Upstairs At The Department Store (restaurant)

Discussion in 'Brixton' started by ringo, Apr 4, 2018.

  1. Gramsci

    Gramsci Well-Known Member

    I've already done this in previous posts.
  2. whatwilldid

    whatwilldid Member

    I am sorry my attempt at humour has made you doubt how reasonable my demands for debate were. I will duly note that for future reference and check my tone down. I meant no offence.

    Sorry, Gramsci, I will attempt to do that now. My intention was to leave the message board altogether following 3Zero's message ("Rather than writing lengthy posts in support of Squires & Partners, who are quite literally the architects of the gentrification of that section of Brixton, why not spend that time researching some of the issues around gentrification, housing & poverty?") which I agree with - I have some time off before moving to a new job next week and I'll use some of that to inform myself better about these issues, rather than have an unpleasant time on a message board. THAT SAID (lol), I couldn't help myself in coming to see how this discussion has developed (curiosity is killing this cat) and I noted particularly that I didn't respond to you - mea culpa.

    I'm not particularly fond of hypotheticals like this, especially with people that I don't know - but I'll acquiesce. Should a left-wing government come to power and decide to expropriate Squires family of the department store, to turn it into community space for people that needed it, I believe that I would hold two competing arguments in my head.

    1) This is a good thing. The space can be better used by those who need it "more" than Squires, who currently are providing a high/luxury-end service that may never benefit most people in the locality in which they have established themselves.

    2) This is a bad thing. It sets a dangerous precedent for a government determining what "better use" is, and while the people of Brixton might gather 'round and cheer as the doors are removed from the hinges and community projects are given much needed space, would we have any guarantee that community space wouldn't be expropriated if it was determined necessary by this hypothetical left-wing government?

    I apologise for using further hypothetical scenarios to answer your hypothetical - but that is why I'm not fond of them.

    Ultimately, I think my view, having taken into account the two broad arguments above, is this: will the leftwing government allow the existing occupants (who spent millions making it habitable, including plumbing, electrics, etc) an opportunity to address the criticisms they were facing for not doing enough for their community, before the left wing government expropriates a building from a family-run business?

    There seems to be a bit of unresolved tension in these two posts - I have had a lot to say here, and yet I only joined a couple of days ago to have a go, mostly at Ed. And I may not even be a genuine poster! What does a genuine poster do? Is this a trick to get me on webcam?

    Well MJD must be very beautiful.

    Thanks for the support in this thread - it's nice to have some support when you join a new community, even if it is online. I do feel like some respondents on this thread have wilfully ignored the points that I've been making and distorting my view, and I really don't understand why that is. I understand that this is a sensitive topic, and perhaps I haven't communicated sensitively enough (again, I apologise for my earlier stab at humour). In fact, I would also like to apologise to Ed (sorry don't know how to link posters) for making reference to the amount of time that he spends on the message board. That was childish, and it certainly was ad hominem and I regret that - while I also regret any recourse to point-scoring, is it not fair to say that I have had a fair amount of Ad Hominem response to my posts, too?

    Given that I won't have been on here for several months until a few months time, I'm not entirely sure that it will have been worth my while responding to you as you requested, if you've already prefaced my response with a wary prejudice.

    Thank you, I don't either. Gramsci (much easier to link to a profile when you can just copy from a quote above!) seems like a very reasonable and interesting person to have a conversation with. But Gramsci isn't emblematic of the tone that one finds on this message board.

    That's exactly right. I did join specifically for this topic. I read the article on Brixton Buzz (which as a website I think is excellent, but lacks balance). This led me to the message board, and I read the whole thread while I was at work (sorry, employer) and then felt compelled to respond in defence of a private members bar in Brixton. Which is something I never thought I'd hear myself say!

    My all caps statement was supposed to be ENTIRELY ridiculous. It might have made more sense if it had been delivered in person, but I've learnt not to go there. Again, I apologise for my poor attempt at humour.

    I accept that calling Editor out on the number of posts he's made was childish - however, I did feel that I lacked "message-board" capital (as I said) in the face of his significant contribution to the board.

    And yes, I did suggest that the only way to resolve this discussion, and indeed most discussions, is to do so in person. I really struggle to communicate effectively (as maybe we've seen) with people from behind a keyboard. I like to hear tone, nuance, read facial expressions and learn about people in order to have challenging conversations. I was disappointed to read that Editor doubted my sincerity and so rejected my offer to meet up. I know of my sincerity, and have no doubts about it, but again, perhaps that is pitfall of online communication - how could he, or any of you know? I must have done something fairly drastic to make both Gramsci and Ed wary of my sincerity, and indeed existance, but I do find it peculiar that my recourse to actual human interaction is rebuffed and mocked - it seems to me that this would be an excellent means of proving my sincerity and my existence, and perhaps even helping me understand why a private members bar in Brixton is such a bad thing.

