DJ, poet and teacher Charlie Dark started running 10 years ago – at night to hide his lack of fitness. Run Dem Crew evolved out of the group of friends who joined him – people who would never join traditional athletics clubs. He has since founded Bridge The Gap, connecting similar worldwide organisations through “running culture, lifestyle, music, art and creativity.”
Describe your ideal day off in Hackney.
My morning would start with yoga and meditation at the Stretch Yoga Studio in Broadway Market, a run through Victoria Park followed by lunch at Vu Viet. I would go record shopping at Rough Trade, followed by a film at Rich Mix and then dinner at Busaba Eathai.
What is your favourite bar or restaurant?
My favourite place is the vegan spot called Cook Daily in Box Park. The food is always excellent, but I’m particularly fond of the Hard Bowl.
What is your favourite shop?
Over the last year I’ve been getting deeply into modular synthesis and building a modular system for my studio which has meant a lot of time spend staring at forums and immersing myself in a completely alien world. London Modular is a great shop in Hackney Wick where you are encouraged to part with the contents of your wallet in exchange for a cup of tea, some non-geeky conversation and a generally welcoming atmosphere in what can be an intimidating scene for the newcomer. It reminds me of hanging out in record shops back in the day and just spending time around people who are more knowledgeable than me, which is always good for the ego and creative soul. It keeps me humble.
What was your most memorable night out in Hackney?
It would have to be one of my first warehouse parties back in the early 1990s in a building next to Old Street roundabout which is now an office-chair showroom. I remember hearing Joe Smooth’s Promised Land just as the sun came up through a huge skylight and then emerging into Old Street wondering how an earth I was going to get home.
What is your favourite open space in Hackney?
Arnold Circus Bandstand, hands down. There used to be a great collective of people who put on unofficial shows in bandstands around London and I went to some great shows there. It’s such an unusual space.
Where would you take visitors to show them the best of Hackney?
I would take them for pie and mash in Shoreditch and then to Mare Street market for some people watching.