If you are a tourist in London and you think you might enjoy a place that seems to be pinned in a time warp crossed between the 1960’s and early 90’s then the town of Camden is where you want to be! This town has everything from the liberal, free-spirited hippies of the 1960’s to the grungy rockers of the early 90’s.Being the grungy hippie that I am, I felt right in my place while wandering through this inner-city town. Immediately when I came out of the Camden Town tube station, I recognized a distinct smell of cigarettes and stale beer, which is very different than that of the exotic fragrance smell that emits off of the posh citizens of the Chelsea area, where I am currently staying. Now as I think back on it, this should have been a point of reference as to where this journey would lead me.
The first place my journey took me was to the street markets. Camden has about six different large markets, which are magnets for tourists and young people. As you walk through the main entrances of any of these markets, you begin to feel as if you have been submerged into a cesspool of trendy clothing and funky music. The vendors are pushy, but always ready to strike a bargain. All it takes is a bit of haggling and friendly chitchat.
Once I cleared the crowd of people herding together in the markets and shook off the grungy cigarette smell, my brain jumped into gear and, without any predetermined path, I began wandering the intoxicating streets of Camden Town. Before even turning my first corner, I stumbled upon one of the cities Jazz venues.
Along with being know for it’s association with a trendy culture, Camden is also known for it’s fresh music scene. Beginning in the 1970’s, the town of Camden hosts a “Jazz Week” festival every year. Being that the town embraces such a hip scene, its population has come to be known as one of a Punk sub-culture, a culture that makes black leather, chains, neon-colored hair, and dreadlocks merely a fashion statement.
As I turn the streets and see people from all walks of life, I became aware of a vibe that exists within the town that I just could not put my finger on. On one side of the street exists a bar full of trendy hippies congregating on the sidewalk outside to tell stories and relax in the warm summer sun. On the other hand, there stands a music store right next to it that contains punks in leather gear and brightly colored hair listening to loud rock music. Maybe it is the fusion of these two different lifestyles into one picture that makes this town the cutting edge of all things thoroughly modern. Or maybe it’s the grungy guitar man on the street corner. Not the one sitting on the sidewalk asking those passing by to throw him some change because he showed up with a guitar, but the one dancing on the street corner with his guitar in hand and eyes closed, singing a song for those passing by who would feel it join with their soul just as he does. You can tell just by looking at him that he exists solely for the music.
There's no better time than now and there's no better place than Camden!