There is a war on in London between those who value the city's historical music venues and those who want them replaced by more economically rewarding things, like high-speed crossrails and luxury flats that will remain empty 360 days of the year. Soho's Denmark Street aka Great Britain's Tin Pan Alley has been a legendary music spot since the 20s, but in no short time we'll be discusing its legacy as a vibrant cultural hub in past tense.
In Dcember, the 12 Bar Club was given its notice to vacate it's west London home on Denmark Street as part of redevelopment plans for the area. Despite a lengthy battle to keep it open, it officially closed on January 16 and moved to a new location in Islington, but for some, that wasn't a good enough compromise. A group of protesters calling themselves The Bohemians started squatting in the abandoned venue, both in a bid to save it from demolition and to inspire others to unite to save Soho.Filmmaker Tali Clarke has made a documentary called A Riot Of Our Own, which follows the final days of the 12 Bar Club and the people who fought to preserve it. Writing on YouTube, she says:"Live music is something I live for, and I wanted to share that feeling. The venue and the music it nurtured not only inspired a whole community to sing, dance, shout, laugh and cry, but to fight for what they believed in; even for those not directly involved with the place during its tenure, it became a symbol of unrelenting realness, as something of the people for the people in a changing society that increasingly feels like it's being taken from us and sold off piece by piece. Much like the venue itself, this is a loud, beer soaked, visceral little film that documents the history, the music, the people and their voices."Talking to Londonist earlier this week, Clarke said: “In documenting the 12 Bar I also aim to help highlight the plight of similar places all across the city; small independent businesses are being closed down in their droves, and each one has a story and a completely alive community attached. It’s not a case of nostalgia or standing in the way of progress, it’s very much a beating heart that’s being ripped out. The idea that it’s just a bar, or a club or any old place that can be removed or replaced is not correct, these places hold great cultural importance and in fact it’s more akin to community displacement. There’s also a real need to preserve cultural heritage in all areas, not just certain types of buildings and the type of British culture that’s a bit more squeaky clean and commercially marketable.”“The practice of re-packaging cultures and trends that were originally of the people for the people, and selling them back to us is not new, but now more than ever we need to embrace the uniqueness and importance of each others’ communities and fight to keep them as our own.”Watch the documentary below and read more about it on Clarke’s website.Follow Emma on Twitter.