First Thursdays in East London have become notorious evenings for fun, both among the trendy group taking over the area from Whitechapel to Clapton and for those who have an interest in dynamic art openings. I can safely say that there is an immediate ‘cool factor’ for those who venture to the galleries scatted around Old Street, Shoreditch, and Hackney.
The streets are vibrant, people are stylish, conversations are interesting, and art is abundant, though perhaps not the primary focus. It can be said that, First Thursdays become a meeting space for exposing lifestyle choices. In many ways, art is an important part of this, but more than art itself, it’s what art represents that pulls people in (plus the free booze provided by most galleries).
On any given day East London considers itself alternative, hip, edgy, and special, but once a month on the first Thursday (thanks to the gallery openings) the area bursts with maximum coolness.
Though it is a specialized style of cool, one that is represented as intellectual (discussing art while drinking Red Stripe), as youthful (because hipsters need art for their Dalston lofts) and as alternative (who goes to the National Gallery or the Victoria and Albert to view art). This specific type may irritate many, but it seems to be more and more popular in London and possibly in other urban spaces.
Beyond the fact that these nights are fun all year round, these events become the culmination of art as a means for defining and justifying lifestyle choices. Many have and will continue to critique this, yet it poses a question about how certain lifestyle choices are made and why.
Perhaps it is coolness that draws some into the art openings, and creativity that pulls in others, but mainly those attracted to art are interested in what it represents. This can be personal, cultural or even social representations, but ultimately it carries weight with it.
For this reason it’s important to think of First Thursdays as more than a night of fun in one of London’s most dynamic areas and to think about how art becomes a part of the choices we make about ourselves.
Ready to join First Thursdays? Learn all the details here: http://www.firstthursdays.co.uk/
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