Fools and Heroes Glasgow



LARP or Live Action Role Play is latest form of gaming to capture the UKs imagination. Using improv, costumes and outdoor settings, it is literally a breath of fresh air.

“It’s similar to games like Dungeons and Dragons, but instead of sitting around the table rolling dice you put on costumes and become the characters,” LARP veteran Claire Main said.

Main works as Glasgow Branch Liaison Officer to LARP group Fools and Heroes, in which she has gamed for four years.

She said: LARPing has been around for quite a long time; in the eighties we spotted the first groups in the UK. In the nineties the Cuckoos Nest was set up as part of Glasgow University LARP society, but it has now become its own separate entity. Lots of LARP groups have now sprung up in Glasgow.”

Although one of many, Main explained that the Fools and Heroes group works as part of a wider network.

She said: “The society, as a whole, works by allowing members of one local branch to play in the games of others throughout the country. So you can play as your character and travel as them throughout the UK.”

Main recalled: “I had a phone call this week from a couple in the Plymouth branch of Fools and Heroes, wanting to match our LARP session dates with those of their holiday, so that they could join the game while on their break.”

She added: “I have friends all over the UK now that I wouldn’t have met otherwise; it is a wonderful social network!”

Although part of a national scene, Fools and Heroes Glasgow branch practices most in Mugdock Country Park.

Main set the scene: “The park has a lot of terrain to play with. It has an old World War II bunker that can be adapted to be a trap in the game; it also has open fields and marsh that can be farmland, battlefields or graveyards. Nature can set a wonderful backdrop to get your mind going. Some of the best games that I have had have been when the mist has come rolling in or there has been snow on the ground.”

She added: “Nature is however, only a starting point. Its up to the player to get immersed into the character and for the referees to set each situation up well, so that the game feels authentic.”

This authentic vibe is created by splitting the game and group in half; the first half sees one lot of fools and heroes assume characters on a noble quest, while the second lot will play the villains and damsels in distress. Then after lunch participants swap around, so that everyone gets a chance to play both signature and supporting characters.

Signature characters have become synonymous with LARPing, as many players use the medium to become their idols. However, Main explained that is not quite how it works in the world of Fools and Heroes.

She said: “All LARP groups are different, but Fools and Heroes sees you play one main character of your own design. You will start of as a primary character, such as a squire, then as your character grows in experience and wealth they can progress. For instance, after a while your character can join a guild, join a church, learn magic and develop into an epic hero.

“This development allows you to learn as the same time as your character, for instance the first time your character encounters a troll they won’t know what to do, so a more experienced character will need to step in and show you. Then as you learn and progress you will help those less experienced.”

This learning also expands players’ life skills.

Main explained: “It gets you exercising and encourages you to develop other skills on the side. I have learned to sew, knit, crochet all through LARPing.”

While the game is progressive, it is high contact, so not suitable for everyone.

Main cautioned: “Fools and Heroes LARP is a physical game, it involves running and combat so it would be more challenging for people with mobility restrictions, however there are all kinds of LARPing out there, so it is up to the player to find one that suits them.”

Likewise Fools and Heroes only allows full membership at the age of eighteen, due to its adult content, but Main explains that there are other groups out there that will cater to younger players.

She concluded: It is hard to describe what LARPing is, so I would say to anyone that is curious about it to just come along and give it a go. It would lend itself well to team building and an alternative day out.”



Glasgow Mela Festival

Mela pic


Bringing the world to Kelvingrove Park is Scotland’s biggest multicultural arts festival, Glasgow Mela. Taking place on 17 July – from noon until 8pm – the event celebrates Scotland’s diversity.

Glasgow Mela Steering Group Chair, Councillor Soryia Siddique said: “We have artists coming from India and Pakistan, as well as acts who will perform sets based on Roma, Polish, Chinese, African and Scottish Culture, to name just a few. It is truly a multi-cultural celebration of Glasgow and all its communities. “

With live music, dancing, workshops and food, Glasgow Mela has something for everyone.

