Emerging from the underground to Brixton High Street will send even the most hardened Londoner into sensory overload. You’ll be met by ticket touts selling O2 Academy gig tickets, evangelistic street preachers delivering their daily sermon via megaphone and some pretty impressive buskers, not to mention the lingering smell of hot dog onions. Even right now, in the midst of lockdown, Brixton has a lot going on, and that’s why I love it.
We might not be able to experience the latest film release surrounded by the iconic art deco interiors of The Ritzy cinema, but the message on its board – ‘Ciao for now! Stay safe and healthy Brixton’ – gives passers-by a much-needed dose of positivity and the feeling that we’re all in this together.
Brockwell Park has become the local hangout. Head there on a Friday or Saturday night with a couple of beers from Brixton Brewery and you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d walked into the pub. Brixton residents are becoming increasingly familiar with every inch of its 125 acres, sussing out the finest spots for (socially distanced) walks, picnics and even dates.
Catching up with friends over a delicious meal at Pop Brixton or Brixton Village Market might be a little way off but, thankfully, Baba G’s, Halo Burger and Koi Ramen have all found ways to deliver from pop up kitchens in nearby pubs instead. And if you head over to Pop Brixton’s Instagram account you’ll find recipes, inspiration and content from a selection of the 49 small, independent businesses that usually trade there, from London Barberhood’s top tips for trimming your beard, to quarantine DJ sets from Reprezent Radio.
Community-focussed boxing club, Afawee, has transitioned from its usual home at Brixton Recreation Centre to a virtual space, now offering Instagram Live sessions on Saturdays, providing young people with the opportunity to release some energy, keep training and maintain some routine. Independent cooperative, Brixton Cycles, is also keeping us moving during this challenging time by providing repairs, services and equipment. Almost all of their merch and gift vouchers have now sold out as a result of more South Londoners adopting a two-wheeled Lycra-clad approach to getting around and they’re booked up for the foreseeable future!
In short, dearest Brixton, social distance has made my heart grow fonder of you and all the wonderful opportunities you offer, and I can’t wait to be properly reunited again soon.