Much as I like South West London, it has a couple of big downsides. Primarily the lack of proximity to East London, which is where all the good stuff is. If you want some third rate DJ playing chart cheese while people in salmon trousers do non-ironic mumdancing, S Dubz is definitely the place for you. That isn’t to say we don’t have some good stuff over this way, but it all tends to fit a bit more into my ‘that was an absolute SCREAM’ category than the ‘that was a really chilled night’ one. Maggie’s is a scream. Beaver Lodge is a scream. Bunga Bunga is the screamiest.
But you catch my drift – if you want somewhere that isn’t quite so…well, so ‘hair n’heels’, then you’re going to have to venture further afield. Kopparberg Urban Forest was top of my hit list last Summer but I never quite made it along, so I made it top priority this time around. As with last year, they’ve created a sort of Scandinavian/East London composite, full of food stalls and wooden light fixtures decked out with foliage. Jam jars full of flowers hang near fairy lights, and there’s a little bandstand type thing in the centre that reminded me irresistibly of Groundhog Day.
The frozen strawberry & lime cider hit the spot after a long hot day and crammed Overground journey, and once we’d got hold of some sweetcorn fritter wraps, we started to unwind and enjoy our surroundings. DJs for the night were the awesome ‘Rock the Belles’, a kind of collective of female DJs, bands and artists, and they were playing an excellent selection of both old school and…new school (is that a thing?) hip hop. Now, being white middle class girls who went to private school in Sussex, my friend Sophie and I are quite obviously PRO hip hop dancers, so we really went for it. I mean, REALLY went for it.
Emily Rawson, founder of Rock the Belles, got on the decks for the last few hours of the evening, and played a bit of everything from Roots Manuva to Kendrick, plus an awful lot of stuff that I’d never heard before but danced like a loon to anyway. She was EXCELLENT and I highly recommend you looking her up if you live in London. The whole thing had an enjoyably 90s vibe, and to our delight we happened to see an actual, honest to god dance off unfold. Very relaxed at first, everything turned up a notch as it started to get dark, and the place really came into its own.
The Urban Forest finishes this weekend, and entry is FREE, so I strongly recommend you get yourself down there for the closing events. Just make sure you wear shoes you can dance in.