As dear Natalie Imbruglia once sang, ‘I’m Torn’ – and I really am over this: the future of London’s Astoria, the press (notably excluding the Standard) are awash with stories this morning highlighting the campaign, petition and website of Jade and Sarah who are being rather vocal about how something must be done to save London’s “legendary, fantastic” Astoria.
Now on one hand I’m all for the campaign, over the last ten years I’ve had a huge amount of fun in the Astoria, so many thursday, friday and saturday night’s have been danced away in there, watching bands that range from Republica and Texas to Steps and Boyzone, and from Legends like Kylie to passing fads like Ian Van Dahl and Kelly Osbourne. I’ve met many friends in the Astoria, and have fond memories of taking Dave there when we first met before stumbling back on the night bus pissed as farts back to my little flat. Whether it’s creeping in to see new and upcoming bands trying to avoid the goths and teenagers throwing up in the stairwells, or smugly wandering past the crowds who forget to get queue-jump’s for G-A-Y the Astoria’s been a big part of my social life for a long time, and for that reason I’d be really sad to see it go… especially if it’s owners, the developer Derwent Valley, get their own way and build more shops and luxury apartments on the site – like that particular corner of the west end isn’t desperately short of those two commodities!
But on the other hand the building really is a shit hole, it desperately needed renovation when I first crossed it’s threshold (and that was some years ago!) and it still needs it now, the sound system’s rubbish, the lighting rig (for a club at least) is outdated, the whole place is filthy, it’s badly lit throughout with steps that are so easy to miss that not a night goes by without seeing someone go arse over tit in the place… and that’s just the inside, from the outside it’s even worse, the peeling paint, the smashed windows, the cables falling over the place, the lack of entrance space… I could just go on and on, it really is a monstrosity compared to the recently renovated buildings on either side.
My issue here is I’m stuck between my past and the cities future: I’d be saddened to see it go as I’ve had some blinding night out in it, but in the state it’s in right now it’d take millions to put the place right, and I don’t think anyone involved in the ownership of the building right now is going to want pour that sort of money in with the threat of a compulsory purchase order for a new crossrail station hanging over the place… And I’m presuming that their is a clause to redeveloping the site that any developer must build an area into the new building to house the crossrail station should that ever happen (as they did at Moor House in the city…), so to knock the old building down and replace it with a new one with a void for a station within it is probably still millions cheaper than starting remedial work on the virtual ruin that is the Astoria.
Check out the petition here: savetheastoria.org