Man about town: Luke Blackall


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The Independent Online

As the riots spread, diary plans disappeared in a flash – parties were cancelled, venues were closed and England's football friendly against Holland was called off.

The least significant outcome of a deeply unpleasant week? Perhaps.

However, it was the places that chose to remain open that gave an interesting insight into community spirit.

Understandably, many of the chattering classes chose to stay at home, alternately absorbing rolling news coverage of the unfolding events and composing tweets of condemnation (often masking a somewhat fetishistic enjoyment of the spectacle). But while residential streets remained eerily quiet, those out enjoying themselves were even more noticeable.

On Tuesday evening, Boujis nightclub in London's South Kensington was packed full of well-heeled revellers for one of their busiest nights of the year.

At the premiere of Glee 3D, people were dancing and singing in the aisles before the film even started.

In my area, despite the local council advice to stay indoors for fear of rioters, the only drunken excess I saw on street corners was a public display of the affectionate kind. And among the boarded-up shops and restaurants, a few hardy pubs stayed open.

Friends across London (the extent of my travels this week), reported much of the same.

Perhaps they were not all packed, but most contained determined pockets of ordinary people.

While some were perhaps motivated by the extra electricity in the air (which would certainly explain the PDAs), most seemed determined to have a good time and not to be forced by the rioters to stay at home.

Then there were the other public houses, which seemed to be playing host to a different type of customer: clean, pressed-and-dressed men eager to see some rioters, if only to mete out their own form of justice.

Whether it was an act of defiance, merely a letting off of steam or an attempt to laugh in the face of the apocalyptic predictions, the atmosphere all over the capital seemed to be that of a lifeboat party.

If the good ship Britannia was going have to weather a bit of a rough passage, people were going to make the most of their time at sea, be it drinking, fighting, or snogging on street corners.