Clwb Gwerin Conwy Folk Club began in 1996.
There had been a Folk Club on Sunday evenings in Llandudno, which many of our members had frequented for many years, but it was in decline.
In it's last years it had had a lot of trouble finding a venue in Llandudno that would support a club.
A group of Musicians and Singers used to come for a sing around session at the "Rhoslan Hotel" on the West Shore, Llandudno, on Wednesday evenings.
A floating bar restaurant had recently moved in from Conwy Harbour, and it was proposed by one of the group that this would make an ideal venue for a Folk Club. The ship was known as the "Frigate Conwy" and it was agreed that a steering group approach the Management of the Frigate with the view of starting a Folk Club in the "Orlop Bar", that being the lowest of her decks. This proposal was welcomed, and with borrowed P.A. equipment and a great deal of faith, the first Folk Club night was set for Monday 12th August 1996.
This sounds as if it was easy, but actually involved much heated debate. First a day had to be chosen that did not conflict with other Clubs and sessions in the area. We finally chose Monday, almost against our better judgement, by a process of elimination, but did so with grave doubts of the viability of a Monday Club. Then came the arguments over funding - to charge or not to charge, that was the question. It was decided that a door charge might exclude the unwaged and these people could be our main supporters in an area renowned for it's seasonal workers.
We opted for a "Raffle and a Hat Pass", both of which would be optional, so that if necessary a person could come, sit with a glass of water all night and pay nothing, we therefore relied on those that could pay supporting the Club. In hindsight this was the right decision, we now have a healthy bank balance and attract quite a few people who would be deterred by door charges.
More discussion ensued over format, it was decided from the outset that there would be no resident singer, duo or band, that all would be equal with no one hogging the limelight.
Hosting of the Club would be shared on a rota.
The idea behind this was to try to avoid the same presentation every week. We also decided on a maximum of two songs or tunes per act, although one would be enough if that was all you had. We wanted to encourage people to get up and have a go, and over the year's some who got up with just one song have gone on to be our star performers.
We stick to the two song rule but more so now because of the number of singers the club attracts, there is often difficulty in giving everyone the opportunity to play!!!
Finally we had to have a name and "Conwy Folk Club" seemed obvious, we were in the Conwy Harbour on the "Frigate Conwy" and as we were in Wales it would be nice to have a bi-lingual name hence "Clwb Gwerin Conwy" which is "Conwy Folk Club" in Welsh, join the two together and you have "Clwb Gwerin Conwy Folk Club" - perfect.
Over the years since there has been several changes. The "Frigate Conwy" sailed away, and we re-located to "The Malt Loaf" on Rosehill Street. We purchased our own Public Address system, which has over time been replaced, twice!!! We have since moved to the Royal British Legion Club, also on Rosehill Street, just next door to the Malt Loaf, where already several wheelchair users have taken advantage of the improved access, singing & playing to great aclaim.
We still keep the same system of raising money, the Raffle raises sufficient money to cover our day to day expenses. The "bag pass" when it happens is exclusively for local charitable purposes. Our aim remains unchanged - to provide a relaxed venue which is free to enter on a singers night. Where the experienced and the beginner alike can feel comfortable and at home, and come and perform and enjoy live music We hope we have succeeded. Come and tell us if we have!