chapter  1
17 Pages

Marchers and Steppers

Memory, City Life and Walking
WithLes Back

Next, we head south of the river for a stroll through London’s postcolonial history of racism and resistance. Les Back’s ‘Marchers and Steppers: Memory, City Life and Walking’ introduces us to Lewisham, the capital of reggae soundsystem culture in Britain. In this impoverished and uncelebrated south-eastern corner of the capital, young black people forged a culture of resistance and joy in unlikely places, from church halls to youth clubs to municipal buildings. Visiting the ruins of Jah Shaka’s culture shop on New Cross Road, the place where the National Front was confronted and stopped in their tracks in 1977, and the site of the New Cross Fire that killed thirteen young black Londoners in 1981 who had been attending a house party, the chapter combines autobiography and historical reportage to argue that the echoes of this music – known as steppers – carries a legacy of pain, violence, joy, creativity and affirmation.