    One thing that I do know about Brixton's history is that in the mid to late 19th century, quite a lot of big and beautiful homes were built around the town to accommodate a rapidly growing middle-class; I imagine that this era of gentrification was discussed in pubs.
    Maggot and alcopop like this.
  3. mjd

    mjd Active Member

    You flatter me. And I in turn am sure that you are beautiful too. Flippancy aside, it does sound like I am in a similar position to you, insofar as I presently have free time while I am at work and thus only in the recent weeks have had the opportunity to provide some balance to these forums that I feel is lacking.

    Gramsci, I am conscious that I have still not responded substantively to your questions around gentrification; I am educating myself as you suggested and will respond in due course.

    What seems clear to me, however, and has been observed by a number of posters that have been around these forums much longer than whatwilldid and I, is that the forums are beginning to reflect a little more the changing demographic of Brixton. But, as I have said previously, we can choose to co-exist and accept each other or we can become keyboard warriors distracting ourselves from the real issues. With this in mind, I would be happy to join you for that drink with Editor.
    whatwilldid and alcopop like this.
  4. editor

    editor Walking along the lonely street of dreams

    Banged to rights, guv'nor.
  5. whatwilldid

    whatwilldid Member

    Politely, I think you mean "Bang".
  6. editor

    editor Walking along the lonely street of dreams

    "Bonged" might be more fun.
  7. whatwilldid

    whatwilldid Member

    And I resent the association with criminality, but we're all just having fun here, aren't we?
  8. cuppa tee

    cuppa tee Well-Known Member

    Gratifying as it is to see our nu Brixton representatives in favour of educating themselves there is a simple and unavoidable truth to bear in mind....

    sealion likes this.
  9. littleseb

    littleseb littleseb

    that's exactly the thing - you can't have it both ways. on the one hand you agree with the statement that S&P are setting a precedent, on the other hand you are claiming that they are not that bad ('cheap' and 'friendly') and have every right to set up shop and be part and re-shape and re-define a community. communities and areas change all the time, but in recent trends in London they come at the expense of poor people. people who a few decades ago moved into shitholes, worked hard to build communities and bridges, and in the process made said areas desirable for a different, more affluent demographic. how quickly people are priced out of areas they helped to develop is simply shocking. and it destroys lives, family bonds, and yes, communities.

    S&P might not be the worst of the lot, but moving in they are inevitably setting a precedent and normalise a life style and an attitude that shows little respect for existing social structures. it embraces the privatisation of culture and normalises exclusion.
    and this is not S&P's fault and S&p certainly haven't designed this trend. but they are profiteering from a cruel and heartless trend that has been destroying communities all over London for a few decades (eg see Notting Hill in the 6ts and 7ts through to Shoreditch in the 00s.).

    coupled with cruel austerity and social cuts, this makes the outlook on life for many people very very bleak, so it needs opposing in its roots, from the very start.

    as an aside - in my opinion a lot of London areas are in desperate need of re-development, re-design, and a general makeover (as a result of decades of dodgy housing policies). however, gentrification is not the answer, as it is excluding and plays with peoples' livelihoods. the ultimate goal of re-generation must be an approach that strengthens (and doesn't divide) existing communities, one that makes each member more valuable, but at the same time is welcoming to newcomers and new ideas, as everybody's input is respected.
    Gramsci, sealion, editor and 2 others like this.
  10. whatwilldid

    whatwilldid Member

    I may be missing a point here, but to clarify, the bit of this quote that I agreed with,

    "Rather than writing lengthy posts in support of Squires & Partners, who are quite literally the architects of the gentrification of that section of Brixton, why not spend that time researching some of the issues around gentrification, housing & poverty?"

    Was that I need to spend more time researching some of the issues around gentrification, housing and poverty. I don't think I've agreed that S&P are helping to set a precedent, and I also haven't said that their membership requirements are cheap. I said that for some, in the context of private membership, £23 per month isn't a lot of money.

