99 Days of CounterCulture

I’m sitting in a Starbucks somewhere in the vicinity of Buckingham Palace. It’s a great location, I suppose, if you’re the sort of person who pisses themselves over the Changing of the Guard. But if you are, as I am, the sort who prefers to roll out of bed around midday and come limping back home (because your shoes haven’t been broken in, obviously) at 2:00 AM, then you know the curse of a sensible neighborhood. By all of this, I merely mean to excuse myself for not posting this three or four weeks ago. It’s not that I haven’t tried. I’ve just hated everything I’ve written about CounterCulture up until this point.

CounterCulture, by the way, is the reason I am at a Starbucks near Buckingham Palace rather than at a Starbucks near Potbelly Sandwiches. I’ve been going on about CounterCulture on Twitter and Facebook for a couple of months now, but tonight, for me anyway, it is finally happening. After I’ve seen it for myself at DIY w/ D&C tonight, I may be able to write about it more effectively myself. For now, I’ll let one of the organisers, Hannah Cox, speak for herself.


The Indie Handbook: Who are the people behind CounterCulture?

CounterCulture: Hannah Cox, Alex Brooks, Lee Denny and Alison Monk

TIH: What is the concept behind 99 days of Counter Culture?

CC: We wanted to interweave the best of the London arts in our eyes, music, art, theatre and and more in a exciting everchanging space. 99 days seem like a great defining number Edison once said “Genius: one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.” I guess in a way we are working really hard to provide London a new platform and experience thats our 99%.

TIH: Where did the idea originate? At what point did it go from being “just an idea” to a reality?

CC: Lee and Alex run a fantastic Music festival in London and wanted to bring the ideas and ethos of their event to a larger audience. They went to a secret party at the space and everything just came together. I was at a music festival with them in May and that’s when Alison and I came on board to help make the project a reality.

TIH: There are several special guests involved with the planning of the events. Who are some of these guest curators?

CC: We have some incredible curators such as established promoters such as ‘Short and Sweet’ who will be hosting a weekly film, art and creative space. But its also been fun working with people likw Megan Wellington a recent Uni Graduate from Manchester. Shes completely unknown and did an amazing final year project on her grandma. her sister is one of my best friends and she showed me randomly a bit of her work when I visited recently. I love the idea we are giving people a exciting new way to showcase their work – whether its a DJ playing in a incredible space or an artist creating an instillation piece.

TIH: Tell me a little about the venue. Have you had to do anything special to transform it into an exhibition space?

CC: The venue had been used in the past as a warehouse rave space so the basic mechanics of a venue were there like bar space and toilets. We had to completely strip down and rebuild the bars, paint the venue and install a sound and lighting system; The promoters who say the venue before it was painted can’t believe the change. Its still rough and ready but that’s how we like it!

TIH: Time Out recommended the launch event saying, ‘it’s all very cool and hipster’ (or something along those lines). Care to comment?

CC: HAHA!! What’s funny is if you put us all in a line up I don’t think you’d pick any of us out as part of the ‘cool and hipster’ crowd. Londoners will know what I mean by this. Its understandable to label the project like that I suppose and we have taken it as a complement. All we are trying to do is create a nice chilled out environment with no attitude which is what we felt the ‘hipster’ venues in London lacked. The biggest compliment I received at the launch was several people commenting on how nice the crowd was. If we can continue to attract that kind of customer it would be great.

TIH: On the Counter Culture blog, there is a post by Lisa Wright about the idea of counterculture. Now it’s your turn. What is counterculture?

CC: For me its about no hierarchy or exclusion. Its about being open to experiencing new things and your opinion being respected for that. If you don’t know a band or artist not being made to feel stupid but encouraged to learn about them. Its about giving up caring what other people think or what you think is cool and just working out what you like. There’s no agenda with counterculture it can be whatever you make it.
CounterCulture has been in full swing for some six weeks now and continues tonight with an event curated by my good friend Laura from Dimbleby & Capper (who you’ve encountered here numerous times before). CounterCulture runs through the end of the year.  So, if you’re around London between now and then, give it a go. There’s so much going on, it’s virtually impossible that you’ll nothing to tempt you.


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