The Austerity Games

Deep down beneath Dalston’s main strip lies a post-war bunker. Previous years have seen UV ping pong, shamanic drummers, harpists playing Fleetwood Mac and live crab-racing all as part of Land of Kings’ offering. This year, we present The Austerity Games, hosted by curator Gillian Fox. We caught up with her to find out just what the Dickens she has planned


Land of Kings: The Austerity Games. That sounds rather..austere-y. What is it?

Gillian Fox: Well, proving that cheap is definitely cheerful, we have planned a series of Olympian tasks to test the mettle of the most hearty land of Kings festival goer. It’s a case of come on down, roll up your sleeves and break out that competitive spirit for a chance to get into our secret winners’ enclosure.


LOK: What’s the inspiration behind them?

GF: The last time that London held the Olympics was in 1948 and it was nicknamed the Austerity Games, coming so soon after the end of the war. The country was still in rationing, but it was a real symbol of triumph against adversity… so 64 years later, another Olympics, another time of austerity – it’s time for another Austerity Games!


LOK: And the games will take place in a bunker?

GF: It’s a really special underground labyrinth. Visitors will be lured down with special instructions and set free to roam amongst the rooms finding games to play, films to watch and possibly some sporting music to listen to. Play your games right and you’ll be in for a vintage sporting medal as well.


LOK: Are there any prizes involved?

GF: This is austerity here, a simpler time – surely the only prize should be in the joy of taking part? But there will indeed be some very special treats available for those Olympians that make it into the winners’ enclosure.


LOK: You’ve worked on some pretty interesting experimental installations/games before – what’s been the one you had most fun working on/are most proud of?

GF: I have a great time with Lido Love, a one-night event I co-curate at London Fields Lido Pool. The event is always in January, so its a great challenge to get so many people engaged and happy to wander about outside for two hours on one of the coldest nights of the year! This year’s highlight for me was the Cardioke by House of Hot Breath, a 90s rave in the boys changing room.  Pass me the glowsticks.  What more can you want?


LOK: What are your top tips for spending an austere/cheap night out eating/drinking in Dalston?

GF: It’s the classic hip flask full of booze or a couple of cans of whatever is on 6 for £5, then people watching on Gillet Square with a tasty take out from Stone Cave – Falafel or a nice Lamb Shish – then dancing the night away in the Jazz Bar


The Austerity Games takes place on Friday 4th & Saturday 5th May exclusively at Land of Kings.  Follow how the games are progressing at Games