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This Cockney-Themed Christmas Pop-Up Is Problematic

Cockney'tivity looks like a disaster

A press shot for Cockney’tivity
Design My Night

A new, immersive Cockney-themed supper club experience was announced today. The Cockney'tivity Christmas pop-up, organised by Zebedee Productions, will take place in a “disused Hackney pub” and run from the 1 – 22 December.

The three-course menu does not include turkey — one of the more obviously Christmassy Christmas foods — instead offering “free range herb buttered roasted supreme of chicken,” as the principal protein, accompanied by “all the trimmings.” Elsewhere, there are options to eat “roasted vegetable soup w/herb oil and garlic crouton or smoked salmon, pickled radish salad with horseradish cream.” The experience costs Fifty Five Pounds.

Sound off?

Well, the press shots are a disaster: actors are depicted variously as drinking and smoking whilst pregnant, wearing fake tan, acting confrontationally, appearing feckless, taking selfies, selling jewellery, and insufflating what might just possibly be a Class A drug in a ‘Gents’ toilet. It’s reasonable to assume that the organisers have made some assumptions here: that these behavioural stereotypes are synonymous with an area that has traditionally been less economically prosperous than other parts of the city.

And yet, the wrongs of theme-parking and commodifying the tropes of working-class culture seem to have bypassed the organisers entirely. Calling it “a very Cockney Christmas story,” they merely state that “The Cockney'tivity is a Christmas dining experience like no other featuring three short acts of hilarious festive drama around three courses of delicious food all based in an authentic east end boozer.”

“Like no other” for a reason. “Hilarious” and “authentic”? From the reaction on Twitter, it would appear to be neither, even if, at the time of writing, one day has already sold out.

In area of London that has faced recent difficulties with gentrification, class tensions and “drunken hipsters,” a commercial pop-up that clumsily confronts the three — with reckless irony — was probably an event Hackney could have done without.

The literature states that the event will culminate in “a raucous finale that will have you dancing on your chairs with your hands in the air.” Perhaps because — rumour has it — there’s free entry to Alcotraz for anyone who attends.