A lady stands on stage breathing fire, behind me are booths filled with people having the most intricate designs inked onto their bodies and it's only 11 in the morning.
It's my first visit to annual Tatcon held at the Norbreck Castle.
Event takes place over four days and I attended on the Sunday. I collected my wrist band and entered the first room of the convention. It was set out with stalls and tables and chairs as a chill out zone. The stalls ranged from cake and fudge producers, clothing, skin treatments and a company that makes custom chairs for tattoo studios. Along one side of the room was a shooting gallery with the chance to let rip with air soft pistols to fully automatics.
The corridor to the main room contained a table full of taxidermy birds of all shapes and sizes. They would not suit my home decor but they did look great.
When I entered the main room the scale of the convention hit me there are rows of booths each with a different tattoo artist and their set up. It was interesting to look at the portfolios of the artist and the quality of the work was staggering. As I walked along the lines of booths the breadth of styles became obvious the only constant was the quality.
At the end of the room was a large stage and the first act on was burlesque dancers. The act included fire breathing, balloon swallowing and sword swallowing.
The noise that the knife made as it hit the thick wooden board left me in no doubt about the danger of the act. The board that they embodied in was held across the torso of the glamorous assistant. If the knives were not dangerous enough the act progressed to very solid looking axes thrown either side of the assistant.
I took another tour of the booths and again was really impressed by the quality of the artwork and also the chilled attitude of the recipient. One man was actually asleep as the artist continued to work on a large back piece.
It was now my turn to pick up the needle. I pulled on a pair of black disposable gloves tested the foot peddle and dipped the vibrating needle into the small pot of black ink. My left hand stretched the skin as my right directed the needle to complete the lettering. I finished the lettering with a new respect for the artists. I did enjoy the piece of banana left from the skin I had just tattooed.
On the main stage a band played classic tracks with the guitarist striking some great rock star poses.
The last act that I watched really made me want a drink. The performer swallowed swords allowing a member of the crowd to remove it demonstrate it was a solid metal sword. He also was able to hit a straw held in a volunteers mouth with a bull whip.
I would like to thank the organisers for the invitation and for looking after me during the day. I have nothing but for respect for the skill of the tattoo artists.
Also thank you to the clients who were happy for me to watch and photograph them as they received new tattoos.
It was also really good to meet up with members of Ican who were supporting the event and the fellow photographers had plenty of opportunities.
Thanks again to all at Ink Den Tattoo Blackpool.