Continuing our London-centric editorial refocus we’re jumping on the overground to speed away from pastoral South London, toward the pearly gates of East London, where we’ll be honouring all things creative in Dalston; our area of the month.
Dalston was originally one of four small villages in the Parish of Hackney, and even housed a leper hospital during the Middle Ages. Like the rest of London, it gradually grew with urbanisation and industrialisation during the 19th Century until it became a bustling suburb. Immigration from Jamaica, Turkey, Vietnam and Poland during the last century has made modern-day Dalston a bustling multicultural area. It’s come a long way since the 90s too, when Patrick Wright wrote A Journey Through Ruins, his magnificent history of postwar Britain seen through the dusty arse-end of London that was Dalston.
But don’t panic, we’re not claiming to be at the cutting edge of London areas, the gentrification of Dalston is as well documented as Jeremy Corbyn’s choice of friends. Way back in 2009 Vogue Italia declared Dalston the trendiest, coolest, most caldissimo neighbourhood in London. However, after a few years at the top, the same seminal epithet that made Dalston a mecca for trendoids across London would also prove its undoing. A flurry of articles that lamented the so called death of Dalston were published; slane by the unlikely, yet effective duo of skinny jeans and mums, Dalston’s chic bubble had seemingly been burst.
The story is familiar for so much of London nowadays, but should we dismiss a area of London just because it's fallen victim to the cyclical nature of gentrification? We think not, because Dalston still has so much to offer and there still magic to be found amongst the ruins of Ridley Road...
My first experience of Dalston was a night out at Ridley Road Market bar. Set amongst a graveyard of commercial fish and other leftovers, it conjured up memories of early mornings on Queen’s Road Peckham. The interior was akin to an Dali painting; the cladded walls looks like hardwood floors, there was a still-life like orange display on the bar and the heat felt like it could melt clocks, and in a way it did as my first night in Dalston was timeless.
So this April we’ll also be forgoing a certain old ladies birthday completely, instead we hope to extol creative individuals who are carrying Dalston out of the ashes. We’ll be talking art, tattoos, drag queens, films and superstores.
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