Who’s heading to London Below this Sunday? I’m looking forward to trying out the latest addition to the wonderful world of alternative markets, not just because, well, subculture does it for me and always did, but because the name itself has such resonance.
OK, there’s probably enough of you out there who love Neverwhere to get the primary reference, but how many people know the theory (I have never heard it confirmed as fact) that the Market Afloat featured in the TV series was itself inspired by the original Whiplash Market, the first of the London-based fetish/fashion/alternative events?
There was a point, not that long ago, when Whiplash and the London Fetish Fair, along with the BBB in Birmingham and Swamp in Bristol (and a couple of other attempts elsewhere) were the lonely or newbie kinkster’s only point of call, only source of information and new friends. Even with the coming of online variations of every subculture imaginable, the markets and fairs were still the day out of choice for a lot of people – if you had met someone tempting online, agreeing to hold your first RL encounter at a market was the easier, safer, much less threatening option. You didn’t have to dress up in your fetish finery, you weren’t going to be stuck with nothing to talk about, and if your date turned out to be disappointing, there was the option of buying yourself a cheer-up present if you didn’t find anyone else interesting to talk to.
You could add to that the deeper level of mythology or at least collective storytelling about markets as special, separate, exciting and potentially dangerous (in a good way, mostly) places which has been going on for centuries. OK, not going to quote the entire Christina Rosetti poem but I can’t resist mentioning the nazareth market in Ben Aaronovitch’s magnificent RIvers of London books – once again I found myself thinking both of the Whiplash days and Neverwhere.
So why not head down to Dalston on Sunday? If nothing else will tempt you, I do have sellable, signable copies of both my latest books