So anyone whose seen Nathan barley will know Hoxton and Shoreditch have kind of been a victim of their own success with the amount of TWB’s (twatty wine bars) and media types populating the area, meaning some places are way too expensive and self conscious to equal FUN. However, as this area is packed to bursting with pubs and bars the law of averages dictates that there are also some great ones to be found as well, and all within staggering distance, which you’ll soon find, in London Town is a bit of a luxury.
Vibe Bar and 93 Feet East on Brick Lane are best frequented during the week when a, they are free to get into and they aren’t packed. 93 Feet East is good for bands too. Spitz (Spitalfields) is becoming quite the location for trendy word of mouth bands so keep an eye out there too.
In the Shoreditch/Hoxton area, The Old Blue Last (otherwise known as Vice Bar) on the corner of Curtain Road and Great Eastern Street holds loads of free nights during the weekend and midweek with well-known bands and DJs and the atmosphere is always ‘up for it’.
Towards Old Street there’s the Griffin (Tabernacle Street – the side street as Great Eastern Street and Old Street meet) the décor gives it an ‘old man pub’ vibe but with cool music and friendly people.
If you are up for a boogie, 333 is a bit of an institution. It’s a large venue you can’t miss on 333 Old Street in the middle of everything and just before Hoxton Square. Holding lots of indie / electro mash up nights that feature bands, which everyone seems to be doing these days. Queens of Noize and Young Turks regularly hold nights there. Expect a queue and to pay a tenner at the door though. A dirty little secret we’ve heard is that Tesco is taking over – so make the most of it while you can.
If you’re into your drum and bass - shame on you! But you are in luck as one of the genre’s best clubs Herbal is situated around these parts on the junction where Shoreditch High Street meets City Road. A couple of bars along resides our favourite bar of all – Catch (22 Kingsland Road). It’s a well known secret due to its winning formula of cheapish booze, free entry, unbeatable atmosphere, and 2am opening. The revolving all inclusive DJ policy means on a weekend you can find indie, electro, northern soul, metal or even a mixture of all of them (though not at once). The place gets packed after twelve, when you’ll have to queue to get in, but the bouncers are the friendliest in London town. This is where Bloc Party and Art Brut’s war of words resulted in an almost punch-up.
Tea Bar on Shoreditch High Street (where it meets Liverpool Street) is un-missable as it’s so darn big. It’s free to get in and has breaks and electro legends as residents some nights so can get very busy, but then again if you were after a quiet night, what are you doing out in these parts? On a Sunday night it’s the one place people head to forget they have work in the morning (not that you guys have to worry about that).
Hoxton Square on weekends. Full of hens and stags, Ben Sherman shirts and highlights; and way too packed. Not a nice sight.
The top record shops (in our humble opinion) are located off Brick Lane. City 16 (1 Cheshire St) sell t shirts of cult bands and obscure acts. They have room at the back with loads of decks to listen to your music of choice and sell lots of new stuff – they have a 90s section where you can purchase your favourite indie 12”. Beats Workin Records (93-95 Sclater Street, Brick Lane) – our music obsessive DJ friend refers to this as ‘fucking cool’ which gives it the highest seal of approval of all. It has a large selection of second hand specialist vinyl lovingly preserved and organised. City Sounds (5 Kirby Street) provides more of an old fashioned routing around backdrop, you will need to dig through stuff to find what you want (or didn’t realised you needed but now you’ve found, can’t live without) but there’s always the hope of finding that David Byrne & Brian Eno ‘My Life In the Bush of Ghosts’ original. Sexy. Also check out the freshly opened Rough Trade East - East London's newest and most expansive record shop.
Clothes wise, for anyone whose idea of shopping is Oxfam over Oxford Street, this is the area for you. There’s the superb Spitalfields Market which gets insanely busy on Sundays – but has fairly cheap new designers, artists and second hand stalls (a lot cheaper than Portobello market). Spitalfields’ success has resulted in an extension of the market across the road (in the car park off Fournier Street - the street where Spitalfields meets Brick Lane) it isn’t as busy and the clothes are cheaper too.
There are loads of vintage / second hand shops around these parts. Absolute Vintage has the best shoe collection (Fournier Street), then there’s Rokit on Brick Lane (which is a bit pricier). The best value for money can be found down Cheshire Street (off Brick Lane) where Sam Greenberg and the massive warehouse that is Beyond Retro are located. On the way you’ll pass jumble sales worth a second look - you can pick up stuff for 20p – bargain!