Some might say the ubiquitous urban food hall trend responds to the millennial quest for authenticity. We beg to differ: millennial loneliness might be playing a part there, as well.
When the new Night Tales compound opened under the railway arches of Hackney Central, we realized there was something familiarly millennial about it, far beyond the use of that shade of pink: with the integration of a food court with grilled snacks aplenty, several alcohol setups and a concert venue under one roof, it’s a veritable barhopping killer. No need to go elsewhere for a pre-show meal or a post-show drink, as every corner inside has got you covered.
But in this way, it is also a place where a young member of the London nightlife one can find a ready-made community. For the loneliest generations in history, that seems to be a large part of the appeal. In the UK, which recently appointed a Minister of Loneliness, there are talks of an epidemic. In the US, millennials admit to feeling notably isolated, with a loneliness score of 45.3, but 18-to-22 year-olds just asked them to hold their craft beer: at 48.3, Gen Z students have higher loneliness scores than retirees 72 and older – their scores, in turn, are about 10 points lower. Or to put it another way: 18 to 24-year-olds feel three time as lonely as people over 64.
The instant community ignited by these spaces is a group-therapy session by way of hospitality
But as loneliness has been found to have an impact on mortality comparable to smoking 15 cigarettes a day and conversations about mental health conversation have rightfully abandoned the hushed tones of yore to reach the forefront, many public organisations are trying to find the first round of solutions. Take it from a recent report from the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness: the best cure for this social ailment is creating communities that foster connections and help people build relationships, while also ensuring these communities have spaces in why they can come together.