I’m currently reading Kiss the Sky—an ebook about the urban jungle that London was the 90s (and maybe still is??). So far, it’s been an exhilarating and inspirational read. I’ve always loved London for its culture (so many free museums!) but this book takes me back to the time when I imagine London was most cool.
The book is currently available for free on Amazon in both the UK and US in the Kindle format, so get it while you can! I sent off a few questions to the travel-savvy author, DC Gallin (@dcgallin), to see what she thought about the alternative scene in London today….And also to find out which city she thinks is the coolest in Europe today! Bet you can’t guess which one ;-)
What inspired Kiss the Sky?
I wanted to remind people of the times of freedom we experienced, the free party scene and the amazing mind-bending art, music and drugs that enhanced these unforgettable nights. Control, money or looks were not at all the issues the world seems to be dominated by today.
What is your favourite scene, chapter or message in your book? In other words, if there is one thing that readers take away from reading Kiss the Sky, what would you like it to be?
My message is that art can change the world and that through art, music and dance we can shape our environment and create communities in the world based on unfiltered love for life. That we have to guard our freedom of thought and action with our lives – for what is material abundance without it? A prison surely.
Do you think that the vibrant cultural scene that was the UK in the early 90’s still exists in London? If not, what cities or destinations do you think are keeping this spirit alive?
These scenes move in cycles and although London will always attract a big cultural scene through its sheer size and demographic it has become too commercial and controlled by the state for a real bohemian avantgarde scene to flourish: now there are cctv cameras everywhere and artists need affordable work spaces, while London’s prices have gone through the roof. Squatting has recently been declared a criminal offence in the UK!
My gut feeling is that Berlin is now the bohemian center of Europe. I would love to come and check it out!
*Note from Adam: Yep, I’d say from the plethora of British expats in Berlin, the London cultural scene has almost entirely relocated to the capital of cool!
What are the bohemian & hipstery areas of London today that were also hip in the ’90s when Kiss the Sky is set?
Shoreditch has become uber trendy but is still a fun place to visit. Portobello Road has its attractions: avoid the busy Saturday market (touristy) and go on a Friday or Sunday to find cheap second hand clothes and taste the local flavour. Camden is the least changed, it has somehow still got an edge to it and is buzzing with people all week long! Well, they say it has the biggest concentration of musicians per square mile on the planet, so maybe that accounts for it? And there you can buy some crazy colourful clothes in that eccentric London style, second hand or new.
The best way to find out about London is to take walks in those arty neighbourhoods, hang in the cafés and meet the locals! Pick up some flyers and find out about the parties outside the ‘official’ club scene.
I know that you’re an advocate of the Do-It-Yourself approach and money-free living, as are your characters in Kiss the Sky. What advice would you give to readers who are short on cash but big on traveling the world?
That’s a great question! I worked for the airlines and saw the whole world while getting paid for it. It was hard work but you get a blast of a first impression!
Then there is always the possibility of busking – taking your skill, your passion and making money while you travel: our family of six stayed in Thailand for 6 months by selling Kiss the Sky on the beach. Again, it was hard slogging work selling books on a hot beach all day long, but rewarding because of the interesting connections we made with other travellers!
“It’s the journey that matters, not the arrival.”
Or you could work on organic farms and move around the world and meet people who are shaping their environments in hands-on ways. There are interesting networks of people you can find for example on http://www.workaway.info/ or http://wwoof.org/
Alternatively you could also take a deep breath and travel inwards: writing a book was a much wilder journey than all the travelling I did while relying on petrol to move around.
In other words: It’s up to us what the journey looks like and it should never, ever depend just on money but curiosity instead: the need to learn and experience new things and return something unique to the world. It’s important to give something back, not just travel and consume the world. Being short on cash forces us to exchange energy and that is cool! Travel on and keep in mind that it’s the journey that matters, not the arrival :)
GET THE BOOK!