March 30, 2015

Dalston: A Centre for Entertainment in the East End

Its reputation as the inspiration for the setting of Eastender’s Albert Square is just one of Dalston’s many claims to fame. Although it may have served as the muse for one of the nation’s most loved and most dismal soap operas, Dalston has a lot more to offer than your typical east-end market town.

Believed to be named after Deorlaf’s tun, meaning farm, Dalston was originally one of four small rural villages within the Parish of Hackney. It wasn’t until the 18th Century that Dalston began to leave its agricultural roots behind and the urbanisation of the village began.


That’s entertainment


In the 60s and 70s, Dalston was the place to be when it came to entertainment, with an abundance of cinemas and music halls. To this day, it retains its proud heritage as the entertainment capital of London, being home to Rio Cinema, one of the last remaining independent cinemas in London.


The village’s connections to the entertainment industry don’t end there. Dalston has been proudly featured in movies such as Run Fat Boy Run, TV series including The Mighty Boosh and Dr Who and music videos – Britney Spears famously shot the video for her hit single Criminal here in 2011. It’s inspired numerous songs too, including Razorlight’s ‘Don’t go Back to Dalston’.


With such lofty show biz credentials, it’s no wonder that artists and musicians flocked to the vibrant town. It became home to many avant-garde fashion designers, artists and celebs looking for the place to be and be seen.


In 2009, Dalton was named the “coolest place in Britain” by the Guardian, officially sealing its fate as the village of the in-crowd.


Ever since, Dalston has been in a phase of rapid gentrification. With quirky cafés like Tina, We Salute You and Café Oto (described by Italian Vogue as the coolest café in London), vintage shops and clique hangout spots like the Dalston Superstore, Dalston was more hipster than a pop-up cereal bar.


Evolving diversity in Dalston


Multi-culture has long been at the heart of Dalston. Over the last hundred years, the village has been home to communities ranging from Jewish immigrants to Caribbean and Turkish settlers.


But whilst its ethnic mix is still evident in the diverse range of restaurants and bars on offer, there is a new crowd in town. Property prices have been rising in Dalston over recent years and the creative types it was once known for are slowly being priced out of the area.


A more middle-class, family community is taking its place. The area is perhaps becoming a little more ‘young professional’ and a little less ethnically diverse than it once was.


Dalston still has the heart, the hubbub and the lively night life though. It hosts an annual Land of Kings music and arts festival and in the summer locals can enjoy the Dalston Roof Park – a 5 storey factory roof converted into a garden complete with decking and bar, hosting live music, movie screenings, supper clubs and yoga classes.


It even has its own Olympic-sized outdoor pool which is open year round. And, of course, Dalston still has its East-End style fruit and veg market which was established in 1880.


Dalston may have inspired the famously grim Walford, but the real life version is far more colourful and vibrant than its grey, on-screen homage.


So if you’re looking to make Dalston your home, get in touch with our Hackney office today.


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