Tuesday, 31 August 2010

le macabre, soho

"Just around the corner on Meard Street was Le Macabre, which used coffins as tables and bakelite skulls for ashtrays. There were skull-shaped milk jugs, murals of skeletons and graveyards, and the jukebox featured the Funeral March."
Barry Miles, in London Calling: A Countercultural History Of London Since 1945

Le Macabre's beatnik goth interior went into more detail than Heaven & Hell round the corner, which Miles also talks about in London Calling, only Le Macabre didn't have a resident skiffle group called The Ghouls in all-black-painted hell basement, and both were only two of many themed coffee houses crammed into just a few streets. 

Most likely Le Macabre and the coffee bar boom had already crested in cool by the time the Rank Organization filmed it and its nearby hepcat hangouts in 1959, but this cinema news feature is a wry snapshot of the teenager as much as the craze and Le Macabre captures all the sensational angles perfectly - the strangeness of this new breed and their transgressive pleasures. No sex (we're British), but oh, that evil java bean.

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