Studying a side, another of Londons wonderful qualities is its nightlife. No one should ever be bored in london, ever. However as a new student in London it can all be quite daunting and you may find yourself get in the habit of hitting the SU Bar and the walkabout and keeping in your comfort zones which is OK I suppose but you’d be missing out on a hell of a lot of fun and that would be a big shame.
I have constructed an area by area guide to the bars you must go for a drink in and the clubs you have to go and shake your ass in. Deep Breath…
I’ll start off with the legendary Camden Town. Camden is associated usually with Goths, Punks and Emo’s, but there is loads more going on. Camden is packed full of gig venues; The Dublin Castle, Barfly, Dingwalls, Proud Gallery, Koko, The Lock Tavern, The Round House, The Monarch, The Underworld – the list can go on and on. Every year the Camden Crawl makes great use of the long list of venues with a two day festival hosting gigs all over the area showcasing the best in new music. Acts this year featured Crystal Castles, Sam Sparro, Noah and the Whale and loads more.
I’ll pick out a couple of Camden’s best bits for you. My favourite place for a drink with my mates is probably The Lock Tavern; there is a roof terrace and a beer garden and really good food. In the summer they have a barbeque too. The music is always really cool with surprise DJ’s and residents. Just up the road from there is the Barfly, the local rock and roll sweat box. Generally the gigs there are the best of Camden’s new music scene, it’s usually rammed full on Friday and Saturday nights, drinks aren’t too expensive they have cheap shots and on their club night Casino Royale you can play roulette and win drinks.
Proud Galleries recently relaunched in a new venue about 100 times the size than the old one. Maybe that is slightly inaccurate but it is seriously huge. Situated in stables market, there are two massive rooms and then loads of seated areas in the old stables. Expensive drinks but great nights. The launch kicked off with The Enemy playing a gig and things have just been getting better and better since then.
Koko is home to club NME and Xfm do their awards show there. It’s really stunning inside and if you’re an indie scenester then it’s the place to be on a Friday night. There is usually discount for students on entry as well.
Shoreditch has become the trendiest place to go out. The area is flooded with artists, musicians, poets, photographers and fashionista’s. The vibe is very chilled and bohemian through the day times and then at night the pubs and clubs come alive. Hoxton Bar and Kitchen is home to Sunday nights BoomBox, the club that started a fashion revolution. It became the place to be with the likes of Naomi Campbell, Lindsay Lohan and Kelly Osborne swinging by to party and a tribe of regulars who dress not to impress but to gob smack. It sounds like it would be full of egos and posers but it is so open and welcoming and has free entry, everyone is there for a great time. The after party is held at Bar Aquarium, Wet Yourself. It’s basically a club playing good electro with a pool and Jacuzzi, soooo much fun I can’t even get started. Don’t forget your Speedo’s!
Also in Shoreditch its worth checking out Brick Lane. There are some great bars around like 93 feet east and cafe 1001, hosting all kinds of gigs, short film nights and DJ sets. Great food is available too.
The Old Blue Last on Commercial Street is a cool venue. It’s owned by Vice magazine and there are usually gigs upstairs most nights. Check out club night BOSH! one Friday each month. It’s free to get in and always has an awesome line up and great DJs.
Goldsmiths students have a pretty good selection of places to go down in New Cross. London’s most stylish students hit the Amersham Arms for gigs and club nights. Check out SKIPtheatre, it’s a night of live music and theatrical performances from girls who love to skip, sounds quite bizarre but it’s very cool. There are good gigs at the New Cross Inn and the Goldsmiths Student Union host some great nights too with very cheap drinks on offer.
Hanging out in central London can be a bit hit and miss. You may find yourself in a heavily over priced pub or cocktail bar and the atmosphere lacks a sense of community due to the amount of tourists. However there are some really great places to go. For the student with a tight budget I would recommend going to one of the many Sam Smith’s pubs dotted around Soho. My favourite is the recently refurbished Princess Louise on High Holborn. It is truly beautiful inside and a standard pint is two pounds! If it’s too busy in there then move on to The Crown on New Oxford Street and take your beer outside where there are loads of people gathering around drinking and chatting.
For clubbing in central London, the most popular places for students are Madame JoJo’s, The Roxy, Punk and Metro. They’re all gig venues that have club nights too, usually pretty rock and roll but there can be lots of different stuff going on too. The End is a great club in the west end. Home to Durrrr the successor of the iconic Trash club night where the theme is to be as eccentric as you can and have an amazing time. Other nights are good too, there’s a lot of variety; dub, techno, electro, drum and bass etc. And on the weekends it is open until 6.
There are also loads of club nights put on for students with very cheap drinks. There is Vodka Island at Tiger Tiger every Monday; Lost in London at The Zoo Bar every Tuesday; Game On every Wednesday at Zoo Bar and Mystik Disco at On Anon every Thursday. They are all very popular with students probably due to the low prices for drinks and the vast genre span of the music. It’s also a good place to go to meet other students when you are settling into London life.
West London has a great scene too. It is more likely to drain your bank account but there are ways to make the most of Notting Hill on a budget. Notting Hill Arts Club is home to Alan McGee’s Death Disco, the legendary punk, rock, electro club every Wednesday. The drinks are reasonably priced and it’s free to get in before 8 so definitely worth going down for. There are lots of nice pubs and bars in the area too, check out Neighbourhood at 12 Acklam Road for a mix of funk, soul, jazz, afro-latin and more.