I interviewed James Stewart Grant at his house in Stoke Newington in July 2017. James has one of those wonderful homes that you sometimes stumble across working on projects like this – full of original artworks, and lined with books. Over the course of the morning we spoke about his arrival in London from Edinburgh, to study Arts Administration, and his subsequent struggle with loneliness – a struggle familiar to many people who have moved to the capital from smaller cities and towns. James told me about discovering London Friend – a charity founded in King’s Cross, in 1972, to support the health and mental well-being of the LGBT community in London – where he discovered a space to discuss, in “outrageously queenly ways, but also quite solid intellectual ways”, everything from the role of camp, to homophobia among homosexuals. London Friend provided James with some respite from loneliness, and – eventually – an unexpected influx of sexual attention.
We also discussed James’ 10 year history learning ballet. James started ballet at 61, when he joined an old person’s’ ballet class at Sadler’s Wells. He then danced in an old person’s ballet company, before deciding to try to fit in at a “grown-up ballet” class – a class for all ages. He joined a class at The Place, which he found – in turns – deeply rewarding, and hugely frustrating. He continues to dance, and talks here about ‘The Meltdown’, a production he danced in as part of Dance Umbrella’s Square Dances, under choreographer Rosemary Lee.