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LONDON SCENE: Quirky Camden Town a show after dark

Editor’s Note: In addition to covering athletes and events at the Summer Olympics, Cronkite News Service reporters are offering occasional observations about their experiences.

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LONDON – Welcomed to Camden Town by an alternative shop adorned with a silver spaceship sculpture protruding out of the building and a red alien face on the sign, it was clear to me that this neighborhood does not fit in with the usual English Victorian style.

As locals and tourists wander, it is easy to spot who belongs here – characters known as “scene kids” in the United States. Wearing gaudy outfits, girls sporting bright pink, purple, red and even polka-dotted hair walk around with tattoos and piercings.

You spot boys just as outrageously accessorized with gauge earrings – you know, the rings that stretch the ear lobe – letter jackets, skinny jeans and big-framed glasses.

The people, the vendors with merchandise spilling out of their shops, the tattoo parlors, the pubs, the colorful buildings and the restaurants that line the streets give Camden Town a quirky vibe.

Even Camden Lock Village Market, featuring Brazilian, Japanese, Mexican, English and Indian foods among other offerings, fits the atmosphere of the neighborhood because the seats facing a canal are made of faded and cracked scooter seats.

As the market begins to close at 9 and perishables become cheaper, Camden Town transitions from a hangout for younger adults to a music scene. After all, this is the town where Amy Winehouse became famous.

By 10 p.m., all the shops are closed and the young crowd can be seen chatting on the streets or lining up for music venues such as Barfly and Proud Camden. Promoters crowd the streets handing out fliers to influence the masses to come to their venues.

The pubs are packed with adults who were nowhere to be seen in the neighborhood earlier in the night.

Day or night, Camden Town is entertaining. For me, it offered hours of people-watching and exploring.