Who else remembers The Blue Note, Hoxton?

I was born and raised in West London so the East was an alien land. Once I traipsed all the way over to the Scala cinema in Kings Cross for a party and walked back to Hammersmith with my sister. Not having Google Maps in those days, we worked our way home by reading the postcodes on street signs (NW = bad, WC = good).

In the 1980s, a school friend moved to Old Street and all we could ask was “Why?” We knew it was somewhere close to Whitechapel Road – and that was the cheapest property on the Monopoly board, right?

But then my centre of gravity changed. I got a place at City Uni and moved into a flat in Angel. My London compass swung round: after a childhood on the East-West District Line, the North-South Northern line became my axis.

The lift shaft at Angel tube station was the deepest in London and when you stood on the narrow platform, the trains would thunder in from both directions. The next stop down was Old Street. In 1992 my friend Dotun Adebayo told me he was starting up a publishing company there, in Hoxton Square.

Where?! I went to Dotun’s new office and all there was in the middle of the square was a great big rubbish dump. Most of the buildings were run down or derelict. In one corner there was a little club called The Blue Note, a tiny, trendy beacon of things to come.

Fast forward twenty years and wow, how it’s changed. You can’t move for clubs, bars and business start-ups. This part of town may have been immortalized in Nathan Barley and mocked by the Shoreditch Twat, the Hoxton Fin may be the epitomy of naff self-consciousness, and the world’s first popup shopping mall beyond parody, but the continued success of this area defies the critics.

Shoreditch House is one of the best members’ clubs in London with its own swimming pool on the roof (open air pools more decadent in London than LA – mainly because you can’t actually use them). Google and Microsoft have set up offices by Silicon Roundabout. Heck! There’s even a Pret on the once-shabby Great Eastern Street. Shoreditch, you’ve come a long way, baby! It’s a damn shame I’m now back in West London.

Disclosure: My short story, Hoxton Babylon, was published in Westside Storeys (Xpress, 2003)

4 thoughts on “Who else remembers The Blue Note, Hoxton?

  1. Jas

    I remember it well. I lived in the Westminster Halls in Hoxton in 1996…we frequented Blue Note often. I remember going to a house party near there and we had to pay to get in. Then I had my wedding reception in a bar down Rivington Street….went to The book club recently my how the place has changed……

  2. Jemima Gibbons

    Thanks for your comment Jas.

    Yes it’s changed SO much.

    Strangely enough, been listening to Goldie again today as his singer/ collaborator Diane Charlemagne just passed away…end of an era – but what a brilliant era it was!

  3. Alan Rashid

    Used to go to Anokha at the Blue note on a Tuesday night in 1997-98
    Wow it’s changed for sure . Was such a great vibe then

  4. Kenji Fuse

    I am a Canuckistanian (Canadian) who lived near Hoxton Square, 1996-97. I only went to the Blue Note once, on a Sunday (Bangra night – it was cheap and I was a cheapass student).

    I did frequent – nay, HAUNTG – that bagel place at least weekly. Usually close to 2am.

    I looked at the area on Google Maps recently, and didn’t recognize much. It looked way more uber-chromified, the current gentrification du jour.

    Hope to get back there one day.


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