We Chased Dominoes Through The City In The Rain

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 26 months ago

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We Chased Dominoes Through The City In The Rain
The dramatic finale structure at the Gherkin. But how did we get there?

As part of the London's Burning weekend, a massive line of dominoes was set up to trace a path through the City. Clearly it wasn't following the historical path of the Great Fire but it did take multiple paths through the area — starting at Monument and finishing at the three endings of Barbican, under the Gherkin and at St Paul's, a total path of 7km.

The dominoes in question were 25,000 breeze blocks set up to fall slowly. They would often, satisfyingly, break apart. 'Knock off' was at 6.30pm and we waited with a crowd of people in the drizzling rain, umbrellas up and ponchos on, ready to follow the path of the concrete cascade.

Given the inclement weather there was a surprising number of people at the start and waiting along the entire path.

A crowd was waiting at Monument as the final block was put into place.

A brisk walk was enough to keep up with the spectacle, and several people attempted to film the entire thing. There were plenty of bottlenecks, though, and we saw families separated, a bit of gentle pushing and shoving, and a man quite publicly berating his partner for following the dominoes and leaving her children behind.

The path entered churches and crossed busy roads, temporarily closed. Some drivers enjoyed it, others stewed in anger beeping their horns. Once released, the vehicles would speed off to the ironic cheers and applause of the domino followers.

Here they come

There were sounds of anticipation as particularly difficult obstacles were surmounted, and cheers when a falling domino managed to trigger the next wave. Volunteers were on hand in case a domino didn't fall. We saw a couple of occasions when the alignment wasn't quite right; but the volunteers were good at keeping it going.

The path split in three at Bank and we didn't manage to see where the two other paths led as we followed it through Leadenhall market, at which point we lost it due to a static crowd meeting a moving one.

Thankfully the volunteers were on hand to guide us back to overtaking it. We finally caught up just as the action reached a mountain of dominoes under the Gherkin. The last falling piece triggered a fire which burned for a few minutes before causing the end structure to collapse to loud cheers.

Chasing and cheering a bunch of falling concrete blocks in the drizzle on an overcast London day, to commemorate a fire that happened 350 years ago. It's about as British as activities come.

The aftermath as the City falls silent once the dominoes have passed.

The dominoes were put on by Station House Opera who have done something similar in Marseilles, with a great video of that event.

Last Updated 04 September 2016