This is a true story. In the summer of 2017 me and a mate came up with the seemingly brilliant idea of going to Margate for the night. We both had fond memories of visiting margate from our childhood. The funfairs, the beach, the bumper cars, it seemed to make sense. However as we are both in our 20s we understood we may not be able appreciate funfairs and bumper cars but still the beach and perhaps nightlife would be a reason to go there, or so we thought.
When we arrived, immediately I noticed the atmosphere seemed different from my memories as a child. The funfair was non-existent, and the place seemed rather desolate. I parked the car and booked in at a B&B. A small family run B&B, the owners of Arab descent offering shisha. Seemed like a decent start. I went up to my room and was surprised to see such dated curtains and the carpet had seen better days. The overall decor was like something from the early 80s, but then again I wouldn’t be in my room much so me and my mate shrugged this of and joked about it.
We wondered outside about 7pm to grab a bite to eat. On the way I couldn’t help notice a group of people congregated near a bus stop drinking. A few metres on I saw another group in a corner drinking. A bit further down another group doing the same. This may seem normal as its a Saturday, but I could see that these were not warm up drinks to prepare for a night out as they were not dressed to go out. They also were not down and outs, nor were they teens. They were just drinking in groups, looking like they were drowning their sorrows.
Further down I saw a girl about 7 playing by herself outside, with no parents in sight. Alarms bells started to ring for me, this wasn’t the Margate I remember. Me and my mate grabbed some fish and chips which were not bad and excellently priced, so my faith was temporarily restored. We walked further down to the Wetherspoons only to find that there were hardly any people in there. This seemed strange for a Saturday night. I went to the bar to get a drink and on my way back to my table a lady walked up to me and asked if she could join me. I said ok why not. Things were looking up. She had two mates with her so they made their way upstairs to where me and my mate were sitting.
There was more light upstairs, this was not a good thing as they didn’t look so good in the light of day. But hey, it’s all about personality so we got talking. One of the girls bragged about living in hackney east london and how she moved her when she was 14. Her friend sat there with her leg draped on the table displaying a flowery tattoo which covered most of her leg. She seemed determined for us to see this tattoo as she kept her leg on the table the whole time. The third friend sat there in a mute-like state not uttering a word. This was not fun! My mate went to get a drink. We continued talking until the girl with the tattoo accused me of being boring. As I am black and dress a certain way I think she expected me to be the typical stereotype, which I am not. I told her she was weird and we engaged in a teen-like argument which involved her saying she is going to call her mates down to **** me up. I laughed this off and called her bluff welcoming all challengers (the bravado kicked in). After a few mins of this I decided to walk away and sit on another table, I didn’t come here for this. I stayed on for another hour with my mate then we left. As we walked out I could see and hear those lovely girls being loud and abrasive, jeering etc. I gave them a winning smile and walked out.
We then walked towards the main nightclub which appropriately was called Escape. It was boarded up and some locals told us its closed due to the recession. We asked them where we can go, they said go ramsgate (a neighbouring town) or kabuki (up the road). I asked which is better, they said they’re both ****. Decisions, decisions…. With that in mind we decided to walk towards kabuki. On the way we were greeted by two 40 something women (who looked to be in a drug induced state) growling at us. I replied “sorry what was that” She growled “CIGARETTE” I told I don’t have any. She and her friend ran off still shouting, what they were saying I will never know. We got to kabuki and it looked fairly lively despite being a small venue. We got a couple drinks but noticed the atmosphere was quite hostile. Being a londoner I’m accustomed to hostility when going out but did not expect this in margate. There was one character about 5ft 9, but a stocky fella wearing a sleeveless top, looked like he was in steroids. He was staring at me and my mate and everyone else and seemed to be out looking for trouble. Enough is enough… After an hour we decided to try the other “sh*t” option of Ramsgate. We jumped in the car, my mate still had his pint in hand as kabuki seems to let people walk out with bottles and pint glasses. Thankfully I was driving and not my mate.
Within 10-15 mins I was in Ramsgate. Ramsgate looked a bit more upmarket and had a nice river, canal area. We went to a bar there which as my reliable source said lived up to its billing as “sh*t”. At least the atmosphere was friendly so we had a couple there then left and went back to dreaded margate. As our hotel was there we had no choice but we contemplated getting our bags and getting the hell out of there, believe me. Here we go, back to Kabuki. My mate stayed in there but I had enough so I sat in my car listening to music. As I sat outside there was an almighty punch up spilling onto the streets outside kabuki. A couple of guys were eyeing up someones girl and a fistfight broke out with mates jumping in. One man was beaten real bad and another ran away. I called my mate and he was alright. I told him in know uncertain words “lets get the f*ck out of here”. He came outside and we sat in the car contemplating our next move, its was about 2am. We had two choices, staying in that B&B and wait for daylight or hang around. I preferred the former but my mate went for the latter (between you and me, he’s insane). I drove up the road and saw two ladies with two guys, we pulled up and asked them where we can go for a drink. They said “theres a place up the road but its full of f**kin polish” (there words not mine), the girl then began swearing at one of the guys and tried to attack him, while the other girl was half lying on the bonnet of my car “what the hell are you doing” I said. “get off my ******* car” I had about enough of this sh*t.
One of the guys pulled her off my car and I sped off and could see them still arguing and fighting behind me. I looked at my mate and he was laughing his head off. As we neared the polish bar we saw that nutter in kabuki with the sleeveless top. As we drove past he was staring at us again “what the hell is wrong with this guy” says my mate, I said “do you wanna ask him or shall I”, neither of us wanted to ask him so we drove on. We were now outside the polish bar but I told him enough is enough I’m off to bed. We went back to the B&B and rang the bell, after about 15 mins they let us in. I was too tired to complain, I jus went to my room.
Morning came and we decided to quickly get a fry up and piss off back to London. There were not many options as almost every shop was boarded up so back to the Wetherspoons it is. We sat outside and tucked in to our food. A young man about 22 in a electric wheelchair saw us eating and took a shine to my drink. This man had a tube in his neck and didn’t speak. He gestured at my pint glass as if to say GIMME THAT. I didn’t know what to think. He then started shaking my table, he tried to grab my drink. I said “hey stop, its only apple juice” he then muttered a noise resembling “ohh”. He was no longer interested in my drink (perhaps mistaking it for beer). I again looked at my mate, this time he wasn’t laughing his head off. He looked back at me and said “lets get the **** out of here”. That was all I needed to hear. I knew it was time to leave, so on that note we left, never to return again.
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Margate has its charms, but it’s also **** central
Ramsgate – the town of no hope
If Margate is a spot on England’s ****, Westgate-on-sea is the pus
A weary resident’s guide to Planet Thanet
Tunbridge Wells: seems posh but has a seedy underbelly
Sittingbourne – a bleak wasteland between the M2 & the Isle of Sheppey
Chatham: the dog sh*t splattered patio of the Garden of England