Saturday, 5 February 2011

24 Our Party People

Of course it’s all coloured by the fact that I am falling hopelessly in love with someone, but last night’s reggae party at my neighbour’s house was the best yet for me. Proper sound systems, decks, curry and homemade cocktails in the kitchen….

So this is a few words in praise of my Bloody Brighton, the one with its roots in the anarchist bookshops and cafes of the 80s, the hippy diaspora and the working class local politics of the estates.

“You actually know all your neighbours!” one girl exclaims to me. Most of my neighbours are with me on the dance floor, along with many others drawn in through friendships and the new social media networks.

 This is Emma’s house. The other side is Amy, who also hosts great parties, American Amy, who lives in a caravan in the first Amy’s drive and Tallulah from the same end of the close. Its crammed with writers, thinkers, community activists, and the kind of party lovers I used to know from the Section 47 raves in London. My kind of people.

“I live in Notting Hill,” the girl continues. “No-one knows anyone. At night it’s dead – all private clubs.”

A few years ago, some Sunday filth-sheet did an expose of this estate, trying desperately to make it sound like a cross between Beruit and LA Watts. “Yeh, you gotta carry a blade round here for protection,” some hoody sniffs to the encouraging scratch of the journalist’s pen. Total bullshit of course. We had a few problems with bored youf a few years back. People here got organised and something got done. We have a community centre and youth activities now.  The rather aggressive lad with learning difficulties who used to kick a ball up and down the street all day now has a job on the bins. He looks proper made up, I’m told.

In Notting Hill the solution would be to lock them out.

Actually, that’s unfair. This kind of community spirit, part bohemian, part working class self help, exists in abundance across London. I saw it in Camden when I used to write about that area. Follow the basslines into the house parties, the dimly lit community halls, the surreal protests and the sheer joy of being alive and not thinking that life is happening elsewhere, behind a locked gate.

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