You may know Andy Dolan by various other names; Andy Pan Within, Hubcap Diamondstar or even possibly Jam Man. It’s like he’s trying to avoid detection by Interpol, but it’s nothing like that. The organiser of Whitby Steampunk Weekend has acquired these names throughout his life. His fascination with the God Pan from Greek mythology, coupled with a love of the song Pan Within by The Waterboys gave him his current moniker. But what about Hubcap? “Hubcap is a nickname acquired during childhood from friends because I was into T. Rex and was always singing Get It On (Hubcap Diamondstar Halo is in the lyrics).” Obviously his nickname Jam Man comes from his company Decadent Preserves.
Andy and his early life
From an early age, Andy has had a deep interest in the Victorian era. Reading well known novels from iconic authors such as HG Wells and Jules Verne. The film 80 Days Around the World with David Niven – whom he describes as the “ultimate chap” is still a firm favourite. However, it’s the darker side which has mainluy attracted him as it does so many people in the culture. He explains “I have always enjoyed the Victorian era, particularly the darker , seedier and macabre side of life. I love the funereal architecture in cemeteries in Paris like Pere Lachaise, Montmarte, and Montparnasse where my wife and I had the most wonderful honeymoon (along with the Catacombs too)!
I am in turns both fascinated and repulsed in my reading by the living and working standards of the Victorian Age, the crimes and murders in fog bound shadowy streets dimly lit by street lights. So I suppose my lifelong fascination with the murkier elements of Victorian Age and the splendid style of dress had seeped into me before realising the influence it has on my personal take on Steampunk.”
Whitby Steampunk Weekend began last year and seemed to hit the ground running with a busy daytime trading area and sensational evening event. It featured well known names in the culture such as Gurdybird, Victor & The Bully and Professor Elemental. The second episode went one better with a promenade march and not one, but TWO nights of entertainment. But what is Andy’s secret of success? He places it firmly on the shoulders of the community. “The Steampunk community is incredibly supportive and a lot of credit should go to everyone for sharing and attending the first Whitby Steampunk Weekend back in February 2017.”
But why February? It’s freezing and being on the coast, there’s the icy North Sea winds coming down from Scandinavia and the Artctic. “The date was deliberately chosen as there are very few other events on anywhere at that time of year which I think also helped, it certainly didn’t clash with other events in Whitby, and in choosing a winter date gives us chaps the opportunity of sporting tweeds!” Ok, so that’s a really good reason and I think I need to remember that for next year. Or just stay inside.
From the outset, Andy wanted traders to have more space for a more reasonable price. He also wanted to have the daytime events to be completely free of charge with free admission.
“I think a lot of the success is down to our trading colleagues who are truly magnificent and really got into the spirit of the event by sharing it on their Facebook pages too, and it was through their encouragement and the success of the first event that another was quickly organised for July 2017.
“I am lucky to have a brilliant collective of friends who willingly become assistants at the events to help the traders in anyway they can. The traders can get in the day before the event and set up, this takes a lot of pressure and panic off them so hopefully they can relax and just turn up before opening time, and we provide complimentary beverages for them over the whole weekend too to keep their spirits up (although the bar is open and it’s facilities enjoyed too).
Finally, I think the another reason is the beautiful town of Whitby itself, why wouldn’t you want to come here at any time of the year!?”
Andy and his wife Michelle have already established themselves in the steampunk community by trading at various events with their jam business Decadent Preserves. In fact I first met them at A Splendid Day Out in 2016. So why doesn’t Andy have a table set up at Whitby? “I want to be totally accessible, available, visible and ready to help and assist all who are kind enough to be a part of Whitby Steampunk Weekend, and personally I don’t think you can really give anyone 100% attention when you are serving your own customers from behind a stall.
Being a trader at other events I think has given me both an understanding and experience of what I believe should be the right way to look after your traders. Let’s face it, each event organiser has their own unique ways of running their events, and I am continually learning and looking at ways of improving mine with each event experience.”
His priorities are clearly with the people that support the event. I wanted to try and get a little secret information about what new ideas may be in the pipeline, but Andy kept his cards close to his chest. Still, he was willing to share some information with us, albeit ambiguous.“I have a few ideas which hopefully our visitors will enjoy, with some fabulous presentations and panels organised too to keep everyone within the Pavilion. There are a few irons in the fire but not confirmed as yet, and these will be promoted through the facebook page as they are confirmed.”
However, he was willing to share one nugget of information with us. Which sounds like it will be a great option to while away some time over the weekend. “With the event being held in a northern seaside town in the middle of winter, the weather may be changeable so I’ve also decided to show some classic films over the weekend in the beautiful Pavilion Theatre, and again these will be completely free of charge for our visitors to enjoy.”
Part Two of this interview with Andy Dolan from Whitby Steampunk Weekend will be published next week on 24/11/2017. In it we cover his involvement with the Sophie Lancaster Foundation, his future wishes for WSW and parts of his personal life. Bookmark Steampunk Journal and ensure that you follow us on Facebook and Twitter to keep up to date!
You can follow Whitby Steampunk Weekend via their Facebook page.