Lovebox 2011 - Friday

Anything is possible
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It's Friday, it's five o'clock, it's Grove Road and there's sunshine and a carnival atmosphere. Droves of sunnied, straw-hatted people are making their way to Victoria Park's Lovebox.

En route, desperate touts scavenge for tickets and chat is all about the djs and Snoop Dogg. 'Who cares if it's going to rain tomorrow?' laughs one girl. 'It's Snoop fucking Dogg and Warren G!' The vibe is up, up, up and away like the symbolic flying swings next to the main stage - the epitome of the Lovebox vibe. Am I in someone's very large, bizarre back garden? I am definitely not in East London, surely. This is way too chilled. But the colour and vibrancy tells me I am absolutely in the multi-ethnic, creative, crazy north east of the capital. Flip flops, hot pants, strappy dresses, not a welly in sight and clear blue skies defying the weather forecast. Lovebox is, however, the place for paradoxes and impossibilities. For one, it's based in the notorious gang-infested area of London. Above the lush green avenues of trees, rises the tower blocks, Around the twenty foot wall, desperate ticketless youths try in vain to vault to get in. Inside, it feels like a big party with groups of friends welcoming strangers,artists, eager teenagers, parents, kids, funfairs, daisy chains aplenty, straw hats and dancing all over the shop - not a negative vibe in the air. Everyone seems to be celebrating the gentler, more creative atmosphere. Even beside the canal, the graffiti is colourful, sweeter and funnier than the tags of yore. Intimidation is so passe. This Lovebox anything is possible.

Yeah, there are far too many pretty individuals of all shapes and colours dancing freely - that's the only intimidation. I'm used to seeing people totally wasted, rolling about in mud a good six hours before the show. Here the vibe is cool - people are letting loose by dancing like mental around one of many dj sets and vans scattered across the park.

One in particular is the Art Against Knives van. I'm drawn to it as there's a rave - no, I mean a proper full-on, dancing on tables, hands in the air, limbo somersaulting dance-off happening - under the trees in between tables of free fairy cakes. Have I entered another dimension? There's a few guys in wheelchairs and a well-tanned blonde girl doing the limbo underneath a raving young rasta.

Art Against Knives is a young creative charity set up after Oliver Hemsley, a twenty one student at Central St. Martin's College, was tragically stabbed at Arnold Circus in Shoreditch. Although now confined to a wheelchair as a result, Oliver's artistic and creative enterprise remains as vital and unlimited as ever as the charity works to reduce the root causes of knife crime through youth-led artist initiatives to violent gang culture. If anything sums up the ethos of Lovebox, it's surely this. The charity also runs ourspace - an outlet initiative that aims to reduce knife crime by engaging young people in deprived areas, particularly providing creative resources and a platform to grow their employability and discover the creative possibilities on their doorstep. Tonight, there's a range of the current coolest underground djs in London playing sets here and there's a good 300 jiving vigorously around crates, fairy cakes and a sound system out of the back of a van. I thought those days had gone. Saturday, it's the competition of the sharpest under-25s up and coming djs from East London so there'll be another mass gathering under the trees.

Across the park, dj sets and tents are rammed. Ed Banger has been rocking the Bacardi tent since tea time and the Gaymers Stage (Main stage closed til Saturday) has Example and band totally holding the crowd. 'We came, we saw, we killed the crowd!' he raps and indeed that appears to be the case as it jumps up and down, lifting two fingers in obedience to Example's command, singing along to 'Hey Good Morning' and 'You Changed the Way that You kissed me.' He also showcases his new single from the new album due out in six weeks (which he refuses to speak about). I saw a seventy three year old granny in a floppy hat, tea dress and stars and stripes sunnies getting down as rigorously as the others.

Lovebox is showcasing what is really going on right now and it isn't what the News of the World told us...

Words by Jaime Scrivener

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