Beats & Eats celebrates its first year with great food, cool music and an electric vibe

By - Monday 29th September, 2014

Shaniqua Benjamin reports on a birthday party that was also a celebration for Croydon

Photo by Elikem Akaplu, used with permission.

Birthdays are always special, but I think that there is just something a little bit sweeter about a first birthday. An electric vibe and party atmosphere filled Matthews Yard on 6th September 2014 as Beats & Eats celebrated its first birthday with an evening of live music, great food and joyful festivities.

Beats & Eats describes itself as ‘a delicious blend of baked treats, freshly cooked street food, live music and DJs held once a month at Matthews Yard, Croydon’.

Surrey Street Market was well represented with Chef George – the original food vendor – serving up his famous jerk chicken, whilst Forno Viaggiante brought a taste of Italy with freshly baked pizza. Savoury baker Neil Ridulfa, was also back with an appetising sweet chilli and carrot slice, and sweet pepper and caramelised onion slice.

John Paul Butler, Neil Ridulfa and Ian Anantharajah.
Photo by Elikem Akaplu, used with permission.

Of course, Beats & Eats is about the music, as well as the food. A guest host took to the stage to liven up proceedings on this celebratory night. Tubby Boy described himself as an “entertainer”, “fat boy” and “jerk chicken lover”, and soon got the crowd pumping with his vibrant presence, loud personality and abundance of jokes.

Tubby Boy also delivered an energetic performance that fully engaged the crowd – he started by asking us to repeat ‘Old Skool’ whenever he said, “I kick it old skool”. ‘Old skool’ is what inspires Tubby Boy’s sound, which was clear as he delivered a really cool ‘old skool’ hip hop performance that I loved. He said: “I thought tonight was amazing, but my favourite part was Ivanmore… Ivanmore came with the curl and afro”.

Young performer Ivanmore had the crowd mesmerised with his beautiful, soulful voice, which was soft but powerful. The 22-year-old channelled artists like Prince and Maxwell, as he performed a selection of covers and original songs, including a beautiful rendition of Michael Jackson’s ‘Butterflies’. This perfect acoustic set seemed to have all the ladies swooning. Tubby Boy jokingly said that he “saw girls fainting”.

Photo by Elikem Akaplu, used with permission.

Beats & Eats favourite, Muna, brought her usual sass and soul to the birthday celebrations. She praised Beats & Eats, saying: “It’s been great working with these guys, they’re very supportive… I love coming back”. Like Ivanmore, Muna sang a mixture of covers and original material, including her spiritual song, ‘Asking for Help’, which added a different element to the performances on the night. She also treated the crowd to something extra, with a rendition of ‘Not Gon’ Cry’ by Mary J Blige.

It wouldn’t be Beats & Eats without a set by co-founder, John Paul Butler. His acoustic performance of original material brought a raspy, folk sound that everyone was bobbing their heads to. Accompanied by a drummer called Marley, whom he’d met “literally an hour” before his set, John Paul said: “Saturday was great fun as always – and stressful as always”.

John Paul Butler.
Photo by Elikem Akaplu, used with permission.

A birthday’s not complete without a cake, and Beats & Eats celebrated its first birthday with a three tier cake created by Gemma Johnson, better known as Gemma the Baker. All in attendance were given the task of guessing the flavour of each tier – and no-one has ever guessed the top tier.

However, Gemma let me in on the secret: tier three was chocolate Guinness cake, tier two was courgette cake and the infamous tier one contained… tomato soup. Resident Beats & Eats photographer, Elikem Akpalu said: “Crazy to think the top layer was made out of tomato soup”.

Birthday cake with a mystery ingredient.
Photo by Elikem Akaplu, used with permission.

It was a sweet and funny moment when Neil cut the cake, with John Paul and co-founder Ian Anantharajah standing on either side of him. The crowd shouted out for them to feed each other, which they then preceded to do, much to everyone’s entertainment and amusement.

After a year of success in Croydon, Beats & Eats co-ordinator Dan Singaratnam said, “I think next year is definitely about growing Beats & Eats”. The team is hoping to branch out into London, but for now Ian says that they are “focusing on establishing the event at Matthews Yard”. Ian also said: “I’m really looking forward to seeing some new young acts and some of the Beats & Eats favourites, like Coffee Pot Drive and Ivanmore”.

Beats & Eats first birthday celebration was an amazing, fun-filled night that again brought the community together. As Ian said, “Without the support of the local community, we wouldn’t have made it this far”. John Paul also added his thanks to the “amazing musicians that have performed over the past year” and Matthews Yard, which he referred to as “Croydon’s coolest venue”.

The next Beats & Eats event will take place on 11th October from 5pm to 11pm at Matthews Yard.

Shaniqua Benjamin

Shaniqua Benjamin

Shaniqua is a writer and poet, born and raised in Thornton Heath, which she is proud to call her home. She has used her passion for making a difference to found a platform, Young People Insight, which empowers the voices of young people and encourages community engagement. When she’s not writing or trying to cause change, she loves reading, scrapbooking, watching films and listening to music.

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