A New Book Pays Homage to London's Legendary Dragon Bar

The 300-page book traces the venue’s impact on the city’s pioneering street artists.

Art
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The Dragon Bar 1998-2008 is a newly published ode to a long-gone — but not forgotten — venue. During its decade of operations, the influence and impact of London’s Dragon Bar wasn’t regarded as anything particularly special. In the aftermath of its closure, however, the venue has gained something of a cult status as one of the defining underground hotspots of street art.

Published under their zine Pavement Licker and created by James-Lee Duffy and Josh Jones, the 300-page book is billed as an “oral history” of the bar with contributions from those who witnessed the chaos of the Dragon Bar firsthand.

The book contains interviews with street artists such as Banksy, Faile, INVADER, ELK, Mode 2, EINE, Lucie Flynn, CEPT, Sweet Toof, AIKO and James Jessop, among others.

During the Dragon Bar’s lifetime, the majority of those artists had yet to have a breakthrough with their own work and careers. The bar was an incubator of sorts and provided free gallery space to artists. Banksy, for one, held his first London show there, while Faile and Bäst played their inaugural UK shows in the space.

It was also known for its prominent graffiti – covering the floors, walls and even the toilets – and packed calendar. Beyond art shows and live music, the Dragon Bar allowed its patrons to organize their own events, whether it be a rave or a block party. Then, tragically, in 2008, the bar was burnt down.

Perhaps the most telling sign of the Dragon Bar’s DIY ethos – something the book seeks to capture – is that throughout the images that fill its 300 pages, only a single cell phone appears.

The Dragon Bar 1998-2008 is available for purchase online for £39.99 GBP ($50 USD).

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