According to Vogue, The Evening Standard and The Guardian, it appears Dalston is now the coolest place in Britain. I would add: ‘around Kingsland road on Saturday nights’, because most of the time it’s a lot of things – hectic, crowded and lively – but not particularly cool.
Anyway it was time to find out what all the fuss was about, so on Saturday night I headed out with some mates to visit these nightspots and see if they live up to the hype.
We didn’t actually get very far. What with applying ‘smoky eye’ makeup and knocking back apple vodka, it was almost eleven by the time we got out the door – handbags clutched, eyes smoked, and ten slippered feet marching determinedly towards Dalston Junction.
First stop was the Dalston Superstore. Heaving. And a substantial queue, with bouncers shining torches into handbags and frisking the blokes. There was a hell of a lot of rubber-necking and celebrity spotting going on (and not just inside – even people on the bus outside were at it). There was one wigged girl in a gold coat who may have possibly been someone famous, but it was hard to tell in the darkness.
After a while it was decided that the place was actually too cool for requirements. As in, it may be packed to the rafters with stunning men, but you’d be hard pressed to find a straight one among the lot of them. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but… you know…
So we dusted ourselves off and marched onwards to Barden’s Boudoir. But this was rejected outright due to the sheer heat and aroma emanating from the stairwell. A fire hazard, we tutted. Possibly better during the week, though.
Next stop, a little further up, was a narrow hallway between two shops spilling people and smoke. It could have been a private party, and looked rather exciting, but it was also rejected as another suspected straight-man-free zone.
Time to stop off at a pub for a toilet break and a quick round of shots. But my, did it pong! The smoking ban is of course a good thing, but no wonder pubs are closing down at a record rate of fifty a week. It can’t be healthy to breathe in the ripe aromas of sweat, beer breath, gas and kebab burps in such concentrated doses. It was medieval, I tell you.
At this point we also noted a man bellowing on the street with his pants down – so it appears the Stag Nights have arrived (I just love this picture. I can’t help thinking the man in the middle would have happily stayed home).
After that it was even further up Kingsland Road towards Kimo’s. This place was dimly lit and not too busy, and thankfully odourless, but the music just wasn’t getting the crowd moving, so we jumped in a cab down Kingsland Road to the Visions Video Bar, a former video shop turned nightclub. Messy. Lots of barely legal kids jostling on the footpath, a couple of serious bouncers and yet another long, dimly lit hallway leading down into a basement club. This place gets a great write-up here though, and I think it sounds like it could be goer on other nights… But it was getting late and one of our party, who lives in South London, decided to pull out, and two more followed. Just as we’d got on the night bus home the other two phoned up with a suggestion to go to The Jazz Café but bed was beckoning.
So yes. There’s plenty happening, and I suspect that the tube will cement its position as the new Shoreditch, until the new Dalston comes along, anyway. But the following day the Vogue journalists were nowhere to be seen, neither were the clubbers. There was just the usual crowd of shoppers and kids and beautifully dressed church-goers. And all the clubs had receded back into mere doors between the everyday shoe shops and bakeries and nail bars.
Still, it was a fun night. And I’m also pleased about the possibility of a burgeoning live poetry scene around here, and next Monday (June 29) will be heading along to the Lemon Monkey café at 188 Stoke Newington High Street London, N16, at 7pm for readings by local poets including Ms Baroque