My London: Claire Kalvis, DJ

Claire Kalvis – Queen Bee at the new Intoxica Records and resident DJ for Jumble and Pearls Vintage Art Fair – will be soundtracking the fair this Saturday 2 August with her collection of vinyl at The Book Club from 12-6pm. Here she chats to The London Word about Waterloo, family, community, Columbia Road Market, clothes, vinyl and where she goes to shop.

Waterloo is home. I live in a housing co-op, which is a bit like Hitchcock’s Rear Window. But there’s a great sense of community and we have the most fantastic communal garden. I love being so central and can walk pretty much anywhere. The Southbank, BFI, Rambert, The Young Vic, Borough Market and Covent Garden are all just minutes away.

I have vivid memories as a young teenager coming up to stay with my brother, who was living in a squat in Brixton. The bustle of the market, music booming, all senses turned up to ten. Amazing. Not at all like Bournemouth where I grew up!

My perfect London day out would first involve coffee! Then a wander through Soho, record shops, The Photographer’s Gallery or Spitalfields Market on a Vinyl Friday, looking for a nice frock in Brick Lane and Shoreditch. Lunch, maybe: Mishkin’s, Flat Iron or Comptoir Libanais with friends, some chatting and people watching.

My perfect London night out would involve drinks and dinner in the Narrow Boat pub or Elk in the Woods. An intimate event like Burnt Toast at The Globe Tavern, great tunes – all vinyl – and brilliant people. Or a gig. I saw Myron & E recently at Oslo. They were great and it’s the perfect venue. Taking it late at The New Evaristo Club or The Bussey Building and walking home over Waterloo Bridge. The city at night and the lights on the river – the best view of London Town!

What makes London unique? Layers of history and architecture, diversity and community and the different stories these create.

I think I like the allure of the next season. The first hint of spring, heat of summer, clear sky and chill of autumn. Hmmm… the idea of snow.

Somewhere new makes me feel creative. Just to walk down any street you don’t know, to feel in the moment and inspired by the detail of ordinary things.

I’ve still never been to The Geffrye Museum; social history, interiors and I’m hoping some strange fangled kitchenware, which would be right up my street. I love that time warp sensation.

The late Dave Squires is my favourite Londoner. He used to sweep the road in Lower Marsh. He had quiet integrity and time for everyone. He’d ask how you were doing, always ready with a kind word and the best advice. A man much loved and respected. There’s a plaque to his memory outside Waterloo Action Centre.

BFI Media Tec is London’s best kept secret. I love film, especially documentary and independent film, so it’s easy to while away a couple of hours accessing their archive and it’s free.

The New Evaristo Club on Greek Street is described as dark in all senses of the word and difficult to find. I’ve DJ’d there a few times on a wheelie bag; super lo-fi and charismatic. Oh and The Cinema Museum just off Elephant and Castle, that’s a crazy place.

The books by Colin MacInnes and films from the Free Cinema movement like We Are the Lambeth Boys best encapsulate London.

You can be 80 and wear hot pants, sing at the top of your voice and dress as a chicken and no one bats an eye in London.

In Waterloo there are metro/local supermarkets at every turn but nowhere to get a whole descent shop. Unless you like sandwiches.

The best advice I’ve ever been given was from my mum: If you want to know something ask.

After growing up rootless, coming to London was a revelation. My great aunt worked under Waterloo railway bridge throughout the Blitz making tea and sandwiches for troops coming through the station. The American pilots used to give her poppers to keep going. My mum did a voiceover for a lamp in The Dome of Discovery for The Festival of Britain. As a student at The Guildhall she spent nights in Jazz Clubs on Fleet Street with journalists scribbling. My Grandma worked for 25 years as a ladies’ tailor in Marshall Street, hand finishing all the WRNS Officers’ uniforms and met my grandad on a bus down the Old Kent Road. Several great uncles were lighter men on the docks at Hays Wharf, and my great uncle Len was a firefighter, part of the heavy rescue team, and decorated for his work during the Blitz. That’s just for starters! My past really is all around me.

My parents are my biggest inspiration. There was quite an age and cultural difference between them, but in every project they had together there was always room and respect for the wholehearted interest of the other. And there was always another project.

Visit Columbia Road Flower Market on a Sunday. Get the best coffee and a bacon roll, have a rummage, buy flowers. “These tulips are so cheap, you can buy them for people you don’t even like!”.

Jumble and Pearls is a great day out for the family with lots of art, vintage and designer stalls. I’ll be DJing there this Saturday, then I’m starting up the Northern Soul floor for Soul Train at The Bussey Building, Peckham from 10pm the same evening. I’m also teaming up with Nick Brown to reopen Intoxica Records – formally of Portobello Road – in Cecil Court WC2. We’re looking to launch September/October time. I’m very excited.’

Claire Kalvis, Wicked Lady, will be playing her favourite records on Saturday 2 August from 12-6pm at:

Jumble & Pearls Vintage Art Fair
The Book Club
100-106 Leonard Street

Free Entry

Listen to Claire Kalvis’s brand new mix here.

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The Leman Street Tavern, Aldgate
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