Shake & Stir is a vintage festival which takes place in Southbourne every year. Well, not every year, obviously. For two years it was cancelled due to Covid; when regular people were supposed to stay indoors and and partying was just for the likes of Boris and his mates.
Southbourne is a suburb of Bournemouth, a couple of miles east of the town centre with a very regular (every 3 minutes or so) bus link. Shake & Stir is a locally organised event, which bills itself as a vintage music festival, but in fact there are also vintage vehicles, vintage fairground rides, people dressed in vintage clothes etc… It takes place over a weekend (11 am to 5 pm on Saturday and Sunday) and is free to enter.
Like most locals, I wander along to Shake & Stir annually and it’s a pleasant day out. But the post pandemic world appears to be rather different. We were made to stay indoors with events (for non politicians) being cancelled and now we feel the need to go out and grab every opportunity. And so Fisherman’s walk; a small park (little more than a tree lined path) which leads from the high street to the beach is absolutely jam packed with revellers enjoying the food, drink and entertainment on offer.
The number of stalls appears to have increased this year too. (I Googled it when I got home – a record 98 traders in total). The park is rammed full of stalls selling food and drink, gifts and clothing. I can’t resist a local artist Richard Watkin (well, I can resist the artist – he’s not my type!) rather I can’t resist purchasing a selection of prints of his retro style paintings of Dorset towns.
It’s a bit of a scrum past some more stalls, bringing me to the bandstand where the main entertainment is being staged. The music does appear to be a little more sparse than previous years, when I’m sure there was a steady stream of artists, with lead billing going to Mungo Jerry. This year there appears to be fewer acts and more gaps filled by a DJ. But everybody is having a good time. When I arrive, a local dance club is giving Lindy Hop lessons, which the crowd really enjoy. Then the live music rounds off with a Rock ‘n’ Roll tribute band; Phil Haley and his Comments.
One of my favourite parts is a great selection of vintage cars including some American classics; a Chevrolet station wagon the size of my first flat and a beautiful pink convertible.
I enjoyed my trip to Shake & Stir, it’s something rather unique and nostalgic. However, to be honest it has outgrown its venue. In previous years, the event has spread into the high street with the road being closed to traffic, but now it has been contained in Fisherman’s Walk. I didn’t stay as long as I’d planned because was it was just too crowded. Last year, around 22,000 people attended and it was busy. This year, organisers were apparently expecting up to 60,000. That’s a lot of people rammed into a small space. The crowd watching the entertainment blocked the pathways making walking around the site difficult. But equally, it wasn’t possible to watch the entertainment because it was too crowded (I am only short). Hopefully, the organisers will address these issues and Shake & Stir will return next year bigger and better – and spread over a larger area!