SOCIAL: A Conversation With My Hometown Dalston

Dalston 11.03.30 006 You were like a piece of art that nobody got; but I got you. But now you've changed. feels like my “home sweet home” went on one of those television makeover shows; and I no longer recognise her.

When was it that your black identity became well and truly diluted? I love melting pots; however, I loved your ‘blackness’, Dalston; and your refusal to be stewed.  Growing up, I loved how you was, like Brixton, a hub of black culture; a centre for the African diaspora. What happened to that hub? This experience and sentiment seems to be echoed  in conversations I've had with my Brixtonian friends; and even my Harlemite friends; who have also seen their communities face this dreaded change that gentrification creates. I guess the irony is that the afro Caribbean community are experiencing the same feelings felt by the original East Londoners when they saw their community flooded with a sea of black faces.

Also, I want to ask you something, Dalston? When did you become so loud? I miss your stillness; I miss your peacefulness of years gone past. You used to be like a ghost town at night. On many a night, I remember postponing my return home to just wander the streets and play with ideas; notebook and pen in hand. Now I’m surrounded by a cacophony of noise sprawling from the clubs and bars dotted around the area.

What I find most acerbic is that I remember when Dalston was seen as a dump and nobody would dare step into its borders. It was okay for the council to leave the community here (made up of mainly low-income families might I add); to fend for itself when Dalston was seen as the ugly sister; but now It’s been beautified, this community is no longer the perfect suitor for Cinderella; hence, why many off the community are being shipped off to Barking; with the promise of better housing.

Don’t get me wrong. I love what this new Dalston represents. There’s a new vitality in the area; there’s new investment; but that doesn’t stop me from missing the old (I even miss your old scent, Dalston).  I love your new artistry; you’re now the home to the middle and upper class who are adding something special to you; you’re now the home to amazing creatives; who are bringing art  into the environment; but I guess the situation is like a Mark Rothko piece with the two rectangles; the two shapes are equally beautiful to me but I prefer one of them a little more; and for me I miss the old Dalston. I miss you so much.