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Moving to Hastings: a review of venues, gigs and the town from the perspective of a Londoner

Deciding to move down to Hastings was perhaps the biggest leap Dean J. Moore has taken in his life. HOT’s newest journalist writes about his first week in his new home town…

While all of my friends were preparing to begin another year at college or University (or even starting the latter), I was spending my time in dingy, unwelcoming London cafes writing poetry and trying to escape potential homelessness. Luckily, I did. Thanks to a lovely close friend and his equally as lovely parents. Although they offered me a place to stay, there was a dilemma (or so I had perceived at the time) – they were moving to Hastings in a week.

So I was met with three choices; either stay in London, couch hopping; stay with a friend in an equally as problematic situation; or go to Hastings and perhaps gain new experiences to write about.

“Hastings it is!” I told myself, after days of pondering. And so, just like that, it was set. I was about to move to this sea front town that I had never been to, I had no contacts or friends in and I had little understanding of in regards to its subcultures, local colloquialisms within social circles of my age group or (besides the 1066 battle) local history.

My first night in Hastings wasn’t a memorable one. Besides being stranded in the pouring rain at a bus stop somewhere between Brighton and Eastbourne, soaking wet and smoking roll ups while the friend I was going in to Hastings with kept my spirits high, nothing too significant happened. It was the dead of night when we finally made it to Hastings, and it was far too dark to admire the greenery, parks and woodlands I was soon to discover. The said friend and I just decided to dry off, and stay in watching meaningless TV and catching up.

The next day was my first taste of Hastings. Now living relatively close to Alexandra Park, my friend and I decided to go and have a wander through it on our way in to town. “Pretty lovely park”, I exclaimed to him as we made our way through a mob of ducks fighting over dropped pieces of bread. And from Alexandra Park, we went in to town and checked out the sea front and arcade.

However, my first true experience of living in Hastings was about a week later, and it lasted over a period of several days. It started by being introduced to a few lads of around my age, who were going to check out a musician by the name of King Size Slim at a venue called Frank’s Front Room. They asked if I’d like to tag along, and I happily accepted the invitation.

As a huge Roots Reggae enthusiast, I was overjoyed to arrive at Frank’s Front Room to an offbeat guitar being played while the voice of a growling middle aged man sung covers of reggae tunes as well as his own uniquely flavoured blues and ska. King Size Slim absolutely captivated the entire venue, and held each one of us in the palm of his charismatic, cheeky and charming hand. When he wasn’t jokingly making eye contact with beautiful women dancing hypnotically on the dance floor (which was basically the only part of the venue to have no chairs or tables as opposed to an actual built-in dance floor) he was making even the tightest lips in the venue pry open in laughter with his jokes, or merrily having people clapping or singing along to his music. If every gig in Hastings is like this I’d never want to leave, I thought as I made my way home.

The next night out was at the JD bar, on a Saturday night. Dub Generals were playing and as previously mentioned, I’m a fiend for the Reggae. So instinctively, I wanted to check this one out. Although I had been feeling a little shattered that night, debating all evening whether or not to go, I ended up deciding to go along to it.

The first thing I noticed about the JD bar was its breathtaking interior. Beautiful wooden floors, parallel to the bar was seating arrangements that looked as cozy as a living room and an overall humble and quite modest look about it. The basement was small, yet vibrant as people crowded down there it to hear the jungle, drum and bass and odd dubstep track. Upstairs was, simply put, paradise for someone who may share the same taste in a venue and music as me. Roots Reggae boomed from the sound system, the bass shook the floor while only a dozen or so people gathered around it, dancing softly to the reggae beat as though they had never known the drunken mayhem of macho men and stunning women dancing provocatively to the fast and furious music that was shaking the foundations of the basement, seeping out on the high streets of Hastings town centre.

Of course, I quickly found that Hastings has it’s more relaxing attractions. Absolutely phenomenal views from all over the town, each hill top triumphantly rewards you for managing to reach the top of it with astonishing landscapes. My favourite would have to be the view from the West Hill by the sea front, one of the first places I went and had a look at when I first came to Hastings. Usually, I’d check somewhere out and move on, but the view overlooking the sea on a cloudless afternoon from West Hill was one that I had to stop in my tracks and sit to admire it in awe, having never seen something so wonderful in London.

Overall, I applaud Hastings for being one of the loveliest places I have been to, a place rich in British culture and history, beautiful architecture, views that demand they be seen and woodlands that you can purposely and happily get lost in for hours watching the birds and other wildlife potter about. I came to Hastings not to simply live here and go back to London when the time is right, but in a hope that I can gain experiences and see places of wonderful descriptions that I can use to influence whatever I write. And thus far, the journey certainly hasn’t been disappointing.

With Love, Peace and Blessings,

Dean J Moore

Posted 15:50 Wednesday, Nov 14, 2012 In: Hastings People

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