Siddique added: “Mela is a family event so everyone – from the very young to the very old – can come and enjoy it and they often do. One of the real pleasures of working on the event is to see so many families.”

40,000 people attended Mela 2015, as the festival celebrated its 25th year.

Siddique recalled: “Last year was brilliant, amazing, fantastic. I don’t imagine anyone who saw the headline collaboration of the Red Hot Chilli Pipers and The Dhol Foundation will ever forget it. We enjoyed a glorious day.”

This year’s festival looks to continue the trend, with Pakistan’s Pop Idol Asad Abbas; UK Bhangra star Lehmber Hussainpuri; and the Rajasthan Heritage Brass Band all headlining.

Siddique added: There will also be several Glasgow based musical collaborations that I am very excited to see performed live for the first time.”

As well as music, Mela 2016 will host interactive workshops.

Siddique said: “We have a dedicated area which will allow younger people to give new sports a try and there is also an area dedicated to global games. As well as this, there is a Children’s zone that includes an Indian puppet show and a place to make and fly kites.”

After working up an appetite revellers can take respite from Glasgow Mela’ s many food and drink stalls.

Siddique explained: “The Glasgow Mela is always held shortly after the end of Ramadan and so we aim to have a broad range of food, much of it locally sourced, for people to enjoy.”

The Councillor concluded: “If you’ve never been you have to come and give it a try. There’s a whole world of entertainment happening on your doorstep. Come and join us as we celebrate the many cultures that make Glasgow the vibrant and distinct city it is.”


Picture: Copyright to Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Mela.
(L-R) Amisha Mandaniya, Gayatri Dixi, Pragati Malhotra, Consellor Soryia Siddique, Dhuwaraha Rajathelakan, Thurgajini Srikaran and Dagshagini Taylor.

Glasgow Parkour Girls


Born in France and immortalised in Hollywood, Parkour has trickled down to Scotland; shedding its macho image on the way.

Over five years ago a group of women, Glasgow Parkour Girls, adapted the free-running art to their city and physic.

This was no mean feat, as the training discipline meant navigating the streets via running, climbing, swinging, vaulting, jumping, rolling, and quadrupedal movement.

As well as physical obstacles, the women had to overcome the image of Parkour as a male sport.

Coach Kel Glaister said: “Parkour has its roots in France, where in the early eighties a group of young men in Lisses (near Paris) began training to their functional strength, and developing movement through environment.”

She continued: “Parkour’s unofficial motto is ‘être fort pour être utile’; be strong to be useful. Training is focused on the functionality of movement, the longevity of the traceuse, and on helping others.”

This community spirit is central to Glasgow Parkour Girls (GPG) group.

Glaister said: “We recognise that to an outsider Parkour can seem inaccessible, scary, and macho. Our group aims to change that perception, and make space for those who identify as female; especially those feeling marginalised in other sports.”

Welcoming women of all ages and builds, Glaister explained that GPG caters to different abilities.

She said: “The the current group consists of women in their early twenties to thirties, but Parkour is for all ages. We’ve had Glasgow Parkour Girls in their fifties and sixties.”

She added: “Everything we train can be scaled to all levels of confidence and ability. There should be something challenging for everyone, and something that everyone is good at.”

Glaister explained that strength and confidence building is part of training.

She said: “Parkour training is focussed on longevity; for instance practicing landing technique so you absorb the impact with you muscles rather than your joints.

“It also means learning to judge risk and to trust your own judgement. We rarely train at height, and no one will ever pressure their peer into a jump, drop or climb at a GPG session.”

This supportive environment is, Glaister said, one attraction of the group.

She explained: “GPG is non-competitive, and that’s a draw for a lot of people. There’s no way to win or lose at Parkour, it’s all about individual progress. This means everyone understands the struggle. Getting the first climb-up or speed vault is an amazing moment, and everyone will cheer – no matter how slow or low it is.”

