Fancy a dance? Then head to Willesden Junction Station this Saturday
Music journalist’s latest project invites the public to shake a leg
When writer Rose Rouse moved to Harlesden with her son Marlon she knew nothing about the vibrant community.
So the music journalist decided to explore her new surroundings by inviting strangers to show her around.
Since starting the project, called Not on Safari in Harlesden, she has discovered places she never knew existed and walked with broadcaster Louis Theroux, philosopher Robert Rowland Smith, and even Vince Power, who used to own the internationally-famous Harlesden music venue The Mean Fiddler.
“I wanted to discover where I lived,” Rose explained.
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“I have done a lot of travel journalism but suddenly thought, I don’t need to travel, there is so much I don’t know about, right on my doorstep.”
Residents may also recognise Rose from her sitting next to the Jubilee Clock, in Harlesden, underneath a sign saying ‘Talk To Me’.
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“I had no idea whether people would talk or whether I would know what to say,” Rose said. “But there is a wonderful sense of warmth about opening yourself up to strangers.”
Since starting the project, which has been transformed into a successful blog, the mother-of-one has met some interesting characters along the way.
“Louis Theroux was just as funny, inquisitive and self-deprecating as he is in his documentaries,” she said. “But I had to stop him asking me questions.”
However, there have been more serious encounters too, like meeting anti-gun crime campaigner, Michael Saunders, who walked her around Stonebridge – once dubbed London’s gun crime capital.
But perhaps Rose, a music journalist of the 80s, was always destined to live in Harlesden – the birthplace of alternative music venue, The Mean Fiddler. She said: “It was the reason I first came here to review the likes of Billy Bragg and jazz legend, Sun Ra.
“Vince Power arrived in his American Lincoln which swished into the Plaza car park. He enjoyed telling me about The Mean Fiddler doors which he bought from a chocolate factory down Scrubs Lane. Not to mention the tales of Paul McCartney and John Martyn.”
Rose’s next project, Dance Willesden Junction, will take place at Willesden Junction Station this Saturday (24) at 2pm.
Twelve dancers will perform by the station, interacting with members of the community. Rose said: “I feel much more connected to my local community. I know Danny my newsagent arrived from Pakistan in the 60s and that my Brazilian local seamstress is also a pastor. I discovered the Salvation Army and what brilliant endeavours the Harlesden Town Team is up too.”
Rose plans to carry on her walks for another year and hopes they will become the basis for her fourth book.
She would also like to hear from members of the community about places she has yet to discover.
n To contact Rose email firstname.lastname@example.org