    I agree with most of what you write. I think your point about S&P "inevitably setting a precedent and normalise a life style and an attitude that shows little respect for existing social structures... embrac[ing] the privatisation of culture and normalises exclusion", is really very interesting. I doubt that was ever their intention and I often find myself coming over Kantian when it comes to cause, effect, and intention, but it may well be that by moving to Brixton, S&P have helped to normalise a lifestyle and an attitude that shows little respect for existing social structures - but does this mark S&P out from many other businesses that have set up in Brixton over the last 150 years? If the argument is anti-capitalist, then okay, I get it. Let's have that argument, but I feel comfortable that the overall impact, in the wider context of a 21st century capitalist nation, of S&P investing millions of pounds in Brixton, and creating jobs (a number of businesses operate out of the space that S&P re-developed) is a good thing for Brixton - maybe not your Brixton, this person's Brixton, or that person's Brixton - but Brixton will outlive us all, and we will scarcely recognise it as ours for longer than a decade.
    alcopop likes this.
  11. editor

    editor Walking along the lonely street of dreams

    No matter how you spin it, £240 a year just to gain entry to a bar really is an awful lot of money to the majority of local residents, many of whom are struggling to pay bills
    Gramsci likes this.
  12. littleseb

    littleseb littleseb

    tbh, the moment I hit the 'reply' button I realised I didn't quite quote what I was meant to quote, and by no means I meant to twist your thoughts or put words in your mouth, and for that I apologise.
    I don't want to drag up old posts and over-analyse words, so let's leave it there, I reckon?

    some yes, some not. there have always been more expensive places and more daring businesses (which comes with the territory), but than there were always small businesses catering for the needs of a certain community (from market traders down to runners of social clubs and cheap boozers). I wasn't around 150 years ago, but I dare say I would have been as opposed to the former as I am now opposed to the likes of S&P. for the reasons given above.
    however, I live in the here and now, so I am opposed to a trend that is happening in front of our eyes, something that will change our lives for the worse in the near future (if it hasn't already happened).

    the argument of 'bringing' jobs to an area' is a bit hollow imo, as there are other ways of generating prosperity, even though this responsibility has been largely handed over to private enterprises post Thatcher.
    so no, I'm not grateful to S&P for generating jobs, but I'm more worried at what cost said jobs are generated.
    editor and sealion like this.
  13. whatwilldid

    whatwilldid Member

    Sure. Yes it is. Incidentally, that's exactly the same amount of money that it costs in the Prince of Wales for 2 bottles of Spirits and mixers in their swanky Blue Room, for a single night.
    T & P likes this.
  14. cuppa tee

    cuppa tee Well-Known Member

    Granted the Blue Room is an exclusive space and one many could not afford, but it's a party venue for hire and holds 40+ people so that would be £6 a head....almost as ridiculous as the comparing upstairs with Cairo's which I don't think you explained yet
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2018
    Gramsci and sealion like this.
  15. whatwilldid

    whatwilldid Member

    Yes, very happy to leave the early part of the post there - over-analysis of words kills message boards.

    I am really glad that you exist in the here and now and that you oppose the trend that is happening in front of our eyes, on the basis that you think it will change our lives for the worse. I wish more people would. I am not convinced that the Members bar of Upstairs at the Department Store of S&Ps HQs in Brixton is either cause or symptom of a trend that is going to change our lives for the worse (and for absolute clarity I'm not saying it isn't, just that I'm not convinced) - and so I do not oppose it in the same way. But the tension and divergence of opinion that we have is vital for a flourishing community, and so long may that live.

    I'd like to take you up a little on the counterargument to the "bringing jobs" line. I accept that in and of itself, it could be seen as a little hollow, and that there are other ways of generating prosperity, but, you live in the here and now, don't you? And in the here and now, it was S&P that took over a derelict building, regenerated it, and provided the space for business to operate out of. As I said previously, all that building had up until that point was untapped potential.
  16. whatwilldid

    whatwilldid Member

    Sure, let's do this.

    1) Cafe Cairo - I've been twice and both times been asked to pay. It looks like a great venue and the door staff were absolutely lovely and made us feel very welcome. Could I have come earlier and not paid? Yes. Was there a requirement to pay at the point of use for me? Yes. I don't think my comparison quite merits the ridicule I received for it.

    2) We can play the £6 per head game with Upstairs, too. As a member, you're allowed to bring (I believe) three guests with you. So between four of you, your membership to Upstairs costs less per month, for 12 months access, than a booking in the Blue Room for a single night (and you don't have to pull together 40+ mates - hats off for being able to do that, I struggle to maintain about ten close friendships!)
  17. editor

    editor Walking along the lonely street of dreams

    That's an utterly meaningless comparison.
  18. editor

    editor Walking along the lonely street of dreams

    And this is just desperate. Anyone can go to Cafe Cairo and it's quite often free. Only well-off members who've forked out £240/year - and whose face fits their secret vetting procedure - can gain access to the private members bar at Squires.
    Gramsci and cuppa tee like this.
  19. littleseb

    littleseb littleseb

    I will have to go now, shit to do, and also I have little interest in POW or Cairo.
    what impact private investment and employment has and will have not only on certain areas, but on (the mind set of) society on the whole is a discussion I can't get into atm due to time restrictions.
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2018
    Gramsci likes this.
  20. whatwilldid

    whatwilldid Member

    "Desperate", "utterly meaningless", "Stupid", "incoherent", "insincere"; can you just not be kind? I don't think I'm making outlandish claims or statements or comparisons, just ones that differ from your POV.
  21. whatwilldid

    whatwilldid Member

    Thanks for the time you have given. Have a good one.
  22. 3Zeros

    3Zeros Well-Known Member

    Focusing on the cost only and making comparisons to other costs misses the point somewhat.

