After much deliberation, the editorial team have arrived at their selection for the second annual Brixton Buzz Awards Of The Year.
Scroll down to see who we think deserves credit for serving Brixton well over 2016, and who we’ve been disappointed by.
Note: We’ve tried to be as fair and as thorough as we can, but no doubt we’ve overlooked some worthy winners, so feel free to add your comments and reactions.
Brixton Event Of The Year 2016
Brixton commemorates David Bowie
The year couldn’t have got off to a worse start with the devastating news that Brixton-born David Bowie passed away, just days after releasing ‘Blackstar,’ one of his finest pieces of work.
As the news spread, Brixton became the focus for fans looking to gather together and raise a glass to the music legend.
Brixton Buzz was the first to announce a free Bowie party, and with the event making national news, the queues outside the Prince Albert stretched half way up Coldharbour Lane. Inside the atmosphere was incredibly moving, with fans singing along till closing time.
In nearby Windrush Square, hundreds gathered for a spontaneous street party which went on till the small hours. It was a wonderful way to commemorate Bowie’s incredible life.
Throughout the year, the mural opposite the tube station has continued to form a focus for fans looking to pay tribute to Bowie: we’ve captured the messages, notes and mementos every week.
The magnificent Lambeth Country show was once again a highlight of our year. A truly unique two-day event packing in reggae bands, vegetable animals and medieval jousting, long may it remain free to all.
With the rise of the right and the depressing resurgence of racism, this rally in Brixton was an important community gathering. We covered it in depth here.
Brixton Heroes of 2016
There’s four winners this year, and we’ve been moved by the resilience and persistence of all these tenacious campaigners:
There may only be only be four traders left standing, but their battle against Network Rail’s catastrophic plans has been an inspiration. Brixton Buzz salutes them. Special credit also goes to local activist Potent Whisper for his solid backing to the campaign.
They’ve taken their battle to the High Court and won and lost, but these tenacious campaigners fighting to save their homes from Lambeth’s unwanted demolition plans have been nothing but heroic. We wish them success and will continue to support them through 2017. A special mention goes to Ann Plant who passed away recently: she was a formidable fighter and a continual thorn in Lambeth’s side. She’ll be missed.
Many had thought that the cinema workers’ valiant fight for a decent wage was over after they settled with Picturehouse in 2014, but when the owners reneged on their deal, the Ritzy workers socked it to them with a series of strikes at the end of 2016. Nice one!
With Lambeth pushing ahead with their bonkers plans to turn popular and much loved libraries into bizarre private gyms with bookshelves, the community opposition has been rock solid, as illustrated by a huge march in April this year.
Individual awards go to: Cllr Rachel Heywood (above) for having the courage to break ranks with the Nu Labour Council and do what councillors are supposed to and represent her constituents and Solomon Smith for his tireless work for the Brixton Soup Kitchen.
This hugely popular, community-uniting event was harpooned by Lambeth Council’s meddling in 2014, with its backfiring ticketing scheme sealing the fate of what used to be a yearly highlight.
Also: Queen’s Head, SW9. The last of the great late night mash-up boozers, its crazy reggae nights and Fat White Family shows are much missed. Happily the pub still lives on, but it’s a different beast altogether.
Kaff Bar. It’s over a year since the bar was closed down after landlords tripled the rents and its absence is felt as keenly as ever.
Canterbury Arms – another lovely old school boozer/club venue lost to big money developers, much the same as the much-missed Grosvenor, although there is still a slim chance the pub may return in some form.
Villains Of The Year 2016
Hands down winners for their shameful community-smashing greed that has seen long term independent traders evicted and central Brixton turned into a ghost town.
Also: Lambeth Council for being the least Labour-like council ever known, Cllr Mary Atkins (Tulse Hill ward) for her performance at Lambeth Council’s Oversight & Scrutiny Committee, where she accused the membership of Save Cressingham Gardens of creating a “climate of fear” on the estate. FFS.
