows, coffee beans / grinders, chopsticks and other small objects. It was really popular and playful while being associated with a tasting of chocolate flavoured beers. 
Banners Vespertine #02

The next stop was in the middle of Stonegate. Volunteers were holding banners with stories  from journal headlines relating to coffee houses. It is interesting to note that those coffee houses were perceived as "dangerous" places because different parts of the society could meet and interact with each other. They were soon to be banned. The poetry group "A Firm of Poets" was in charge of declaiming poems related to the event, my favourite one was on Manchester.

A Firm of Poets at Vespertine #02

On their way to the last stop, the beautiful Barley Hall, visitors were invited to have a look at the window display created by Jean McEwan, an amazing artist who works on a lot of community-based projects. The display's theme was the exclusion of women from the so-called democratic coffee house debates and discussions, created from women's zine and and coffee filters.

The Frozen Time Collective Vespertine #02

The last stop was in Barley Hall. Visitors were invited to wear a casque which would transcribe their brain activity into sound. This activity lead by the Frozen Time Collective played with the idea that at the end of the trail your brain would be more active thanks to all the coffee you have eaten/drunk. 

To sum up, it was a very enjoyable evening, a rare treat in York! All the stops were well thought out and engaging. You learnt more about the history of coffee houses and how popular they actually were at the time, while discovering local artists and places in York. 

I strongly encourage you to follow Vespertine and to come to one of their events!  

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