In November 2014 the Iconic club Madame Jojos closed its doors. This event being interpreted by many as the death knell of Soho.The gentrification of Soho affects the LGBT community and its...
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In November 2014 the Iconic club Madame Jojos closed its doors. This event being interpreted by many as the death knell of Soho.The gentrification of Soho affects the LGBT community and its Drag Queen sub-culture, but the cabaret atmosphere of the entire neighborhood in enormous ways. This active pursuit to destroy a bubbling and vibrant part of the city's heart is viewed by many as an atrocity akin to turning the lights off on Broadway. Over 3rd of London's music venues have been closed in recent years and no one noticed. An active movement to bring a halt to this disaster has begun to unfold with one organization after another emerging to fight for Soho. Organizations made up of citizens and celebrities have sprung up to combat this onslaught. Will they win this battle and save Soho?Written by
Over the last two years I've stopped watching Hollywood movies for several reasons that I won't go into here. I prefer to watch films by independent producers, and that's how I stumbled across "The Battle of Soho." I've walked through the streets of Soho on the odd occasion, but I have never really had an opinion about the place. All I've heard about this town is that it's the "Red Light District" of London. I had no interest or attachment to Soho whatsoever, until I watched this documentary.
The title of the film is what drew my attention. I wanted to know what the "battle" was all about, and what I discovered was not what I was expecting. I was assuming that it would be about local residents trying to drive out the prostitutes or something of that nature. Instead, I learnt about the history and attempted gentrification of a town that its residents and loyal visitors love and are very passionate about.
Let me start by saying that the production was fantastic; it was more like a documentary than a film. It featured real people, and captured real emotion. Unless you have a heart of stone, you will feel the immense pain and suffering of these people. To be honest, before I watched the film, gentrification was not something I even thought about. I live in Kent, no one is trying to dig up my home to make the area more modern and drive out the poor. However, now I have a heart for the people who are faced with this struggle.
There were several scenes in the film that were extremely moving. I wish I could talk about them all, but space won't allow me to do so. What I learnt is that Soho is a place for non conformists, it has a huge LGBT community, there are a lot of clubs and bars that cater to their lifestyle. The majority of the places that were being shut down so that this railway station could be built, were the places that this community socialise and live their lives without feeling threatened by a society that doesn't accept their lifestyle.
There was one man in particular who really touched my heart. He was a bald male escort/activist who had a very dominant voice in the fight against the destruction of this community. When he heard that a club called "The Black Cap" had been shut down, he broke down in tears. This scene was heartbreaking to me.
Another scene that was both powerful and emotional, was the campaign for a lady called Marian to be re-housed. I can't remember the full story, but she was being evicted by the council so they could build something, and at the same time refusing to re-house her. The bald male escort/Activist, and many others from the community stood with this woman shoulder to shoulder and fought to have her re-housed. Due to the publicity that her case received, partly as a result of this documentary, Marian and her children were moved into another property.
At the end of the documentary one of the people being interviewed said: "If you really believe in something get involved." I applaud everyone who took part in this film and stood up for something they believed in. I applaud the producers of this film who chose to assist this community in their fight instead of trying to be the next big Hollywood movie directors making huge profits but having no impact.
I was also saddened that Johnny Deluxe, one of the participants in the documentary died in 2017. He had a powerful voice, and he used it well. Rest in peace!
Although this is not my fight, I will remember each person who starred in this film, and the people who made it in prayer. Thank you for such an inspirational and moving narrative.
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