According to The Guardian, Dalston in East London is now the coolest place in Britain. For those not plugged into the ever-shifting tastes of the capital’s cultural elite, these designations can be confusing, primarily because the locus of edginess keeps creeping east. At this rate, by 2010 we’ll all be partying in the Isle Of Dogs, at which point someone will decide it’s a good idea to open a cavernous superclub inside the O2 (yeah, right).
The Big Pink: Dalston hipsters
Now, there’s a serious counter-argument to this – namely that, whereas guitar music might be flourishing in E8, all the most exciting things in clubbing are happening south of the river. But my objection is a more gut-level and instinctive one.
And it is this. Dalston is a wretched place – full of club nights with needlessly confrontational names like Ghettoslag, or Favela Bitch, or Daggerface, and populated exclusively by appalling knee-faced Seb Chew types and their shrieking maenad girlfriends.
Then there’s the DJ’s, uproarious tossers who think that seguing the latest skweeee 12-inch into Survivor’s ‘Eye Of The Tiger’-with-a-donk-on-it (before turning round to high-five their equally reprehensible, coked-up public school buddies) makes them somehow cutting-edge and ironic, rather than obnoxious and deluded.
No-one ever looks like they’re having a good time at these places, presumably because they’re already anticipating the brutal end-of-the-night comedown – at which point everyone is spat out into a refuse-strewn alley and left to ponder which overcrowded nightbus they’d rather get stabbed on.
And it’s not even cheap. The point about ‘buzz’ parts of town is that they arise wherever rents are most affordable. The YBA scene of the late ’80s – Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst etc – arose around Brick Lane, because back then the area was run-down, full of abandoned warehouses ripe for conversion into studios (as opposed to being full of vintage fashion stores, Jack The Ripper walking tours and drugdealers, as it is now).
But in Dalston the gentrification seems to have arrived concurrently with the edginess, rather than following in its slipstream – which means it’s just as suicidally expensive to live and socialise there as it is anywhere in London, north, east, south or west.
Then again, perhaps this veneration of the East End us understandable when the alternative is a night out in Camden, and god knows only tourists, 16-year-olds and comedy Goths ever go there.
But what do you think? If not Dalston, what is the coolest place in Britain?