No Boxpark for old men


By - Friday 11th November, 2016

Feeling his age, Paul Dennis attends the Boxpark launch party


Photo by Liz Sheppard-Jones, used with permission.

Described as ‘the hottest ticket in town’ the Boxpark launch party turned out to be the hottest ticket out of town too, with Eskimo Dance and special guests drawing a large and enthusiastic crowd from far and wide.

Croydon ‘Grimelord’ Jonny Rose is a huge authority on the music that was on offer, and he has already covered it in some depth for the Citizen. I bow to his erudition.

Queuing to get in, I found myself in the company of several young blades who were intent on having a ‘sick night’. Initially this alarmed me, but I understand that it’s the modern vernacular for ‘a good time’. There was a bit of pre-entry dancing going on too, as ‘the beats’ filtered out to the queue. I say dancing: what I mean is head nodding. Not the rabid, all-out head-banging of those in thrall to heavy metal combos, but rather, a sagacious but lively forward nod, as if giving assent.

The sniffer dogs had clearly failed to pick up the smell of skunk

Approaching the entrance, I was patted down for contraband. Judging by the contents of the confiscation table, personal grooming products were high on the forbidden list. After passing this test, I was sniffed at by two separate dogs. This was a worry. Would they detect the smell of our cat and kick up a ruckus?

I needn’t have worried. Not only did these talented hounds fail to react to the odour of cat… once I was inside it was obvious that they had singularly failed to detect odour of ‘skunk’ as well. Perhaps they were suffering from colds.

Inside, the joint was jumping. There was an abundance of nodding going on and arms were being waved. There was a lot of call and response going on, and plenty of instruction along the lines of “when da beat drops in, just go f**king crazy”.

There was absolutely no chance of missing the beat dropping in. The beat dropping in was a physical sensation of the floor coming up to meet the soles of your feet, followed by a vibration of the inner ear. Not only was there an elephant in the room, it had fallen from the chandelier and hit the floor at some speed – and it kept doing it. Generous creature that it was, it timed its impacts with the nodding heads of the acolytes.

Not my cuppa, to be honest, but it wasn’t aimed at me

It was all rather exciting, from my point of view, not so much for music but for the crowd it had drawn and for the potential to further reinvigorate Croydon. With several levels and a big open space in the middle, Boxpark looks great for gigs. This gig? Well, not my cuppa to be honest, but I don’t think it was aimed at me. And here is the conundrum: it was an exciting event, but how many of the youthful audience who attended the event will be giving the Croydon Boxpark any future business?

Who, exactly, are Boxpark’s target clientele?

Anyway, with 200 events promised for the coming year, Boxpark has the potential to be a very interesting venue indeed. The food outlets look good, and I’m looking forward to giving them more of a go than I managed on the opening night. I might even drop in to see what entertainment is on offer.

Paul Dennis

Paul Dennis

An award-winning journalist, Paul has worked on angling titles for much of his career, including 16 years as deputy editor of Angler's Mail and 4 years as editor of Total Sea Fishing magazine. He is a regular freelance contributor for a wide array of non-angling-related titles, author of two books on angling and a widely-followed authority on the subject.

More Posts





  • Anne Giles

    So if the dogs had failed to detect skunk, that means that skunk was there, in which case I would keep Boxpark out of bounds.

  • Robert Ward

    Clearly the launch party was aimed at a demographic that doesn’t include me. Yet the venue and the offering needs to make money to survive and thrive. The crucial question as Paul has asked, is who will be its clientele.

    Decent food, competitively priced in a congenial environment appeals to most people but different audiences have different ideas on what constitutes congeniality. An obtrusive ‘grime’ beat may be great for some but put off the rest.

    Learning and adapting will be critical to success but an offering that changes through the day and between weekdays and weekends looks like the way to success.

  • Anne Giles

    Class War anarchists are planning to raid Boxpark on the 22nd of this month at 11 a.m.. Police are aware.

    • Ian Marvin

      I presume they’ll be going into Department of Coffee and Social Affairs and demanding a coffee with no further clarification. Or asking for a pint of lager on the Cronx Bar.

      • Anne Giles

        Ha! Ha! There’s a train strike on that day. :-)