Ninjah is the hero Cardiff needs
And we need more eccentrics like him
Under cover of the murky and hazy darkness that stagnates in the smoking area of any club, I pull on a cigarette and scan through my phone. Buried within I find several photos from two nights prior, in particular a few that genuinely surprised me. Apparently I’d spent the later part of my night hanging out with Ninjah.
A quick recap for those not acquainted with Ninjah. Known to most of Cardiff for playing the bins on Queens Street, he’s also had music released, loves to sport some genuinely outlandish garms and is a constant feature of the city’s nightlife scene. He looks like a white-dreadlocked Maxi Jazz if he’d dedicated his life to Rastafarianism, insane fashion and psychedelics.
Anyway, I’d completely forgotten this strange facet of my night. It started to come back to me and as far as I can tell we spent about two hours wandering around town, completely oblivious to the spectacle we must have presented. Me looking the definition of nondescript in black jeans and Fred Perry jacket compared to Ninjah, an athletic giant of a man wearing a white trilby, skiing goggles and a Bobby George-style gold bling neck chain.
To be honest, I can’t remember a lot about our adventures together. In hindsight, from a journalistic standpoint I wish I’d been less wasted in order to pick the great man’s brains. But I didn’t. I do however have an unbelievably surreal video of Ninjah explaining how to make the perfect cocktail. There, on the banks of the Taff, deep in Canton, under a bible-black night sky, he revealed the secret ingredient for making a great drink. Turns out it’s a spark plug. A fucking spark plug.
If you want information on Ninjah I’m obviously not the man to ask. Here’s a great piece on him. What the meeting did inspire however was a realisation that he is the kind of character that Cardiff needs a lot more of. He is our sole equivalent of say, London’s Dancing Misanthrope or Bristol’s Big Jeff.
Bristol as a city must have more of these, lets call them ‘eccentrics’ than anywhere else. Besides Big Jeff, who’s gone to at least SIX different gigs a week for well over a decade now, there’s the legendary DJ Derek, who we all hope turns up safe and sound. These kind of awesome characters are so rife in Bris that if Ninjah moved there he’d have to work especially hard to even be noticed.
To be honest though I’m not sure Ninjah even wants to be noticed. OK, tribal drumming in the high street dressed in an Indian headdress and polka dot suit does imply there’s an element of exhibitionism to his persona. But the guy is as undoubtably genuinely off-the-wall internally as he is externally. He truly doesn’t give a shit, and that has to be admired.
But, in a way I’m glad that I didn’t learn too much about him. I love the enigmatic air that he carries, plus, over analysis kind of takes away the mystery. He’ll just turn up the rave at three in the morning, wearing a Venetian mask or whatever, and it makes for genuinely odd viewing. When you’re fucked up in the early hours, seeing him just adds up to a unique clubbing experience. You’ll briefly wonder to yourself; ‘am I really seeing this?’. It’s like he’s what happens when light hits a drug-dilated pupil in just the right spot, this incredible character is projected from our collective unconscious. Those times when you see him on the street are the equivalent of ageing hippies having acid flashbacks.
Researching this I saw on several forums people asking for information on Ninjah. Some of the rumours I saw doing the rounds included; he’s a millionaire, he’s transgender, he’s a frequent jailbird and that he’s been on a several decade long LSD trip. All of these could be true, or none, frankly I don’t care. I’m just glad he’s out there, doing his own thing and on his own terms. So next time you go out, say fuck it and wear some skiing goggles or throw on a zebra print zoot suit. Then one day you might reach Ninjah’s level of hagiographic notoriety. God knows we need more people like it.