Condensing the whole of the UK’s capital into a small number of different attractions requires more than a few powers in reduction. London’s reputation as a centre for international culture is well-known and fully justified, but beyond its incredibly established institutions lies a huge number of places servicing counter-culture to satisfy the capital’s diverse and hungry population. Here’s our rundown of London’s most vital hubs.
Hackney’s Oslo is the latest London spot to combine that rather useful amalgamation of doing a whole load of things really, really well. Run by gig promotions company DHP, their know-how of how get bands and bodies into any said venue is second to none and it’s been taken to its full potential with Oslo’s booking policy. On-trend acts, a specially installed sound system and club nights on weekends that frequently see queues round the block with East London’s bright young things clamouring for entry means you’ll find a buzzing crowd here any night of the week. The venue is split into two floors with the gig venue upstairs and a restaurant and bar area downstairs serving a varied menu to satisfy the diverse tastes of its audience. The top shelf is positively brimming and the decor is tall and spacious. It’s right by Hackney Central too, so stumbling home is a breeze.
Opening Ceremony London is the London branch of a fashion store that has steadily been expanding internationally year on year. Taking the cream of a variety of blossoming brands and putting them all in one place alongside a sturdy in-house clothing line has seen Opening Ceremony become a strong player in the mid-high end fashion lines that are still reasonably affordable. Having started as one downtown store in LA, they now have a number of stores across the world including a department store in Tokyo. Set in the bustling high of Convent Garden, it couldn’t be better placed for the discerning fashionista to take in its wide range - suitable for every gender. If you’re after high fashion at a price that won’t break the bank then Opening Ceremony is the place for you.
The Barbican Centre in London specialises in all forms of artistic practice and its central location and vast programme makes seeing something of interest there an easy proposition. In any given season classical music rubs up against grime which rubs up against experimental electronic music. The complex itself is one of the most impressive examples of functional design in the world with three restaurants, seven conference halls and three cinema screens. The Barbican also has a theatre and a 2,000 person hall that is home to the London Symphony Orchestra and the BBC Symphony Orchestra as well as the Royal Shakespeare Company. Known for it’s distinctive brutalist architecture, finding something of artistic interested inside this iconic concrete space shouldn’t be too tough.
Rough Trade East
A record label first, but to many vinyl lovers and collectors, Rough Trade East is an emporium of records old and new the likes of which is are in all-too-short supply these days. Set on the iconic Brick Lane, the store is a spacious amalgamation of everything that should make the process of shopping, let alone buying records, fun. Listening points, in-store gigs, knowledgeable staff, a wealth of free music papers, zines and a cafe all make a foray into Rough Trade East an enjoyable experience. The in-stores are a massive early evening and weekend draw and allow you to soak up the vibe (and the curry) on Brick Lane. Musically there’s records in here to satisfy anyone’s palette, from the latest releases to classics, to the outright bizarre, meaning that listening to music in Rough Trade East or eating in Rough Trade East or reading in Rough Trade East could take up the majority of your day.
London’s rough and ready need a place to party and they don’t come any readier than Dalston’s Shacklewell Arms. If you’re entering the pub for the first time you could be mistaken for thinking this haunt could be an old-man boozer still surviving in East London’s trendiest of neighbourhoods. The truth is it probably used to be, but filled with an up-for-it, boozy, rock music loving crowd and some of the best beers available on tap you have one of the best pub-come-venues London has to offer. The back room of the Shack has had every sweaty, punk band you can think of and many you couldn’t name pass through its doors in recent times and it’s the musical policy that keeps the clientele coming back again and again. The beer is also top-notch with huge variation and it’s just a stones throw from the wealth of incredible eateries on Kingsland Rd.