Whilst the price of pretty much every leisurely commodity in London bubbles – fuelled by a putrid concoction of gentrification, international land grabbing, and an almost daily schedule of 'exotic' street food festivals or roof-top parties – one could always find solace in two things: free exhibitions and £7 haircuts.
So, after commissioning a very cheap short back and sides and clean shave for all under £10 I headed towards Somerset House to embrace – for free – its exhibition marking the purported return of the rudeboy.
Curated by musical photographer Dean Chalkely and all-round creative Harris Elliott, Return of the Rudeboy bills itself as "an immersive exhibition exploring the style, swagger and significance of the 21stcentury Rudeboy".And it lives to this grand billing.
The exhibition has style and swagger in abundance. The Terrace Rooms are tall, airy, and perfectly lit – allowing visitors to properly admire Chalkley's crisp recording of models, bloggers and general swaggerdons embracing the rudeboy style of 1950's West Indian immigrants. Perhaps the most noteworthy photograph of all is the multi-angle shot of Seye Adelekan defiantly clutching a cigarette between his teeth whilst wearing the most majestic royal blue suit. This exhibition provides a sartorial master class, with a lookbook of mannequins dressed in shiny shoes,sharp suits and hats also on display.
But Return of the Rudeboy goes beyond merely displaying dapper models. Visitors are invited into the inner consciousness of a generation of early black-brits disaffected by rampant racism and the need to find a sense of belonging in rainy England. As such, the exhibition displays massive sound systems blasting out rudeboy music and what can only be described as skateboard-come-bicycle.
Return of the Rudeboy comprehensively details every aspect of Rudeboy life – with Chalkely and Dean even turning a whole room into a working barbershop dishing out haircuts, for £32...