Festival review: The Walworth Festival

The Walworth Festival
Faraday Gardens, London, SE17
1 July 2006


Taking place in the heart of the Aylesbury Estate, south London, and organised on a shoestring by the InSpire community centre in partnership with other local voluntary and community groups, there was no ignoring this event, writes Mark Drinkwater.

As I approached Faraday Gardens the music was reverberating off the Aylesbury’s Soviet-looking concrete housing. The estate is one of the largest in Europe, and the neighbourhood is one of the country’s more deprived, with high levels of crime, unemployment, educational underachievement and teenage pregnancy.

Onstage came a succession of musicians and dancers, showcasing local talent. The main attraction was H20 dance crew who whipped up the crowd in a stunning display of street dance and told accessible, humorous stories through body popping and gravity-defying spins and somersaults.

My favourite performers were the dance troupe the MIA Dancers (Moving Into Age). Their average age is 70 and they’re the sprightliest septuagenarians I know, dancing to tracks by Barry Manilow and Rachel Stevens. It was a joy to watch them giving the former S-Club singer a run for her money as they danced to her hit My LA Ex.

There’s a large black community in the Aylesbury estate, and since Trinidad & Tobago and Ghana had been knocked out of the World Cup, it was great to see so many from the estate at the festival sporting England shirts on the day that team would suffer the same fate.

Every neighbourhood needs a chance to come together like this.

Mark Drinkwater is a community worker in Southwark, south London

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