Monday, 25 June 2012
Hackney Weekender: the UK's biggest free music festival and official start to the London 2012 Festival. Auntie delivered enviable hype around the event, taking over several of its media platforms, making the most of a roster of big name DJs to talk things up. In the last few weeks its message has been an exciting one: "East London you're hosting the Olympics so we're giving you something back... and for free! You're a traditionally deprived area, we're going to put you on the map and under a spotlight, isn't it good!".
So many darlings of the UK music scene, Leona Lewis, Plan B, Maverick Sabre, Dizzee Rascal, are from E8 or East London, it all made perfect sense.
For me, an ex-resident of Hackney, I was hyped about the prospect of seeing the place in action away from the gentrification and middle class hipster takeover of so many parts of it. But while the BBC messaging was directly to the underclasses of the area, the people partying their rocks off were distinctly not.
Generic Kate Moss-wannabe festival clones (read denim hot pants and Hunter wellies)? Check. Complete oblivion to the level of street sense required by the area, hence an indignation at the hold up caused by airport style metal detectors? Check. (Overheard: "What! Do they think they're Heathrow?". Reality: there were five stabbings in Hackney in just 24 hours last month.)
But it was all planned so well. So what went wrong? My answer? Admin...that definite preserve of the middle class.
To get a ticket you had to go through a Glastonbury style application process, pre-register with a photo then phone/apply online for tickets weeks later. To be honest, it was a bit of a palava and if I didn't have an overly organised mate driving the process, I really wouldn't have bothered.
The Beeb's intent was admirable but the reality is ...who likes admin anyway?