Dash the Henge


Don’t mistake the logo for a space invader, there’s no French street artists round these ends. As for the name? Break the pattern? Open up the circle? I’m not sure why Nathan Saoudi called his record label Dash the Henge, but I’m glad he’s opened up a store in Camberwell. A 5 minute stroll from my front door, it’s now the closest record store to my flat, and a mere 5 hours closer than Stone Henge (other henges are available).

At a tender age of 4 months or so, Dash the Henge is very much the new kid on the block. The label itself was started by Nathan some time after his last band’s personally relatable hit ‘The Whitest Boy on the Beach’ accompanied Danny Boyle’s T2 Trainspotting credits, but before the release of his debut EP under his newest moniker Brian Destiny. The store, however, has only recently filled the gap left in South London’s music scene by the outgoing Rat Records, formerly situated across the road from The Old Dispensary at no. 348 Camberwell New Road.

With a raised platform satisfyingly slotted into the far corner of the store like the placement of that winning trivial pursuit wedge, this record store is not your average digger’s den. Pop by early Saturday afternoon and you’ll find a gig popping off in this intimate establishment with what I could only imagine would attract an even more intimate crowd. Dash the Henge’s main aim is to promote the constrained and the unrestrained. Free from genre bias, Nathan and the team look to use the space as a social hub, and in doing so, give lesser known artists a platform to be heard from. In a world where the almighty algorithm dictates what we listen to, it’s never been more important to give the small fish an opportunity to swim. Improv music, spoken word, or politically fuelled lecture, Dash the Henge acts as a space to host real independent talent.

During the day, the cheese wedge of a stage houses books written by Shaun Ryder and satirical stickers designed by the activist Darren Cullen, known more widely as Spelling Mistakes Cost Lives. These can be picked up and admired - and, if you’re feeling frivolous, purchased for the mere price of a pint or two across the road. Yet while still in the foreground, two wall-length racks of vinyls sit under a collage of momentous LPs, waiting to catch them should they fall from their wall mounted brackets into the open-mouthed crates below.  One of these racks is filled with new and notable records and the rules here are simple: half the rack is split by genre, t’other is a genre free-for-all labelled A-Z. Having banked my long-awaited January payslip last week, I popped in and immediately dived into the Worldwide section, swimming around for some much needed plastic to my slow-growing collection. Résistance by the Malian desert blues group Songhoy Blues had me tempted - if you haven’t heard of them, three of the four members are Tourés and not one relation between them.

A store that’s willing to bring in Saharan Rock just goes to show the care and thought that’s being put into bringing different and diverse music through the door - but I headed back over my shoulder to see if the second rack had any second-hand bargains with my name on them.

The shop’s collection is split roughly 50/50 new to second-hand, and the same rule mentioned above applies to both racks. I flipped through the hip hop section, past the out-of-my-budget mint condition looking The Eminem Show and found exactly what I didn’t know I had been looking for. A song first brought to my ears while laying in the middle of an Italian villa’s grounds with Charles three and a half years ago (which you can read about here!), I could spot the album cover from the pub through the shop window. Farai’s 2018 debut and (sadly) only album to date, Rebirth was sat there with a £10 sticker on it. Lyric sleeve still intact, yellow vinyl scratch-less. Fair to say that record went straight in my basket.

When a record store sadly reaches its sell-by date, you can’t help but expect another Costa to move in. Thankfully for me and the whole of Camberwell, we’ve got a new record store instead. I’ll be back for a gig in no time, and for countless browses thereon.