Beyond the squalid joints of Soho and the kitschy chaos of Camden lie a few nightspots that are custom-made for a truly memorable night out in the Big Smoke.
Not only are these hidden gems a little off the beaten track, they are all located within an easy tube or bus ride from one another, making it more than feasible to visit them all in one evening – I’d suggest starting at K Town and working your way North…
Despite its name, this brewery and bar is actually based in Kentish Town, Camden’s slightly more attractive little sister. If you go out in Camden or the West End, you’ll see Camden Town brews such as Hell’s Lager or Pale Ale available on draft, but it’s here at the Kentish Town HQ where the magic happens.
If you’re approaching the brewery on foot, it’s a case of blink and you’ll miss it, as it’s neatly tucked away under the railway arches: I had been going out in and around Kentish Town for almost a decade before I discovered it, and now it’s one of my favourite fair weather spots in which to drink and shoot the breeze.
On a typical spring (fall) or summer’s evening you’re likely to see an eclectic mix of city bankers de-stressing after a mental week in the stock market, local musicians jamming amongst themselves and native Londoner’s slugging their favourite brews.
The seating is sparse, so if you aren’t able to grab one of the few benches or beer barrels, you’ll just have to find the nearest ledge or wall, but I feel that it’s all part of the magic really. There’s always a good selection of tunes playing over the PA system and the various food stalls really make for a festival atmosphere, which encourages people to step outside their shells, break down their barriers and talk to one another (I’ve had many an interesting conversation with complete strangers at the Camden Town Brewery).
Head inside to the minimal bar area and grab yourself a four pint pitcher of the many Camden Brewery beers available – if you like a stout, may I suggest the Camden Ink?
After a couple of pitchers and a lovely bit of street food, you’ll certainly be in the mood to continue the party well into the night. Next Stop…
Located in Tufnell Park, Aces and Eights is a short 134 bus ride (or 20 minute walk) from Camden Town Brewery and the perfect place to take things up a notch.
This dimly lit rock bar is clad with intimate booths, psychedelic pictures of all those belonging to the infamous 27 Club, and if classic concert footage isn’t being beamed from the big screen, a whisky swilling DJ is sure to be spinning classic tunes from the 1950’s right through to the present day.
There’s a large selection of whiskies, bourbons and craft beers on offer, and if your belly is still rumbling, Aces and Eights boasts an eclectic menu of wood fired pizzas to share.
Although there isn’t much of a dance floor, moving and shaking is encouraged and the vibe is always geared towards soaking up some rock and roll and letting your hair down – and on a weekend, there’s often a local band belting out originals in the basement for a small entry fee.
Once you’ve soaked up the atmosphere and a few more beverages, it’s time to move onto the third and final place of the night…
This little gem can be seen peeping from the corner of Archway Road and it has made a pretty impressive name for itself over the years, which means you might see a celebrity of two in there on a Friday or Saturday night.
From Aces and Eights, it’s simple: jump on the Tufnell Park tube (it’s two stops away), or hop back on the magic 134 bus Northbound until you get to Highgate.
The Boogaloo seems small at first, but it more than makes up for its cosy appearance with pure atmosphere; the kind of sweaty, euphoric atmosphere that you’d expect to see at a 1960’s Mod Club or Northern Soul Night.
It does get packed, but if you get there before 11pm, you can retire out the back for a little fresh air in one of The Boogaloo’s themed Courtyard Lounges including Alabama’s – an ode to cult flick, True Romance.
In essence, this place is unique and if you’re in the mood for cutting some serious shapes, whether you’re into Pop, Soul, Rock, Blues, Ska, Roots or Reggae, you’ll find it hard not to get up and dance the night away. Although the music is eclectic, it does lend itself to 60’s, 70’s and 80’s – but the DJ’s here do have a knack of playing popular songs while maintaining some sort of musical integrity
Ever since I moved to North London, I have frequented The Boogaloo, and I’ve forged some of my best ever friendships within its four walls. What can I say about The Boogaloo? In a nutshell, it’s unique – and even though I’ve spent many a night propping up the bar, every time I go there the experience seems somewhat different. In my opinion, it’s the best place to conclude a night out in North London, hands down.
So, if you’re looking for an alternative to Sports Bars or the usual watering holes of the West End, why not venture North? Try this little Labrador current of North London night spots, and you’re sure to have a bloody brilliant time!
About the author:
A LONDON BASED WRITER AND KEEN TRAVELLER.