One day, seven venues, over 80 acts — that was Oxjam Camberwell!
Peter put a call out for a report on Saturday’s Oxjam takeover, and, as I was (to an extent) involved in the organisation, I volunteered to provide the backstage gossip.
The background to the event is that Oxfam put out a call to hold fundraising takeover events throughout the UK – in effect a DIY version of the Camden Crawl. Huge props go to Michael Armstrong, Camberwell local, who seized the challenge with both hands, and put in an incredible amount of work to make it all happen. There were a number of hurdles along the way – the sad demise of the Sun and Doves which was to be one of the main hubs, the emergency works at the Bear – but the final product was, even if I say it from an insider’s view – pretty impressive.
There were seven venues involved – The Phoenix, The Joiners Arms, The Tiger, The Crooked Well, The Grand Union, The Recreation Ground and the mysterious Club Couture. Early signs were good – apparently Camberwell had the most presales on tickets of any Oxjam event ever.…pats on the back all round.
I was venue managing the Crooked Well, so didn’t make it to the Phoenix or the Joiners, but in general, Camberwell was pretty comprehensively taken over. The Tiger was rammed with sweaty hipsters, the Crooked Well had a baying audience for our male burlesque performers, and the Recreation Ground (hosting an eclectic mix of stand up and DJs), had more people there than I’ve ever seen in their current incarnation. And Club Couture – the talking point of the day was how desperate everyone was to see inside…
Too many acts, too little time to talk about them all, but as an event, I think a real local success. With a financial hat on, most of the venues involved (and even those that weren’t) were, I imagine, feeling a healthy glow from their tills. And, while trying not to sound too twee, it was an impressive display of community spirit – the result was due entirely to the generosity of people giving their time for free, from sound technicians to all of the performers, to ticket sellers and the core production team. Lots of them, obviously, looking to do their bit for charidee, but there was also a real aim to provide a showcase for Camberwell. One to add to the annual events calendar, I would have thought.