London, we need to have a word. It’s about your ongoing usage of the term “trendy”.
Since announcing my decision to move to Hackney a couple of months ago, this word has followed me about like a bad smell.
In fact, mere mention of Dalston (living there, going out there, passing by in plane) seems to cause anyone over the age of 21 to immediately blurt out “ooh, trendy” – a phrase they probably haven’t heard spoken aloud since the late 1990s. And all this about a place which, when paired with the word “beard” in a Google search, delivers a website called http://everyoneindalstonisweird.com (true story, try it).
In reality, if you pass through Kingsland High Street post-2am, you’ll be greeted with something that’s less trendy (i.e. lots of cool people hanging around looking nonchalant, bragging about their Dior socks – that’s the definition, yeah? Ok, maybe not.) and more… Red Stripe wielding folk wobbling around outside unmarked, ramshackle looking doorways, all having a jolly good time. You know, kind of like they do in the rest of London’s big night spots (apart from Mayfair. Between the pouting faces and botox, it’s hard to tell if anyone’s having a good time there).
Having only moved to the area a month ago, my first experiences of Dalston after-hours were on the night bus back home from somewhere else. Two characters in particular stood out:
There was the bloke who threw up on the top deck of the N76, before staggering off and being propped up by his Strongbow sipping mates outside Dalston Superstore, and the long-haired bloke in a questionable leather jacket, swigging from a bottle of Jack Daniels on the bus while his girlfriend all but humped his leg as they stood by the doors. He then gave me a big, sarcastic wave as the bus pulled away having taken offense to me glancing in their direction. They weren’t trendy. They were just rude.
Since then, I’ve been out and about and talked to people who can stand up, and they’ve all seemed very – how can I say this – normal.
That being said, I can sort of see where this “trendy” thing comes from. Namely, 40 year old journalists given the job of pigeonholing areas for city roundups, and the reviewers from Time Out London, who use the words “hipster” and “mustache” at least once in every review within a mile radius of Kingsland Road.
But hey-ho, I’m probably fighting a losing battle here, so I’ll conclude: if by “trendy” you mean a distinct lack of identikit Burton t-shirts, no signage above any of the bars and clubs (which are nearly all below street level), and lots of hammered yet fairly harmless people scooting around from place to place until the very early hours, whereupon they throw up on the night bus home and go back to Stokey, then yes. I suppose it is.
But for the record, mustaches aren’t mandatory and milk bottles were made for cocktails.
And anyway, whatever label you want to give it, I think I’ll stay. Because Dalston, I know we’ve only just met…but I sort of like you.
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