When I got to the party they had already had a couple of unfriendly visits from the police and had agreed there would be no bar on site. I walked into the sports hall to see 400 people sitting quietly on the floor watching a girl reciting witty, political poetry (including an ode to the woman in the job centre, and a squatters adaptation of Blake's 'Garden of Love'). Over the course of the cabaret we were treated to contortion acts, juggling, theatrical pieces, acrobatics, incomprehensible performance art and fire dancing. A number of the people onstage were performing for the first time and it was wonderful to see the talent that was being nurtured, supported and presented by the squatting community.
So the compere who had been keeping the cabaret flowing upstairs, stepped up to the mic accompanied by a violinist and started beat-boxing and singing, building up complex tunes with a loop-station. The party continued. People danced and sang and clapped along. There was a cheerful dedication to keep the energy and togetherness alive and to meet whatever difficulty arose with creativity and positivity (words that are often misused, but were embodied in that beautiful evening in Camden Town). I got he impression that if the police had cut the power that night, the party goers would have pulled out some candles and guitars and carried on acoustically.
In the past 30 years I have watched the creeping cultural death of this neighbourhood as creativity and independence slowly got squeezed out of the way by money. All those generic 'camden' shops becoming more and more interchangeable every year and clinging on to a concept of cool that was defined by outcasts in the 1970s and early '80s. The appearance and gradual dominance of the big brands, and the living costs ever rising, until the punks, artists and students that made Camden Town a world famous cultural attraction were priced out of the area. Their genuine creativity being replaced by a commercial pastiche that can be mass produced, packaged and sold like any other commodity.
The squatters have now been removed to make way for a property developer who intends to build some flats.
At least those exiled can comfort themselves that they take the living character and the beating heart of the city with them.