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Grassroots theatres and fringe venues - we love you!

Continuing with our popular Camdenist Culture Campaign

🎭 Supporting Camden’s brilliant stages

If you read Camdenist every week (which we know a healthy number of you do 😉), you'll be aware that in recent weeks we've been taking a deep dive into culture in the borough - and why it really needs us to get behind it, in whatever ways we can right now.

We began looking at the problem of historic pubs under threat of closure like never before (although there was a fair bit of good news to report too, at least locally, anyway).

Then we shone a light on the challenges facing the night time economy, and in particular the dwindling number of places to dance after dark in this supposedly world-beating city.

Again, there was good news in the mix, particularly the exclusive first story revealing plans for this brand new arts venue and nightclub, aiming to help revive the cultural heartbeat of the West End.

And now we’re turning our attention to the theatres, studios, venues, basements and backrooms, that all host amazing performances most nights of the year.

We’re speaking with many of them already for the next major article (dropping next week), so if you’re running a venue, or have something to add to the debate, do get it touch: [email protected] 

Meanwhile, starting today, we’ve teamed up with local events platform TownSpot to bring you a weekly selection of must-see highlights from stages across the borough.

TownSpot allows you to explore Camden like never before, bringing hundreds of local events, activities and community services together in one place, via the free app for Android and iPhone.

Download the app join the WhatsApp group alongside over 1,000 locals all discovering the joy of nearby happenings in Camden Town, Kentish Town and Belsize Park, combating loneliness, and feeling more at home than ever, too…


Theatre, dance, comedy and intrigue - all right on your doorstep this week

Dances Like A Bomb - The Place

Camdenist in partnership with

💙 Tonight and tomorrow (5th & 6th) at Theatro Technis 26 Crowndale, Indigo Giant, delves into the era of the British Raj, when vast swathes of the Bengali countryside were given over to the cultivation of the indigo plant, and the slave conditions required to harvest it triggered an extraordinary revolution.

🎤 Sunday night (7th) at the Museum of Comedy sees the return of Irish stand-up Al Porter. He’s back playing huge gigs after a 6-year hiatus to get himself sober, so expect a story of messing up big time, and how to come back.

🎼 Returning to Camden People's Theatre (Tues 9th - Sat 13th) after selling out in 2023, That's Not My Name is 75 minutes of ‘complete carnage’ in the form of stand-up, sketch and musical comedy, speaking to the insanity of psychiatry, labels and our mental health system.

🎭 Catch the world premiere of The Divine Mrs S, playwright April De Angelis’ hilarious backstage comedy on the the origins of celebrity culture in the 1800s, before fame automatically granted wealth and power. Runs to 27th April at Hampstead Theatre.

🩰 Celebrating the strength of mature bodies and challenging the cult of youth, Dances Like A Bomb is an uplifting duet about reclaiming the ageing body, created by dance-theatre innovators Junk Ensemble, showing at The Place Fri 12th and Sat 13th.


☕ Honest Grind do coffee with social impact, and culurgiones pop-up in Kentish Town

A plate of Sardinian ravioli ‘culurgiones’ at La Canistedda

Still on the theme of our local performance spaces, a new cafe concession has just opened in the foyer of Euston’s community arts hub, the Old Diorama Arts Centre.

Honest Grind offers a lot more than quality coffees and tempting pastries on the counter, though.

It’s actually a Camden Council initiative to offer a ‘radical employability programme for London’s most vulnerable young people’, training them in roasting and barista skills.

The partnership with the ODAC is their first foray outside of the Somers Town basement where the beans have been roasted over the last year, and we hear all about this exciting project in today’s big interview feature. It’s a heart-warming read - and do make sure to order a bag or two of their amazing blends for your morning brew.

The latest intriguing pop-up to make use of the Tolli Cafe space opposite Kentish Town tube station is La Canistedda, specialising in the humble but iconic culurgiones, a form of ravioli hailing from the Ogliastra region of Eastern Sardinia (pictured above, mmm).

Similar to dim sum dumplings, but stuffed with fillings like creamy potato, pecorino and fresh mint, a simple menu featuring a selection of this centuries old food, including sweet options, can be tried - but hurry, they are only around until next Sunday.

🌮 Ottolenghi collaborator Ixta Belfrage has created a special menu available in the ground floor restaurant at The Standard in King’s Cross for the next three months. Dishes combine bold flavours from Brazil, Mexico and Italy - including her signature king prawn and habanero lasagne - all of which got website Hot Dinners excited enough to pen this glowing, tempting report this week.

🍽️ The people behind all-conquering Middle Eastern spots Berber & Q and Shawarma Bar are opening a second branch of their Eastern Mediterranean focused Carmel at Market Place off Oxford Circus from Monday (8th). Expect more of the small plates that have made the Queen’s Park original a big hit.

