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Going Loco Down at Hackney Showroom: Nina Lyndon on the Free East London Festival

Nina Lyndon set up the Hackney Showroom with her business partner Sam Curtis Lindsay as part of New Future Collective - the venue has been hosting performances and acting as a cultural hub in the heart of Hackney since 2015. This month the East London space opens up for a free outdoor festival in Springfield Park. Nina writes for us about the festival and all the magic that will be taking place under the umbrella of Disco Loco in the Park...

The Hackney Showroom office looks like an homage to interior designer Camille Walala. Its one week to go until our big summer outdoor festival Disco Loco in the Park, with decor designed by Camille and we’re getting ready to cover the park in her signature bold, bright and high contrast designs.

On 12 August families from across North and East London will descend on Springfield Park in Hackney for a day of leftfield and future-facing live music, cabaret, literature and ideas. Our festival proudly programmes in a unique way, catering for adults and children simultaneously, without a whiff of nursery rhyme or baby talk in sight.

The main stage is curated by Beck Rosoman (Club Mofo) and features the best new UK and international artists. Headlining the Main Stage is K.O.G (of K.O.G and the Zongo Parade) who will bring funk, reggae and jazz infused African music to Springfield Park. Then we’ve got the sultry electronic art-pop of Perera Elsewhere, London/Glasgow indie-pop duo Sacred Paws, upcoming post-punk band Snapped Ankles and jazz fusion duo Blue Lab Beats.

Over on the cabaret stage, the hilarious Ginger Johnson hosts an exciting assortment of acts for all the family, hand-picked by Hackney Showroom co-director Sam Curtis Lindsay. Hackney Showroom resident artists Brigitte Aphrodite & Quiet Boy will treat audiences to a punk poetry/music performance, Guinness World Record Holding hula hoopers, Marawa’s Majorettes, will dazzle with their breathtaking tricks, lip-synching Destiny’s Child tribute act The Michelles and avant-garde dance/theatre duo Thick & Tight (Daniel Hay-Gordon and Eleanor Perry from Impermanence Dance Theatre).

Disco Loco in the Park is my favourite day of the year. Seeing my kid’s faces as they watch live bands in amazement at their skill and artistry, or in fits of giggles in the cabaret tent. The programming of queer and trans artists and artists of colour is all about changing the narrative that difference is indeed, well, different. Its also about pushing back against the attitude that queer culture is somehow only suitable for adults. My best magic moment last year was cabaret artist Scottee’s lively conversation with a marquee full of 5 year olds about patriarchy and gender and this year I’m looking forward to The Michelles teaching lots of mini Beyonces - girls AND boys - some fierce moves.

New this year is our Literature Stage where theatre director Jo McInnes will dramatise children’s books which celebrate family diversity - from step to extended families, gay, single parent and dual heritage - these stories are a chance for kids to see their families represented on stage by a cast of incredible actors.

The festival is also a chance to explore ideas. This year our New Futurism Ideas Market sees organisations addressing issues around future living and future skills with lively, interactive stalls. We’ve got tech organisations KidDesign, Technology Will Save Us and Code Club plus maverick gardeners Lend & Tend and community entrepreneurs Street Wisdom offering participatory activities for all.

It was ten years ago that, with a 6 month baby in tow, I got together with a group of friends to set up Disco Loco - a place where cultural activity is enjoyed by parents and kids together, rather than chaperoning our kids to enjoy art aimed squarely at the young. A place where slit-your-wrist sing-songs and nursery rhymes were banished and bobbins were wound right down.

This summer, the supremely talented artists that have been running Disco Loco with for 10 years - Emily Morris, Milo Speedwagon and Chu-i - and myself got together to mount a Disco Loco roadshow, touring our mobile sound system to Hackney primary school fetes, meeting local families to spread the word about our festival There is something so spectacularly special about the Disco Loco team, who always create such a magical experience. Somehow a space is created for kids to freely express themselves in a way they often haven’t done before. Shy kids, kids with behavioural or learning needs will get on the mic, blowing us away with their confidence and hidden talents. The look on their parents’ faces is unforgettable.

So bring on Saturday 12 August for a day of performance by some of the very best artists around today, in the beautiful setting of Springfield Park. We're running a bar all day, we've got ice cream, superb face painting, delicious food from proper London caterers Bickles of Brixton, the Prince George of Hackney, Lizzy's of Newington Green and more. With no ticket price and a real community vibe, get ready for some big summer fun.


Disco Loco in the Park 12 August | Springfield Park, E5 9EF | 11am-7pm | FREE