Fashion blogger Aych McArdle tells Trish Plunket why she lives, works and plays in, and most definitely loves, her Karangahape Rd neighbourhood.
I live in Upper Queen Street, and I study, work and play in the area.
I moved here from the Wellington suburbs, and it’s just great. I love living here, there’s so much about the area that’s really different – different people who have different experiences. You can’t really say that about the Wellington suburbs.
I think there’s an energy about K Rd that is just fantastic. It’s a kind of transitory space – a liminal space – you have people going to and from work, people coming in from the outer suburbs, students, locals, tourists, everything. It’s always changing, which provides this really different energy. I just feed off it, it’s such a great place to people-watch.
There are so many places to get good food and good coffee. My favourite is Alleluya cafe – it feels just like a living room. I can go in there and there’s always someone around to hang out with.
I’m really feeling Taco Tuesdays at Mexicali Fresh at the moment, where you get all the tacos you can eat for not very much.
Verona cafe does some really lovely desserts to end an evening with, and I have a real weakness for their Baileys hot chocolate.
Strange and cool things happen on K Rd. I was sitting outside Revel with friends when an alt-punk-rock band serenaded us on the pavement, amps and everything. It was awesome, though it didn’t really suit their style of music.
During the day there’s plenty to do. I really enjoy going op-shopping, and sitting in Myers Park with an ice block on a sunny day is a pretty rad situation.
It’s great that it’s so central, people can come along from wherever, and you can just wander around.
There is a real sense of community about K Rd. I never feel unsafe there, and the kind of people who hang out there are the kind of people who would help you if you were in trouble.
It’s a lot more of a community than the central city. I fell over on Queen St a little while ago, hurting myself quite badly, and no one stopped to see if I was all right. That wouldn’t happen on K Rd. Even at night there are the queens and divas who have your back.
I was walking home about a month ago and I was feeling really down and depressed; and just out of nowhere one of the drag queens, Miss Ribena, just asked me whether I was okay and if I needed anything. It was a little bit surreal, but that pretty much sums up the way the K Rd community is.
One thing I really love about K Rd is First Thursdays. On the first Thursday of every month the shops and cafes display art in the windows, people set up sculptures and performances in the public spaces, it’s really amazing.
There are different themes for each month, and there is a night market. It has a really international flavour from all the people who come to K Rd from different places around the world.
You just get so many people descending on K Rd, and you can definitely see the excitement in people’s eyes. It’s not something they’re used to seeing.
It’s a really great place to be an artist, and to even just be interested in fashion.
I run a fashion blog and I’m always inspired by what I see around the area, from the vintage clothes in op-shops, glittery drag queens in the Family Bar, to dapper businessmen heading off to the CBD.
I like to think of the quintessential K Rd style as “Urban Chaos with a dash of Glitter”.
Actually, there’s usually a bit more than a dash of glitter around the place. More like heaps of glitter. Bucketloads of glitter.
Aych’s top picks
* Mexicali Fresh: 150 K Rd, Suite 102. 09 374 5938.
* Alleluya Cafe: Shop 20 St Kevin’s Arcade 179/183 K Rd. 09 377 8424
* First Thursdays On the first Thursday, four months a year, K Rd comes alive with visual artists, performance artists, photographers, musicians and DJs.
By Trish Plunket