If you live in Dalston, and are reading this blog, when was the last time you were in a pub with someone
A) Over 35
B) Under 25?
We are wondering if Dalston might need to branch out. Specifically, the DLR is interested to see if there is a phenomenon we might call age homogeneity (hom-age-neity?): another form of stratification we might add to class, ethnic and political lines that already mark and typify neighbourhoods. This has come to our attention after witnessing the yearly influx of pale, pasty people back into the streets and parks of East London (where do they all come from? how do they all know what day to buy a picnic?) now that the sun is out.
We know the progression, from Shoreditch, where young people keep it livid
to Broadway Market/London Fields, where cans of Red Stripe are replaced by bottles of Belgian beer
and finally to Stoke Newington, where people go to die (well, have children).
It’s clear, of course, or should be by ‘pasty’, that we are talking about the people who have recently moved into the East End: those riding the gentrifying tide of the last ten to 15 years. But what are the effects of this hom-age-neity? If you are surrounded only by those of your own age, do you never realise you are getting older? Will the Royal Oak always seem like the best Saturday night option, embalmed in honey-dew ale? Does it contribute to people deferring ‘adulthood’ (by which we mean mortgages and babies)?
The downside of all homogeneity, political, ethnic or otherwise, is that people become ratified in their self-image, believing that all people are like them — all people love buying organic pork sausages and sundried, hand-massaged olive loafs on a Saturday, right? Right? — because this notion is never challenged by any other images. There has been much overlap between aesthetic and political theory recently, in order for art to understand how it might articulate itself politically, and for political theory to think through new means of how power and politics operates, and one of these ways has been the concept of the distribution of the sensible: crudely put, those who are most able to be seen, or sensibly apprehended, are those who have the most power. If the most visible people in a neighbourhood were all born in the same five years, how does this transform everyone else’s lives? On an economic level, if most of those people are the ones with the most purchasing power, then all shops and services will cater to that demographic: meaning all storefronts in Shoreditch will be boujis shops and bars, and all storefronts in Broadway Market gastropubs and cheese shops. What a horrifying vision of the future.
Urban analysts, by the way, count single men as the most valuable to a city, as all their income is discretionary (they’re not saving up for anything) and they tend to spend it like water. On this measure, Shoreditch is doing very well. Be jealous, dear Dalston!
Hom-age-neity also implies a certain rootlessness, moving every few years once everyone around you has fewer wrinkles (or you have more), which begs the question — where do you go after Stoke Newington? Or in other words, what are the long-term effects of this single-age demographic gentrification going to be? And how much longer can one be surrounded by people just like oneself? It’s driving us mad, indoors, and mad.
We’ll see everyone, in any case, in Stokey eventually.