Celebrities, and Protestors Fight to ‘Save Soho’ … Before it’s Too Late!
Soho is dead!…or so it seems …and with it quickly goes all the hedonistic glamour, creative riches and the beautifully seedy sin that once made it so adored.
Perhaps early warning signs came when the Friday night queue at a newly opened Korean noodle bar was longer than G-A-Y late. Or when ‘The Box’ replaced the original Soho Revue Bar and was filled with Made In Chelsea wannabe’s who paid £60 a piece to get in… or maybe it all happened when it was more common to see a Costa coffee and a smoothie bar open on Old Compton Street; than the neon drenched porn shop’s of yesteryear … but who knows for sure.
The gentrification of London has been seeping over the city like a black cloud of middle class monotony for the past few years. But one things certain, unless someone steps in soon, we’ll all know exactly how Soho ends…
Just before Christmas Madame Jojo’s closed down. One of Soho’s most iconic music venues ,and the last nightclub standing, from the infamous King of Soho, Paul Raymond’s legacy. Taking with it, it’s neighbour Escape, (a club which provided a shamefully fantastic backdrop to many of my most treasured Soho highs and lows) but more so, what feels like the last piece, authentic Soho had left to give.
Lucky for me however, I’m not the only one who thinks so. Hundreds of protesters joined a “New Orleans-style” funeral procession a few weeks ago to mourn the closure of the club and put forward a signed petition to Mayor Boris Johnson in a last ditch attempt to ask for his support and ‘Save Our Soho’ and the musical history it still has to give.
The petition was organised by Soho veteran and musician Tim Arnold the ‘Soho Hobo’, who submitted a letter addressed to the mayor in The Times, signed by numerous celebrities including actor Benedict Cumberbatch, Stephen Fry, Paul O’Grady, Eddie Izzard, and rockstars Roger Daltrey, and Pete Townsend.
“My concern is that the end of Madame Jojo’s will lead to the closure of other such establishments, which will limit young artists’ chances to showcase their talents, ultimately affecting the British music industry,” Arnold’s letter reads.
“As a resident, I believe Soho’s enduring attraction as a global destination has always depended on building around and adding to what has gone before, not by demolishing it, and I hope readers will support me in this.’
Following Arnold’s plea, an eloquently spoken Stephen Fry joined a variety of other showbiz friends appearing in a further video campaign, to persuade Soho landowners to avoid the ‘rush to gentrify’ and ‘maximise profits’
Speaking in the video Fry comments “London simply wouldn’t be London without Soho.’
“Soho’s unique blend of raffishness with a hint of wickedness, its artistic freedom of expression, its place as a centre of gay, lesbian and transgender community – all of this give London an extraordinary gift and the metropolis would be so much less of a place without somewhere like Soho.”
Words by Tracy Kawalik
Photos & Video by ‘TheSohoHobo’ and Save Soho