    You couldn't ask for a better (or worse) example of gentrification than what S&P have done. From choosing to relocate here to redeveloping and unused space, to sticking a jewelled dome atop it all and then opening a members-only bar. All of which has happened in the wider context of ongoing gentrification in the area (as has been pointed out in earlier posts)

    The introduction of the fee and the opaque application process is just the elitist cherry on the gentrification cake.
    Gramsci and littleseb like this.
  23. littleseb

    littleseb littleseb

    ps: lots and lots and lots of people do. pls do not underestimate what's boiling below the surface.
    Gramsci likes this.
  24. whatwilldid

    whatwilldid Member

    Is it?! We're talking about the value and justice of charging £240 for entrance to an exclusive space in a bar... And that's a meaningless comparison?!?!
  25. cuppa tee

    cuppa tee Well-Known Member

    Cairo is a standalone business run by individuals not a multi million pound architecture practice, do you think people should run it and work there for nothing ?

    It's a freaking party venue for one off special occasions not a private members club, and I could be wrong but I don't think you'd have to fill out an application form to prove you are the right type of punter. I'll ignore your sarcastic comments about mates suffice to say that a lot of mine don't live in town anymore for reasons some of us are all too aware of :facepalm:
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2018
    Gramsci and editor like this.
  26. whatwilldid

    whatwilldid Member

    What is it with this message board and infering messages from the ether?! Where have I ever suggested that the people who run Cairo should work for nothing? I was making a comparison of entry fees for venues, and alluded to cafe Cairo, a very popular Brixton location charging entry. They do. They charge entry. Do they illegally discriminate against who can come in? No. Does Upstairs? No. And if they do, then that's a legal matter that can be escalated. Cairo is a standalone business, great... I never said it wasn't. Isn't Squires a standalone business? Or are you using that word in such a way that I won't be able to argue with you about it because the meaning will change according to what definition you want to give it?

    I wasn't being sarcastic about the 40+ mates - I was suggesting that on your calculation, you needed 40+ mates in the room to make it £6 per head. In my comparison to uptairs, you need 3, and only once per month. If you had a group of 4 friends that wanted to meet up twice a month, use the free wifi and talk about whatever the damn well you please, you could do that for £3 each a visit. Can you do that elsewhere in Brixton and not spend £3? Sure. I never said you couldn't.
    alcopop likes this.
  27. cuppa tee

    cuppa tee Well-Known Member

    From personal experience I would say Cairos are doing quite well from the gentrication of the area but that does not alter the fact that they are a very different operation to Upstairs, and I think you are wrong to try and say there is a comparison. As far as I am aware the people who run Cairos do not have any connection to an architects practice that is not only benefitting from the process but fuelling it. Upstairs on the other hand does, and as others have pointed out this is more the issue.

    You are certainly showing a lot of loyalty to the club but if you were in the position of having a shindig like a birthday or a wedding you'd be possibly expecting more than your three besties to attend, what about loose acquaintances, family, friends of friends etc etc so it seems to me you are comparing bananas and cucumbers to make a point and I am left wondering why ?
    editor likes this.
  28. djdando

    djdando Well-Known Member

    Then don't go! I don't do a lot of things because I can't afford it.

    Do me a favour and pop into Footlocker and just cast your eyes at the cost of some of the trainers that a lot of local residents buy, £150 upwards. Hell of a lot of money given you could go to Surprise Surprise across the road and get a pair for 10% of the price.
    discobastard, alcopop and mjd like this.
  29. editor

    editor Walking along the lonely street of dreams

    And for the record, this is what the £240 buys you at the Prince of Wales, not that I'm going to defend their pricing for this tiny part of their bar and club, which is open to all.
    The Prince also does some fantastic live music nights. I still haven't heard a thing about the entertainment that's on offer in the exclusive private bar and I've asked several times now...
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2018
  30. editor

    editor Walking along the lonely street of dreams

    Do people wanting to go to Cafe Cairo or the Prince of Wales have to fill out a form in advance which is then secretly vetted by an unnamed committee to see if they're the "right" sort of person to be allowed entry?

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