Best Brixton venue 2016
It’s unfussy and a bit tatty, like every rock and roll venue should be. It’s also a bloody great place to watch live music and see hotly tipped new bands.We love the Windmill.
Also: Hootananny for the great reggae nights, Jamm for the incredible sound system and Off The Cuff for the grassroots shows.
Best Brixton pub 2016
Cheap-ish drinks, lovely staff and just about the only vaguely alternative pub left in central Brixton, the Albert remains our firm favourite, even if the recent hideous refurb makes the place look more like a beach bar from the 1990s. Bring back the bands and the comfy chairs, say we!
Also: Effra Hall Tavern: one of the last traditional pubs left in town with fantastic live jazz nights; Prince Of Wales for their late night Thursday jazz sessions, Effra Social for the beer, The Cambria for the Sunday roasts and garden, the Marquis Of Lorne for its ungentrified, down to earth normalness, and The Beehive for being the last affordable pub in town.
Pubs out of town we like: The Railway: A bus ride away in Tulse Hill but hosting great free live music and DJ nights, plus the Joiners Arms and Old Dispensary in Camberwell: two traditional boozers which deserve your support.
Best Brixton club 2016
A beacon in the Brixton club scene for 30 years, this small and friendly club serves a loyal crowd and plays host to packed, extra-fluffy all-nighters on the weekend. It’s not just thumping house and techno though, with their Sunday live jazz and reggae nights being a real treat.
Runner up: Cafe Cairo
This quirky, alternative venue manages to combine the friendly and down to earth atmosphere of a Middle Eastern lounge with the DIY ethic from a brilliant 1990s Brixton squat. Refreshingly free from fun-crushing, braying hordes of Instagraming hipsters, this is a real hidden gem. Long may it continue.
Also: The Dogstar and Market House for keeping Coldharbour Lane jumping while only charging a fiver on weekends.
Brixton Gig Of The Year 2016
Grant shone brightly at the Electric Avenue relaunch event and it was magnificent to hear the words of his famous song echoing around Electric Avenue.
Also: Beck at The Academy and The Found Festival at Brockwell Park, and the superb free Brixton Come Together events.
Best restaurants and cafes
Check out our comprehensive round up here: Brixton Food Review 2016: the best restaurants and cafes – and the biggest flop.
Best free night out
Brixton Book Jam: A great literary free event, open to all and run with love.
Best Independent Shop 2016
A true small independent business run by a local with a huge passion for music, this brilliant, super-friendly, vinyl-only record shop in Brixton can be found in the (thankfully) unfashionable Reliance Arcade. We love the place.
It was also wonderful to see Brixton Cycles bouncing back and reopening in Brixton Road after a successful crowdfunding campaign. Let’s hope they don’t get gentrified out of their premises for a third time!
Also: Jimmy’s Plaice, a lovely traditional chip shop serving great value food to the local community – no Shoreditch PR or faux-edgy hip hop imagery needed; and the Blue Turtle Oasis, a terrific little independent coffee bar in Loughborough Junction.
Best Sports Club Award
Once again we honour Dulwich Hamlet for their scintillating performances on the field, their hugely entertaining fans and their wonderful campaigning work. Last year we applauded them for their Dulwich2Dunkirk campaign and their groundbreaking anti-homophobia match against Stonewall FC, and the good works have continued this year with their official charity, Football Beyond Borders.
Hamlet fans have also taken part in food bank appeals, bike collections for refugees and much more – so much more in fact that the club won the Community Club of the Year award for their outstanding community work.
With Brixton still being torn apart by gentrification and a council who seem only too happy to steamroller over the wishes of residents and small businesses when it suits their interests, it’s hard to get to upbeat about 2017.
Affordable housing is disappearing while luxury flats sprout up everywhere, and then there’s the double whammy of Brexit and Trump casting a long, dark shadow over the upcoming 12 months.
But hopefully we’ll still be here this time next year, and we’ll keep doing our best to promote the good things that are happening around town throughout the year. Have a great 2017 everyone.
Brixton Buzz x