It’s been a long while since any of us has stood outside the Joiners, and even longer since any of us actually went in. So on Saturday 21st Jan, we decided to mark the two year anniversary of the closure of the pub…
Our friends from We Are The Black Cap campaign group – who hold a vigil outside the shuttered Black Cap every Saturday – came down to lend their support and show us how to make a scene. This entailed shouting ‘WE’RE HERE – WE’RE QUEER – WE’RE NOT GOING TO DISAPPEAR’ and enjoying the range of reactions from passers-by. Facial expressions varied from a puzzled ‘what is Joiners?’, to a bright ‘I used to go there’, via ‘get the f— out the f—ing bus lane.’
Standing outside the building was a good opportunity to look at how the area has changed in the last two years. New residential buildings have sprung up, seemingly designed to be as individually repugnant and collectively incoherent as possible, creating a noisy, unfinished and crowded rodeo from what was once a relatively cohesive and charming (if that’s not a dirty word) area of architecture. The new buildings don’t seem to have done much to add to an already vibrant commercial and residential area; in fact few (if any) appeared to have occupants yet. The looming threat of further “developments” hangs heavy, in cleared, fenced-off spaces on both sides of Hackney Road and – perhaps most terrifying of all – the defunct Mecca Bingo, which will be replaced with a 10 storey carbuncle.
It was also a good opportunity to consider what hasn’t changed: there are still people passionate (or deluded) enough to think that getting together and fighting for spaces to live, socialise, and make mistakes in is worth doing. This campaign group has been together for over two years now, and we are still finding new ways to make our voices heard – whether that’s through joining forces with other campaigns, or bothering our local and metropolitan reps, or nagging away at the developers and owners. Our message remains:
We’re not going to disappear.
Shout out to the We Are The Black Cap campaigners (Alex, Aoife, Rob, Jamie, Lazare and Chris), to London Live’s cameraman-on-a-bike (and his viewer(s)), to Richard, to Max, and to Calvin for joining us.