🥨 London’s first cafe dedicated to Mexican churros has just opened in Covent Garden. Aguameil promises to augment their coils of deep fried dough with spice-infused hot xocolate, and are also doing saritas, aka ice cream churro sarnis…

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Photos, clothes and seeds

Are We There Yet? is the latest group exhibition at Camden Open Air Gallery by four London-based photographers urging a deeper appreciation for the creative life, and for those daring enough to embrace it amidst societal indifference. It opens on Friday 12th with a free private view event with casual drinks and a DJ later on.

👕 Preloved fashion heroes We Are have one of their famous kilo sales in the big church at the heart of Covent Garden piazza: St Paul’s, aka the actor’s church, running today and tomorrow.

🌱 Celebrate the arrival of spring and the growing season with a free seed swap event up at Highgate’s lovely OmVed Gardens all day on Saturday - book a free ticket here and learn more about seed saving and their living library.


Live and unleashed this week

Cassyette at the Scala

🎙️With 19 solo LPs under his belt Ayo Bamidele is a singer songwriter who has often been compared to artists such as the late Richie Havens, Terry Callier and Bill Withers. Catch him at KX music pub The Harrison tonight.

🎸 Merseyside hero Ian Prowse is guitarist and frontman of Amsterdam and previously of indie cult band Pele. His solo live shows have gathered him a reputation as the ‘Scouse Springsteen’ amongst his fans, so see if you agree on Sat (6th) at West Hampstead Arts Club.

Kamikaze Test Pilots headline a night of typically uproarious rock and metal at Camden Town backstreet boozer The Black Heart on Saturday (6th)

🎤 Alternative UK rap artist Saiming is making waves with his distinct style of intricate rhythms of neo-grime with mellow, sample-centered and bass-heavy beats. He’s at Roundhouse Studio on Thursday (11th)

🔥 No-holds-barred Essex-born Cassyette is loudly and unashamedly reclaiming her rock roots making infectious alt-rock pop, alongside also winning ‘Best Breakthrough Act’ at the Heavy Music Awards. She takes over Scala on Thursday (11th)


Mind your head

The weekly column: reflections on living, working and playing in the borough…

WEDNESDAY: Walking through a wind-swept Coal Drops Yard our eye was caught by a new resident on the terrace - that’s the elevated one that currently has a big Hicce-shaped hole in it’s line-up. Self Space is a contemporary therapy service offering drop-in mental health ‘maintenance’ for individuals and organisations, usually hosted from high street locations. They are here in King’s Cross throughout April and into May to host a series of events on topics such as anxiety, grief and intimacy. Inside, the space looks suitably calming, with comfy seating, witty merch and thought-provoking books to browse and buy. It feels akin to an walk-in on-demand reinvention of the sadly now online-only School of Life back when it had a similarly attractive bricks and mortar site on nearby Marchmont Street. This thoroughly modern interpretation of what a mental health service looks like and offers is a good addition to CDY, coming off the back of the area hosting the wellbeing focused Mind Your Brain season, which brought in attractions including the locally-based Zen Project yellow US school bus and the Slow Motion sauna.

I’d been listening to this podcast moments earlier when walking beside the canal, hearing legendary relationships therapist Esther Perel speak on ways of navigating the world of digital technology. She suggests that today’s perceived ‘epidemic’ of mental health issues might better be considered as a natural human stress response to the impact new tech is having on our very humanness. As anyone (everyone) trying to relate to someone distracted by their phone will attest, she’s probably onto something.

With so many of the big guns in the world of AI also clustered around here, you might say the neighbourhood is pushing at the frontiers of our minds from all sides. Let’s just hope that the work at calm little places like Self Space can help us navigate the vast new mental challenges barreling towards us courtesy of the brains inside the likes of DeepMind and the Turing Institute.

In every way, watch this space…


📊 This week’s 1-click poll

How do you feel about King's Cross emerging as such a hotbed of Artificial Intelligence (AI) development?

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Low Traffic Neighbourhoods are here to stay, but what do you really think of them?

Love them
🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 57%

Hate them
🟨🟨🟨⬜️⬜️⬜️ 26%

Kinda indifferent
🟨⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ 17%

For a borough with such low car ownership, we’re not surprised to see that LTNs are overwhelmingly popular among Camdenists. Yet there were more comments left complaining about them - the haters being, as ever, a vocal bunch. Here’s a selection from both camps…

Every time a road is closed or a turning blocked it feels like part of the city’s energy flow is being dammed and stifled. And the traffic just makes somewhere else busier.”

Cars and bikes do not work efficiently at low speeds and I do not see the justification for slowing up town. It’s another step to making owning a car for the rich while the poor are on stuffed on public transport.”

LTNs discriminate against disabled people who need car access to certain places, whether by door to door access, or needing things delivered and dropped off. ”

LTNs give our streets back to people instead of cars. ”

They make complete sense - very few people need cars in Camden, and this will hopefully move those who don't need them out of their cars and onto bikes/buses/trains.”

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