Royal Dalston Hotel


Written by Charles Alderwick
Photos and illustrations by Lorenzo Rossi
20 Wednesday 20th October 2010

The Royal Dalston Hotel – neither an actual hotel, nor especially royal – was a four-day gathering of performance art, interactive experiences, with added opportunities for clubbing and misbehaviour in the basement. We went along on the penultimate night to get the goss. Hosted in a Dalston town house, the surroundings were eminently suitable. Bohemian and rag-tag; the Royal Dalston Hotel is strewn with exotic drapings, spooky artefacts, dusty taxidermy and clapped-out musical instruments with wafts of booze, perfume and oldness in the air.
The hotel reception is [wo]manned by Ma Butcher, “Don’t get the phone, it’ll only be someone trying to book in... Yes, our customer services do leave a lot to be desired.” Her tottering, quipping and aggressive selling style are more than enough to keep the guests occupied until they are lead upstairs in the dark to see the show.
We caught up with Lyall Hakaraia, Lady Mayoress of Dalston, to meet the brains and the botox behind the big picture...
What is the correct term of address for a Lady Mayoress?
Mayoress! Just ‘Mayoress’.
Tell us about yourself.
Well I’m the person who’s running an underground club specifically set up for transvestites and transsexuals called Vogue Fabrics. It was illegal for a couple of years and now it is legal. But still we have the same door policy: trannies and freaks only.
Can you explain the artistic obsession with trannies?
That’s because trannies are against the norm. They represent something that people want to be or people hope to be at some point in their lives. Trannies represent all sorts of things.
At this point, the Mayoress’s charming 9-year old daughter Tui chips in
Tui: Sometimes they represent wigs.
LH: Sometimes they do just represent a wig, it’s very true. Trannies are all about helping people through difficult times.
How did the idea for these for nights come about?
Well we wanted to do it in conjunction with the Frieze Art Fair. So it’s an artistic outburst from the East End. And the hotel idea was just because I have the space, and you have to use what you’ve got. If you don’t, somebody else will. 
I think the only other Art Hotels are ones where you pay and stop – I think this might be the first Art Hotel that’s more Art than Hotel.
How fabulous.
How do you feel about opening the hotel for overnight staying?
We were going to do that but then I realised that all my friends are really quite messy. We’re open to 5 or 6 so in a way they stay anyway.
You also make clothes – why the move into this?
Well it’s all the same thing; creativity is creativity. So it doesn’t matter whether it’s running clubs, making clothes, writing a book...doing a small television drama.
Are you thinking about doing a small television drama?
Absolutely. With this lot, darling. They’re a small television drama all on their own. Seeing is believing!
The interactivity makes me slightly nervous.
But the whole thing is so intimate, and so immediate, that if you sit down right in front of the performer you have to lose those barriers because it’s happening in front of you. It’s not even like, two or three meters away – they are here with you. So you have to interact.
So is the intimacy of it supposed to be quite challenging?
Well it’s not challenging, because you are there with your friends. So it’s not challenging, it’s natural – they become part of it. They want it to happen, because otherwise why would they be here? Scottee only performed to four people at a time. It’s all about revealing secrets. You know; [gesturing to the writing scrawled on the wall] “I shat in the bath and then blamed my sister”, “When I was young I used to pretend I was a medium.” It’s just intimate stuff that people want to share. It’s stuff that needs to be shared so people know they’re not alone.
Who would you most like to dress?
I’ve dressed lots of fabulous people. I like to have great collaborations with anybody who’s lively and has an amazing personal view, someone that inspires you to do new things. At the moment I am working with Paloma Faith with all her stage costumes and we have a really great dialogue which is she says ‘no’, and I go back to the drawing board and make it again!
And who would you most like to arrive as a surprise this evening?
Princess Margaret because she’s dead. I’d be really surprised.
Is Princess Margaret dead?
She’s dead, darling. She died a sad, lonely alcoholic. Much like myself.

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  • Guest: darrylvanhorne
    Thu 21 - Oct - 2010, 17:08
    This night was hopeless poorly thought out crap. It was embarrassingly bad, a lot like a lot of the Dalston gay scene