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Review: Streetfest

PUBLISHED: 13:00 10 October 2009 | UPDATED: 15:01 05 October 2010

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UNDER a grubby tarpaulin in a disused Shoreditch carpark, a group of skaters, DJs and artists brought together a community of like-minded souls a year ago to celebrate all things street. A year later Streetfest is going stronger than ever, as the third ge

UNDER a grubby tarpaulin in a disused Shoreditch carpark, a group of skaters, DJs and artists brought together a community of like-minded souls a year ago to celebrate all things street.

A year later Streetfest is going stronger than ever, as the third get-together on Sunday evening made clear.

The event began as an outlet for local artistic talent in film fashion and photography, with a big skate rink to keep local youths out of trouble. It proved wildly popular with the community, and spawned follow-ups last May and this weekend.

Taking inspiration from New York's block parties, music plays a big part, including self-styled "Guerrilla Busker" Kerry Leatham and DJ sets from Holic and RHIL.

Metropolitan Police praised the event as totally "peaceful", though ambulance crews were on standby all night for skating injuries.

What's odd about this celebration of urban life and underground artists is that it attracts everyone from scruffy raver types to parents with young children.

Ros Kramer said her daughter and her friends' kids had a great time: "They like watching the skateboarding and listening to the music, so there's enough to keep them entertained."

Streetfest stands out as a quirky remix of gritty urban life with a Bohemian flavour, as Jasinta Gordon, PR and Events Coordinator, explained: "What Streetfest is all about and what sets it apart from other festivals is that it brings originality and creativity.

"It's a creative outlet for the community, and things like this are needed. At the end of the day we encourage an entrepreneurial spirit.

"The recession is proof that going into a mainstream job isn't always the safe bet - you never know what's going to happen. What we're saying is do something you enjoy, something you love."

Streetfest provides that enterprising edge by mashing together big name sponsors like Adidas and G-Shock with local businesses and up-and-coming artists. By piggybacking on the brands of some of the big-name sponsors, local entrepreneurs found they could gain strong media exposure.

One Shoreditch start-up doing just that was Voodlenation, a user-generated film and animation company.

Given the theme "street", partygoers were asked to find interesting scenes from nearby locations and create Voodles, or "video doodles". Voodlenation screened the films in a makeshift cinema, allowing aspiring Soderberghs to share their creations and win Flip cameras and cash prizes.

Co-organiser Steve Wheen said all you needed to participate was a mobile phone camera.

"Saying 'short films' has connotations - like it has to be well shot or telling a story. But this could be two or three shots from your camera."

"It doesn't matter how they capture it, it's that they're sharing it."

Stuart Smith, manager of Lovenskate, a Hackney-based skateboarding company, says the ethos of audience participation and feedback keeps bringing him back to Streetfest.

"I love the festival, that's why I'm into it. It's like a little family.

"Last time we sold a lot of stuff, I think there's about four times as many people here this time."

Gregor Hunter

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