Dalston Junction: the best and worst of London


  • Train – Dalston Juntion & Dalston Highland (Overground)

  • Landmark – Ridley Road Market, Dalston Rio Cinema

  • Random Fact – The television show The Mighty Boosh is set here.

By Corinne Chang

Dalston Junction is famous amongst London’s youth for its colourful nightlife. Two minutes away from the feasting and revelry, however, there is another, less glamorous side to Dalston.

High-end flats are under construction near shopping malls, original artistic scrawls can be found here and there, bizarre dresses look stylish on confident pedestrians: when you are in the prosperous part of Dalston Junction, you will be convinced that it is the epitome of cosmopolitan London.

The marketplace

Walking along the street, you can see the popular and famous Ridley Road Market. You may think this will again be an expensive place designed to rip-off tourists and customers.

However, judging from the price tags and the appearance of shoppers, you may start wondering: this is by no means a paradise.

In fact, the service area of Ridley Road Market has been poor for over a century. There is a huge contrast between the life in Dalston during the day and at night.

“See the asparagus. Even if it is half the price of other supermarkets, seldom do customers buy this. £1.50 a bunch is too much,” said a vegetable seller.

In the heart of Dalston nightlife, £1.50 can barely buy you half a pint.

People still sweep through the differing sides of Dalston Junction. James Taylor (not that James Taylor), a 26-year-old musician, shops in Ridley Road Market during the day, and frequents pubs at night.

James referred to Ridley Road Market as a “real” world, where you can see shouting, bargaining and even theft happening now and again.

“I don’t need those silly nice things. I’m tired of being pretentious,” he said. “Dalston Junction is a real mix of the traditional with a new trend of middle-class English people.”

James moved to Dalston Junction two years ago, anticipating that the eclectic cultural mixture would inspire him to be more creative, to chase his musical dream of being the next… well, the next James Taylor.

In the area, there are traditional Turkish and African communities, but groups of young British Londoners are beginning to form.

The next Shoreditch?

More and more people are moving into flats here, leading many to dub Dalston ‘the next Shoreditch’.

Those who are a little more cash-strapped may find themselves left behind as Dalston sees its fortunes changing, morphing the area into one that’s more prosperous and perhaps more pretentious.

It remains to be seen how the changing of the cultural tides will affect the Dalston Junction area as a whole, but if Shoreditch is anything like a guide, residents can expect everything to start getting dramatically more expensive.

For more on Dalston Junction, read about Michael Edwards' walk through the area, or click here for more useful information.