People have woefully observed the steady decline of Camden in London, England. I use the term “decline” very loosely (not to say that it is actually in ruins or anything); “decline” in this instance means the mere toning down of the place: standardization, mass- marketing, uber commercialization. Most of these observant people blame the crackdown on hiked- up rent prices which drove Camden’s original settlers away, or inflation, and probably the mad influx of tourism with which came the latter two. This was surely a far cry from 10 or 20 years ago when Rudies and punks at least had the decency to get piss drunk and make a jolly mess of it on the streets! Oi, oi!
What was once a destination for colorful and interesting lots of misfits- people for independent music and fashion, the punk and Rude Boy lifestyle, la vie boheme, etc- is now fast becoming another tourist trap with long stretches of I-heart-UK souvenir shops; streets littered with vacationers waiting for photo- opps with mohawked punks. I happen to be one of these annoying tourists… I, with the semi- pro camera around the neck and an over- eager expression on the face… for shame!
Camden was actually kind of a let down, to tell you the truth. Maybe I put too much stock in it with its past reputation- Madness gigs! Artsy- fartsy market finds! Indie, low- key events! Maybe it was simply bad timing (we went there at night, hoping to catch a Ska gig. No luck in that department, either.). Maybe it’s just the times (refer to the previous paragraphs above).
Good thing there’s the East! As if taking a page out of actual socio- economic studies around the world today, London’s proliferation of all things cool has shifted powers to the East: Aldgate, Aldgate East, Shoreditch, etc.
One Sunday afternoon, we took our poseur- driven selves to the markets of Brick Lane near Aldgate East and Liverpool on the eastbound Hammersmith/ City Line Tube.
We were not disappointed. Only in want of more time.
Photos 3, 6, 7, 9, 10, 12, 14, 16 by Jawo Bolivar.
PHOTOGRAPHY & TEXT BY AUTHOR UNLESS OTHERWISE STATED. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.