Is extremity passé? Pre-Crossrail Soho thinks so. F**k nurturing nonconformity – now, it’s virtually a shoot-on-sight thought crime. Don’t believe it? Think again; clubs, landlords and speculator scumbags w**k themselves raw for imminent, sky-high rents. Forget Soho’s mass misfit culture spanning centuries – this is Ebola economics, toxic to anything but itself.
Forget Bohemian heritage. Those stinky, if beloved, Soho streets – strip-mined of any meaning but money – are being massacred by real-estate morons. It’s systematic, social abortion, a vicious kick in the pregnant belly of deviant culture. Forget dissent – the future is Yummy Dummy Yakuzas en mass, brutal corporate clones sipping lobotomised lattes, Orwell’s perpetual boot in the face with added, f**k-you froth.
More vicious still, it’s deliberate, a long-term, strategic pacification sicker than stowaways falling from 747s. In common with deleting council tenants in desirable postcodes for lucrative redevelopment, any breeding grounds for debate also vanish. Notice a pattern? Not just gay bars and venues, but any establishment encouraging behaviour beyond ticked boxes.
And the first casualty? Arguably, the Colony Room, Dean Street’s lusciously depraved den of artists, whores and lost souls, closed in August 2008. Commandeered (no other phrase fits) by the dulcetly vulgar dyke of distinction, Muriel Belcher – a typical greeting was ‘Alright, c**ty?’, despite actual gender – the club festered, Addams-family style, one taut, confining, sludge-green upstairs room with attached bar and drug-dusted lavatory. Part confessional, part pick-up joint and liquid muse Mecca for regulars Francis Bacon and his ilk, a utopia of free expression regardless of gender, desire or class, the Colony was Soho personified, the rank piss on a Duke’s pantyhose.
Which meant what, precisely? Oh, everything that bigoted, reactionary wage-slaves hate – blanket irreverence and relishing life’s quality, not quantity. Puking, farting, publicly squirting spunk, Soho, at best, was life raw, erudite, and flawlessly finessed at level ten on Viagra.
No longer. There’s a creeping disease – scorched-earth stupidity – alive and necrotising Soho daily. It’s called greed and property profiteering in the wake of London Transport’s Crossrail project gutting the area. A prime example? One neighbouring club – and here discretion demands anonymity– which as an amiable, if less intense, but enjoyably polysexual version of the Colony – which suffered appallingly.
Acquired by interests blatantly misunderstanding the letter B in Bohemianism to mean business, it became a pressurised, bums-on-seats cash-cow overnight. Previous founder memberships were revoked en mass, the boozy Dylan Thomas ambience severely discouraged, and every expansive inch of unprofitable eccentricity press-ganged into table-service. Result? A win-win for mediocrity par excellence; Hello to the least welcoming, fleecingly expensive, stunningly intolerant faux-Starbucks in town.
If only the scummification – the Battery Farm Bohemianism beloved by non-entities – had died there. No such luck – Jojo’s, the Black Cap, Soho’s 12 Bar Club and more have been shot faster than US police suspects. And that’s despite non-stop, impassioned celebrity pleas. ‘Stop the destruction!’ Vivienne Westwood recently demanded. ‘London is a disaster! People hate it! Clubs and dives are going, going, gone’.
Exactly. It’s Artistic Abbatoir time ASAP, the ruthless culling of any possible activity not devoted to coining cash for city coffers. Who needs ISIS demolishing irreplaceable icons with Westminster Council in town? Insanely, Ruling Baron Bojo’s forgotten – or never knew – a society’s quality of life and civility is embodied by the amenities available. Not here; Tories despise the ‘useless embellishments’- like Culture and public toilets – encouraged by an inexplicably contrary Europe.
In any form, philistine bigotry is ugly, especially posing as benign gentrification. Given free rein – like right now- Cameron and pals prefer a dead-by-night London choked with brain-dead worker ants by day. Their ideal city? A walk-away, stay-away, w*nker’s wonderland with all the cachet of a mass urinal. It’s divide and rule, a classic dictator strategy; people terrified by job insecurity simply ignore minority plights and issues.
Well, so sorry, boys- we’re human beings demanding Humanity. Ever heard the phrase, while furiously deleting Human Rights from the statute books? If an ideal city – Paris or Rome – embodies all the poise, compassion and nurture vital to sexual, social and artistic diversity, then London 2015 is a psychopathic, brain-dead glutton, eating itself alive with greed. Do you – do we – truly want to barely exist, not live, in the rancid puke it’ll toss back as a bland, back-door Bohemia? No way, José. Stick it right back up where Bojo’s brain don’t shine. Just as Westminster’s done to Soho’s Rainbow wilting in the gutter. Poor Oscar Wilde; he’d be sobbing his heart out crying to the indifferent stars.
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