I'm a freelance writer currently living in L.A. Home is where the heart is and my heart is in London. I'm a massive music, travel and Arsenal fan.
Published July 26th 2012
The history and importance of Rough Trade as record label and record store speaks for itself. For the uninitiated, Rough Trade first opened its doors in 1976 at 202 Kensington Park Road, Notting Hill and quickly became one the most important outlets for the then growing punk scene and quickly became a gathering place for anyone buying or selling new DIY new wave music and fanzines.
In 1978, Rough Trade launched a label entitled Rough Trade Records and early signings included Stiff Little Fingers, Cabaret Voltaire and The Smiths. In 1982 the original Kensington Park Road shop moved to 130 Talbot Road, which still stands proud today (known as 'Rough Trade West'). Six years later a second store was opened in the basement of a skate store at 16 Neal's Yard, Covent Garden.
Closing down the Covent Garden location in 2007, Rough Trade then launched a 5000 sq ft flagship store in East London taking over the former Stella Artois brewery (now known as Rough Trade East). Rough Trade East is not just somewhere to buy music but an entire community and experience built around music. As store Director, Stephen Godfroy, explains "You've got to create an environment where people want to spend time. It's got to be complementary to modern lifestyles, distinctive and competitive on pricing and have confidence in recommending exciting new products and not rely on chart product."
As you might expect the store boasts more CD's than you can poke a stick at. In addition to CD's, Rough Trade East also has a book section, a café brewing the incredible Monmouth coffee, a photo-booth, an internet/workshop corner and last but not least, a performance stage. Yes, you could spend your entire weekend within these walls.
Every week the store hosts events (sometimes every day of the week!) ranging from live band performances, book readings, music community discussion groups, and even children's art workshops introducing children to the arts through play. The space is big enough to hold 200 people. Make a night of it and grab yourself an Asahi beer or a glass of wine, which are available for purchase every event. Be sure to sign up to the Rough Trade newsletter online to find out when events are on well in advance.
This is what music is all about and there's no better music experience than Rough Trade East.