Saturday, April 18, 2009

Dalston - a land fit for kings

For years, I would never have thought of Dalston as anything but a traffic jam where the Balls Pond Road crossed Kingsland Road and created delays on the journey to the Blackwall Tunnel. The move of the Vortex to Gillett Square of course created, perforce, a move to the area. The car park outside the Vortex filled up on Friday nights for the hard core African clubs and by day for Ridley Road market and the car wash team.
Of course, the Africans are still here, the Turkish restaurants are still fantastic, the Rio ploughs its furrow as one of the truly independent cinemas in London. And the Arcola is striving to be an eco-friendly as much as a creative friendly theatre. The drunks have been forced elsewhere, and some of the clubs have been closed down.
How much the area has developed as a centre of artists and clubs was brought home to me in force by the Land Of Kings event on Thursday and Friday this week. A dozen or so venues opening their doors and the Vortex packed to a bright young crowd for Oriole particularly yesterday night. Briony Campbell came round to do some photos of the team at the Vortex as part of a project photographing the venues in the area. The first few can be seen at the Arcola Theatre and she has identified 24 alone. The results will be posted up on the web soon and I'll put the details up when I have them.
Fortunately the recession means that these venues will grow steadily and strongly, but not too fast. And we hopefully shan't be overpowered by the Hackney Council glitz on Dalston Square, whenever that appears.
Today I'm off to open my shop as part of an event exploring our food through art. And will be drinking copious amounts of coffee at the Vortex to recover from a late night. With finally, a performance by the amazing Six Strings and The Beat. Go Phil!

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