On Monday night I got an email from Occupy London inviting me and a few hand-selected journalists to a very special event. We were not told what to expect only that we should meet at a certain time at a bar in Shoreditch on Tuesday night. Instantly I had the gut feeling that I was to witness something historic – despite not knowing at all what to expect.
On the evening after a few drinks we were told that we would be going to the UBS Christmas party – but to a slightly alternative one.
It was the Occupy Christmas party at the Bank of Ideas – where as we learned some very special guests would be performing. To all our amazement Radiohead and Massive Attack had announced to play in front of a small crowd of activists to thank them for their engagement and their dedication to make a change.
I felt humbled and honoured to be invited along to take photographs. It made me so happy to have this powerful passion for photography and the heart for the Occupy movement – which both made it possible for me to see some of the most respected musicians of our generation performing in this historic context. I was buzzing all the way on our walk to the Bank of Ideas – which is only about 5 minutes away from London’s Liverpool Street – at the heart of the financial district.
When we arrived at the former UBS bank building we were guided downstairs to the tiny basement where already about 50 people had gathered.
Soon after a few really entertaining comedy, poetry and burlesque acts….
…3D from Massive Attack started playing his DJ set.
He soon was joined by Radiohead’s Thom Yorke. I had the feeling though that because of his longish hair and his really laid back approach many people didnt notice him at first. But that soon changed.
The place packed really quickly and the crowd of around 100 started dancing to a set that felt at least 90 minutes long. I didnt look on my watch as I was way to busy trying to catch the awesome atmosphere in the Christmas decorated room – which was heating up pretty quickly. You could really feel that the crowd – made out of many people who I had seen many times at the various Occupy sites – was thankful to have this kind of party in their building. I am sure it must have given them a massive motivation and confidence boost to have support from two such musical legends.
One little downpoint for me though was that at some point there where just too many cameras there – including me. Although it was a “secret” gig, suddenly at least 3 or 4 video cameras and at least 3 more photo cameras all tried to snap a shot of Thom and 3D, blocking the crowd from the DJ decks and thus turning this for a while into a little media spectacle rather than an intimate christmas party gig. But of course I also know this is just what it is – without the media no one whould have known about the event afterwards and no one would have known that Radiohead and Massive Attack are supporting the Occupy movement. It was the best and well deserved press they could get after all.
Still though – after I felt I had at least a few good snaps – I put my camera aside and joined the dancing crowd – massive smile on my face all along.
But just after Thom was finished and was about to leave I took all my braveness together and went over to ask him if I could take his portrait in front of the Occupy poster – I did it because I officially took photos for Occupy that night and thought this would be a good shot for them to help their cause. He quickly agreed – but in all honesty I m not sure about it – he looks like he didn’t enjoyed it that much. Well I only had 3 seconds with him. Maybe I should instead have just asked him if he wanted to rip one of the christmas crackers open with me. Maybe that would have cheered him up a nod more. 😉
Please also watch this interview recorded on the roof of the Bank of Ideas – where both Thom and 3D talk about why they support Occupy. They really mean it. Occupy, Thome York and 3D – I salute you.
And here some more photos of the night which I will remember forever.