Pearl’s Return; help us create a recyclable, popup events space – arts and social club – reviving Pearl Alcock’s Black gay bar from 1960/70s Brixton. We need a creative, networked destination for expression, connection, and to increase Black LGBTQ+ joy

Pearl Alcock’s shebeen closed over 40 years ago, a couple of years before the ’81 Brixton uprising. The shebeen was a jewel among the many radical organisations and movements that had gathered near the now legendary ‘front line’ of Atlantic/Railton Road in the London suburb. It became just one of many lost LGBTQ+ spaces that closed as discreetly as they opened. Now, fading from memory, they remain resolutely ‘underground’ even in local histories. Since their loss, these vital centres for communities under pressure, seemed to be a regretful casualty of ‘progress’; never to be replaced.

Until now.

Pearl’s Return is an innovative approach to the creation of public spaces led by communities marginalised by racism, homophobia, and transphobia. By (re)creating Pearl’s shebeen, we will be making real our aspiration for ‘the edges’ to inform the ‘new normal’ – necessary if we are to create a fairer, fiercer ‘new extraordinary’.

“No more ashes. No more fires. Only love. And the unbridled urgency to build a world where the edges are imagined as the starting place for black liberation now and always.”

Darnell L. Moore (No Ashes in the Fire: Coming of Age Black and Free in America)

Pearl’s Return will create a public platform and cultural hub for London’s Black Queer communities, and enable accessible, shared cultural moments among a group who have been at high risk of isolation during the pandemic lockdown. We will use the space to connect Black LGBTQ+ people to relevant public health, heritage or community initiatives, generate opportunities for intergenerational arts and digital media collaboration among Black queer creatives.

We will learn massive amounts about the best ways to extend BLKOUT’s process of movement-building by reopening Pearl’s even if only for a couple of weeks initially. We will embed our style of creating the unexpected, unearthing cultural gems, holding space for dialogue, and disrupting silences right at the heart of communities, where Black LGBTQ+ lives have always been lived, and have too often not ‘mattered’..

Pearl’s Return will feature;

  • A programme of live music, theatre and arts, celebrating Black Queer Britons
  • A destination, meanwhile-use, event space reimagining local Black Queer heritage
  • Striking new content for social media and digital sharing that connects across social barriers

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