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Wednesday 17 July 2013

Frank's Cafe - Rooftop Film Club at Bussey Building & Queen of Hoxton

Sunday 30th June - Many people are aware of Peckham's myriad delights, but some are still fairly terrified. Fear not, The List has done a recce for you and I can happily give you the all clear, as long as you are ok with walking up to the top of a multi storey car park.  On the roof you will find Frank's Cafe which has been running for a few years now as part of the Bold Tendencies art project.  Bold Tendencies makes use of the top four floors of the car park and is free to visit from 11am to 11pm, Wednesday-Sunday, until 30th September.  There aren't many signs to comfort you on your way up the car park, but have faith and you will be rewarded.  Peckham Rye is incredibly easy to reach via the Overground, but this wasn't working so we were instead slow-cooked on the 345 for an hour.  Keep an eye out for Multi-Storey who put on incredible one off orchestral concerts each year in the car park - see the video below (which just won Best Documentary at the SE15 Young Filmmakers Competition - made by Joanna Beaufoy).

It was the opening night of Frank's and the weather was fantastic, which sadly meant that there were far too many people up there.  There seemed to be a single file line for the bar which wasn't moving at any great speed and we were thirsty, so we didn't hang around for long.  The drinks are affordable (hard t turn down a £5 Negroni) and there is good looking food on offer as well.  The 360 degree views are spectacular, and once the sun starts setting, it is hard to tear yourself away.  Luckily, our next stop was another rooftop that was even higher than Frank's, and about two doors down!

Luke, Natalie, Lauren and I made our way to the Bussey Building otherwise known as The CLF Art Café for Rooftop Film Club.  The Bussey Building has all sorts going on with music, theatre, dance, film and comedy events lined up.  On our way up to the roof, we were passed by a rowdy bunch of villagers who were uprising against the sexual tyranny of their feudal Lord - this turned out to be the cast and audience of Fuente Ovejuna mid-performance.  We were delighted to find the rooftop nearly empty with street food courtesy of Route 66, a bar with a happy hour still on, and enough deck chairs for everyone.  It is worth getting their early to bag your seats for the film to ensure that you can sit together, rather than to get a good view which isn't an issue.  We grabbed some drinks and food and took in the incredible views of the London skyline.  You can see everything from Battersea Power Station to the O2 with the London Eye, St.Pauls, The Shard and The Gherkin (plus Frank's Cafe!) in between.  The Californian style street food was tasty, if a little inefficient - it's the first time I have been served a King Prawn as an accompaniment to a burger.

As the sun started to set, we collected our headphones and slankets (a blanket with arm holes) for the showing of Zoolander, which was due to start as soon as the sun had sufficiently set.  The wireless headphones that you may have used before at silent discos are an excellent idea and work perfectly.  The slankets are definitely necessary even on a hot evening as the wind really picks up.  You are allowed to be on the rooftop just to use the bar before the film, but you will be sent back down once it starts.

We started to notice that the organisers looked a little flustered and were running around a lot.  It then materialised that the projector had broken, and that their only option was to get another one brought in as quickly as possible.  A few people left who probably didn't fancy leaving Peckham on a night bus on a Sunday evening at midnight, but most people stuck around and enjoyed the sunset some more. It is a truly beautiful place to watch the sunset, and it is worth paying the ticket price even if you aren't interested in the film! They did well to get a projector in fairly quickly, but were hilariously slow at getting it to work. Eventually the whole audience joined in with some backseat driving as they managed to flip the image upside down and back to front, and there was a huge cheer when it was finally corrected.  We were all given free popcorn and half price drinks to make up for the delay, and settled down to watch the ludicrous Zoolander at about 10pm.  

Monday 8th July - A week later, I went to try out one of Rooftop Film Club's other venues with flatmates Ali and Maggie on top of the Queen of Hoxton in Shoreditch.  During the winter this rooftop was home to Wigwambam, but during the summer months it becomes a rooftop garden.  Due to its location, it gets ridiculously busy which doesn't compare well to the Peckham branch.  The majority of people there were not staying for the film, and so the chairs weren't laid out beforehand.  Not knowing this we arrived early to bag seats, but this isn't necessary.  Turn up at 8.30 when they start to kick people out and rearrange the seating. The audience is cordoned off while they sort everything out - this is when you need to position yourself to get the best view!  The seats were like film set director chairs as opposed to deck chairs, and there were only blankets rather than slankets which again made me long for the Bussey Building, and the view of people working in their offices doesn't compare very well at all.  That said, they at least had a working projector, and when it comes down to it, it is still exciting and atmospheric to watch a film on a roof in the open air. Go for the Bussey Building if you can, but the other venues would still be worth going to if Peckham is sold out or doesn't take your fancy.  They have venues in Kensington, Ealing and Hackney at the moment, and seem to be expanding quickly.

In other news, I went to Punchdrunk's The Drowned Man : A Hollywood Fable last night, and it was superb.  I will write more about it at a later date, but for the moment, trust me and go and buy some tickets to this wonderful, immersive, promenade style piece of theatre that is set across four floors of an old postal building in Paddington.

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