There aren’t really waves and boats and surfers and seagulls, but there is sand. Forty-five tonnes of it, to be precise, scattered around Ruskin Square.
Croydon on the Beach kicked off its eight week run on Thursday 20th July, opening day of theAmbition Festival, with food, cocktails, music and beach balls. Beats & Eats and the ever impressiveStreet Cocktails had congregated beside East Croydon station to deliver a summer party experience unlike anything Croydon has ever seen. To add to the intrigue, the entire event is also being sponsored by St Lucia’s tourism board.
Whilst the sunnier, balmier climes of the tropics may not be entirely present in the Cronx, there’s no denying the atmosphere – there’s something positively unifying about the basics: food, drink and music. The set-up is a little different: aside from the sand that sweeps across a large section of Ruskin Square, there’s also a white gazebo erected against the back wall, housing a stage.
The music was in full swing when we arrived, and acoustic versions of classic songs rang out around East Croydon. People queued in their droves to get their hands on a variety of exciting street foods – Thai burgers, jerk chicken, pizza, hot dogs and lasagne – whilst Street Cocktails, fixed centre stage, delivered its usual blend of crazy cocktails to all who braved a lunchtime tipple.
I didn’t want to go back to the office
There were good vibes throughout as people grabbed their lunch and gathered at the benches and deckchairs. I and a couple of friends decided to make good use of the beach and set about making a fort of sand castles. (There’s always one mate that thinks it’s funny to trample on them)
Things got lively when the Bikini Beach Bandtook the stage. This four piece Hawaiian shirt clad, fez-wearing outfit brought classic rock, soul and blues tracks to life with their uplifting instrumental versions. Tunes like ‘Wipeout’ had people shuffling in their seats, smiling and reaching for the camera phones. I didn’t want to go back to the office.
The Street Cocktails team assured me that the party would continue the following night and insisted we come down to celebrate the end of the week. With an invitation (and drinks) like that, it’s hard to say no.
Platform Ruskin Square has undoubtedly secured a loyal fan base with its commitment to providing a delicious and exciting dining experience for the people of Croydon, but the beach delivers an extra twist. It proves that Croydon can have nice things and that we’re on the cusp of some real, positive changes.
Summer in Croydon is shaping up to be very exciting.