GPG classes start with a twenty minute warm up, before drills and techniques are learned. This is followed by a twenty minute strengthing and conditioning session, and rounded off with stretches.

Glaister said: “GPG has a private facebook group, and that’s where we chat about training. We are based around Glasgow, so we have most classes near one of its underground stations.”

Glaister explained that GPG members are equals, however, the group benefits from the knowledge of professional coaches.

She said: “I lead Glasgow Parkour Coaching women’s classes, which happen every Tuesday evening.

“We ran a fundraising campaign to get me qualified, and we’ll be fundraising again to support more female coaches.”

Also keen to attract new GPG members, Glaister said: “Anyone interested in the class should come along – all our training is focussed on safety and longevity- and it really is accessible.”

Cordao De Ouro

1 cap

Capoeira is a martial art with a difference; it uses combat, music and dance to express Afro Brazilian history.

Capoeira Instructor Fiaz Jaca Cdo explained: “Capoeira originated in Brazil among African slaves. The slaves were banned from practicing martial arts, so they disguised it as dance. Today Capoeira incorporates this influence in its beats and languages.”

Dance is now vital in Capoeira culture. While some classes focus on ‘play’ similar to sparring Instructor Jaca’s Cordao De Ouro class also uses musical movement play to improve stretch and coordination. It was this aspect that first brought him to practice.

He said: “My ex-wife is a dancer and she was trying to loosen me up, both physically and mentally, so she brought me to a Capoeira class. At the time I could barely touch my toes and wasn’t sure if it was for me, but the music kept me going back.

“Capoeira has elements that appeal to everyone. It’s not about using force; it’s about leverage and technique. At the higher level we use the pads and bags to practice kicks and strikes.”

Each Cordao De Ouro class has a different focus, with sessions running at various times and locations across Edinburgh and in Glasgow’s Wellington Church. In Glasgow: on Monday from 6 to 7pm is a beginners group; then from 7 to 8:30pm is an intermediate. Wednesday from 6 to 8pm is a mixed levels practice, with Capoeira music. Friday from 6:30 to 8pm is a mixed levels practice, with acrobatic training.

Kids classes are also held in Wellington Church; on Wednesday from 4 to 5pm is a group for 5 to 10 year olds; then Friday hosts three classes: one from 3:30 to 4pm for 5-8 year olds, another from 4:15 to 5pm for 8-11year olds and finally one from 5 to 6pm for those 11 and above.

Adult Classes are £6.50 booked individually or cheaper when part of a block. Beginners get their first class free and can participate in gym clothes.

Instructor Jaca explained: “In class we will start by introducing the new members; then we warm up, practice dynamic stretching and the ginga [basic play] stance. Once warmed up we will move on to partner work, kicks, counter work and basic acrobatics, like cartwheels. This will then evolve into sequences and be practiced with different partners.”

Partner practice is showcased at the end of each class, inside the Roda or circle. Students will stand in a ring and watch two of their peers ‘play’ in the middle. Instructor Jaca explained that the Roda symbolises the world.

“This is what Capoeira is: the Roda, the play in the circle, the music, singing and history. When the music is right it builds timing and improves response. Capoeira is not just about learning the moves; it’s about how you develop as a person.”

As students develop they progress through a belt grading system that uses colours of the Brazilian flag.

Instructor Jaca said: “As the instructor I will monitor the students to assess their level; but no matter the level, every student must show commitment; this brings a sense of community to the group.”

Capoeira’s traditions have now been recognised by the United Nations, which in November 2014 awarded it cultural heritage status.

Instructor Jaca concluded: “Historically Capoeira was about the African and indigenous Brazilian fight for liberty. So Capoeira is about freedom. People rush to Capoeira class to unwind from the stress of the day. If you are looking for mental, physical and spiritual peace Capoeira is the thing for you.”

To find out more or book a class, visit Cordao De Ouro Capoeira website.

