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Intimidation of the security at Dingwalls spoiled our visit

08 February, 2018

Cartoon: John Sadler

• I HAVE been going to Dingwalls dance hall to watch bands since 1980 and have seen many great gigs including The Smiths, Los Lobos, Link Wray, among many others, and I have played there a few times myself in the 1980s and 1990s.

I went on Friday with some friends to see Jim Jones and the Righteous Mind and I was pretty surprised at how grim things have got at this once legendary venue.

On arrival we were greeted by four security guards who had set up a makeshift barrier to the cobbled walkway leading off the canal bridge, a sort of Checkpoint Charlie set-up.

We were frisked very thoroughly and then asked to hand over ID, in my case a driver’s licence with my address date of birth etc. I reluctantly handed it over, bemused, because I thought it was to check age. However I was shocked to see it get scanned in a portable scanning device.

On entering the venue it didn’t get any better. There were about half a dozen more security, prowling the venue in full garb, basically killing off any good vibes that may have been left over from previous times. And barriers all over the dance floor in case, I suppose, anyone felt the urge to bust a few feeble moves.

As if to put a finishing touch to the general grimness of our outing, a trip to the toilet revealed a bloke, seemingly employed by the venue, barring my way trying to sell toilet roll. Despite all this nonsense the band were great but we were all relieved to get out of there.

I am fully aware that times have changed but as someone who has lived in Camden Town for 35 years, and loved it for its culture, which is famous worldwide, it is heartbreaking to see it get smothered like this.

This policing by people who have done a one-day course and been given an armband is not only a massive buzzkill but, more seriously, this level of intimidation can’t be good for anyone.

Somers Town


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