Paper Dress Vintage celebrates live music for Independent Venue Week

Independent venues like Paper Dress Vintage support independent music. Artists and bands starting ou

Independent venues like Paper Dress Vintage support independent music. Artists and bands starting out would struggle to survive without them. Picture: Zig Criscuolo - Credit: Zig Criscuolo

While independent venues struggle to stay open across the country, Paper Dress Vintage - a boutique turned live music venue - has managed to survive financial crashes, rising rents and an ever-changing London landscape by becoming one.

Owner Steve Dix told the Gazette how putting on parties in 2007 and getting bands to play in their shop window saved the vintage clothing business he and his wife set-up.

"We started struggling to pay the rent and [needed to] get ourselves out of trouble.

"We put on parties and called in favours from friends, selling cans of lager out of a dustbin full of ice and cheap wine - and getting bands playing in our little shop window.

"It was a very DIY, seat of your pants kind of affair," he said.

Over the years Paper Dress Vintage has adapted, grown and moved location from Curtain Road to Mare Street.

The move to Hackney Central has meant a 'proper' stage set-up for gigs. Steve says it could not have been done without help from Arts Council grants and events like Independent Venue Week (January 27 to February 2).

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"Without small venues bands wouldn't have anywhere to play. You need to get on stage, work out what works, what goes down well and develop your stage craft. It's at the small, independent venues where that happens," said Steve.

One of those bands is Flamingods, who will be returning to Paper Dress Vintage for Independent Venue Week on Saturday.

The band did their first ever gig there in 2010 and are now selling thousands of tickets in packed out, high-capacity venues like Village Underground.

"It's nice," said Steve. "They're coming back and supporting us, which is what independent venue week is about really - championing the independent venue sector."

Paper Dress Vintage is putting on shows for Independent Venue Week, including Americana Fest and bands such as Oh! Gunquit, Eskimo Chain and The Pacers.

Click here for the venue's listings, and here for information on the Independent Venue Week campaign.

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