Polling Opinion



Since its boom in the noughties pole classes have popped up all over Glasgow, ranging in location from night clubs to community centres. This surge in popularity has pole trainers locking horns with patriarchs and feminists alike. While many participants deem the activity a sport, there are still those who class it as erotic dance.

The problem lies in varied expectation, as Dr Samantha Holland found in her 2010 study, some women liked pole ‘dancing’ for its feminine image, while others preferred pole training for its opposition to gender roles depicting women as weak. This, she explained, led to a division between dancers and acrobats.

Holland said: “In the same way that a high church has incense and robes, the strippery classes have high heels and feather boas; and just as a low church would eschew too many statues, the exercise classes have bare feet and refute comparisons with lap dancing.”

Yet, of the two it seems the ‘lower church’ trend is leading, with 73 per cent of Holland’s survey saying they took classes to improve their fitness, while only 61 per cent did so to feel sexy. Further to this, 85 per cent of the 140 polers surveyed said they had no experience or intention of working in a strip club.

Interesting as the doctor’s statistics are, they are somewhat unbalanced, with only 3 of the polers surveyed being male. This inequality reflects another dispute among polers, as to the acceptance of men within the practice. Theorists often establish pole classes as being empowering to women, on the basis that they exclude men, creating all-female gyms. This view is expressed by Holland, as she said: “Classes are not subject to the male gaze because pole classes are, for the majority, all female.

But this perception seems to be changing, as 23 -year-old dance instructor, Zhang Peng, proved when he won China’s 2007 National Pole Dancing competition.

Wolanski’s Pole & Aerial Fitness owner said: “Men are by nature stronger in the upper body so find a lot of the moves easier to perform than the females, but they do not do so well where pain threshold is concerned and the co-ordination for spins do not come so easily.”

Wolanski has been professionally training for over five years.

She said: “I was fortunate to represent Scotland at the World’s first Pole Cup in Brazil. Their government is backing the organisation and the event will now be held annually in different countries across the globe.”

Events such as this return pole fitness to its roots of Mallakhamb the traditional Indian sport, dating back to the 12th Century. It involves gymnastic moves being performed on a vertical wooden pole or rope.

Wolanski added: “People who automatically associate pole training with strip clubs should be aware that it never originated here. Pole originated from India as part of the Mallakhamb dance; then associated with the pagan festival. This was well before Western society created the strip club industry.”

“Even classes termed as pole dance are now unlikely to aid people who wish to join clubs. Classes can cause bruising and burns depending on what moves the individual is working on, something I can’t imagine managers at these clubs would want on their dancers.”

Bruises and burns seem inevitable in an exercise as high impact as pole fitness, something which would suggest it is not suitable for the young and elderly. But, never one to accept defeat, Wolanski disagrees.

“I can’t speak for all pole classes but my classes cater for all ages as there is no adult content. In fact juniors pick it up far easier as they don’t have the same fear factor as adults. Although, I don’t give certain moves to children as some techniques put a lot of pressure on elbow and knee joints.”

The ability to tailor work-outs to individuals’ needs enable people of any stamina or shape to practice pole fitness. While Wolanski says her class can practice in their tracksuits, more advanced moves require skin contact with the pole. The pros often strip down to their smalls, to allow grip with their stomach.

The idea of bearing all daunted student teacher Cara McKnight, as she joined Pole Physique on Argyle Street.

The 22-year-old from Dennistoun said: “I was so nervous I expected it to be a bunch of perfect-looking, stuck-up girls, but it’s not at all. There are girls of all shapes and sizes and everyone is made to feel welcome.”

She continued: “I would say my arms are a lot stronger now, as you’re holding your body weight, a lot of the moves tighten your tummy muscles too. It’s a good way to work out without realising you’re working out. Though I don’t think young girls should be doing it, as I guess it is a form of sexy dance.”

Despite dividing opinion there is no denying the growing popularity of pole classes, X – Pole statistics claim every 12 hours, somewhere in the world a pole studio is opened, or added to a business.

See Miriam’s pole fitness demonstration via her Facebook page.