IN CONVERSATION WITH: Jimmy [Gillett Square]

Jimmy Gillett Square

We’re trying something a little different here at KOMPAS – we’ve been chatting with some Londoners about their favourite place in the city, and why it means so much to them. First up, we talked to Jimmy about his favourite place, Gillett Square in Dalston.

So the place is Gillett Square in Dalston. It’s pretty much just a concrete slab surrounded by some shops and stuff, but at its heart, it’s actually kind of like the cultural centre of Dalston. You’ve got a real good eclectic mix of people – like you’ve got low key homeless people and vagrants but you’ve also got loads of children, community-based people, skaters, Rastafarians – just a really odd, brilliant bunch of people. It’s fucking beautiful: it’s home to NTS Radio, so if you get on a good side you can hear NTS Radio, or alternatively, some random people have hooked up a laptop and a speaker to one of the trees, so they play dancehall or reggae and stuff.

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I’m friends with a few skaters and every time I was in Dalston I used to just swing by, and there was always something on. I’ve watched live performances, I’ve watched people just really being human: dancing, singing, dance-offs, just kids playing around… Just a really good blend of people from different communities coming together and just being human.

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I had a nice moment once where I was sat on the stairs, just watching some community project, and just drinking my coffee, eating a banana; and this little girl comes up to me, and she’s like ‘Do you like stickers?’ and I said ‘Yeah, I love stickers’ and she gives me a sticker and… I don’t know, it was just a really good way to engage with a child, and like engage in manners, I guess, like please and thank you’s, and just have an interaction with an innocent kid. 

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For a confident guy, I was actually kind of intimidated the first time, because you walk into the square and it’s like an American canteen where everybody has their places where they sit, and there are cliques and groups and stuff, and you’re like where do I belong? But the longer that you spend there, you realise that everyone belongs just by being there… first time there, I just sat down, I just did what I do every time I go there – have a cup of coffee, have a smoke, I meet people, we fist bump a lot, we chat, we just bum around. I watch the skaters, I film them for a bit. I don’t skate, I think about skating. And then I go home.

We hope you enjoyed this conversation with Jimmy. What’s your favourite place in London? Why does it mean so much to you? Tell us in the comments.

Visit Gillett Square in Dalston, N16 8AZ

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