Camden: Contrast and Community

By: Amara Tamborini                                                                                                                                       5/30/16

If there are two things Camden is known for, its music and community. The quirky London district has come a long way since it’s beginnings in the 1800’s. Originally, the area was inhibited by the lower and working class during the industrial revolution. What was once one of the most undesirable neighborhoods, is now one of the most sought after areas in London. Though Camden’s most famous resident is the late Amy Winehouse, many famous faces have and still call Camden home including: Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant, Rickey Gervais, Harry Styles, Jamie Oliver, Kate Moss, Daniel Craig, Jude Law, The Beckhams, as well as Tim Burton and Helena Bonham Carter. One of Camden’s less known residents goes by the name of Mike. We followed our guide Mike through the Unseen Tour of Camden. The Unseen Tours are unique because they are led by current or formally homeless residents of Camden. After the England bank crisis in 2008, a bizarre series of unfortunate events and circumstances left Mike unemployed and homeless for over two years. Prior to the crash, he was once a successful and wealthy engineer that allowed him to live a comfortable lifestyle and enjoy many luxuries with some of the high status friends he has made through his life in Camden. Home to some of the wealthiest and poorest people, Camden has shown Mike both sides of the poverty line.

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In both the vibrant market district and the tranquil Primrose Village, Camden’s population ranges drastically. Yet, somehow the gap is not felt. The city has such a strong sense of community that all classes and peoples can be found intertwined and interacting with each other. This concept of community was brought to life in one of Mike’s many interesting stories along the tour. Before, during and after his experience with homelessness he was surrounded by all types of famous people. He recalled being at one of his lowest points of poverty when a popular radio dj friend of his called him up and invited him to a show at a small pub in Primrose Village. He politely declined because he couldn’t afford to go out and have a beer. After some convincing and the promise of a free beer, Mike decided to attend the show. When he got to the table, he was accompanied by Kate Moss, Harry Styles, Cara Delevingne, and a hand full more of A-List celebrities. Sitting at a single table we’re the two complete opposites of the spectrum. It didn’t matter weather one could afford a beer or the entire pub, the group was able to ignore the wealth and statuses and enjoy the music. I felt that Mike’s story perfectly epitomized the city. Camden deep musical roots is one of the strongest factors bringing its people together.

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