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8 old-school London events that are still going strong


Time Out is 50, and to celebrate we’re taking a look back at the classic London club nights, quizzes and alt-cabarets that have stood the test of time  

Alternative Miss World in Time Out, 1988

Alternative Miss World, started 1972

The psychosexual cabaret dreamscape that is Alternative Miss World has been going strong for 46 years, and it’s still the best damn alternative beauty pageant in London. Paradoxically: there’s no contest. ‘[It began] in 1972 as the theme for one of my many parties,’ says its founder, the artist Andrew Logan. ‘It was modelled on the concept of Crufts Dog Show with three categories of daywear, swimwear and eveningwear – a surreal art event for all-round family entertainment’. Since then, contestants like Derek Jarman and Leigh Bowery have taken part. This year’s event in The Globe Theatre is long sold out, but you might get lucky on the door. There’s life in this fabulous old dog yet. Shakespeare’s Globe. Tube: Blackfriars. Oct 20. £25-£50, very limited availability on the door

Duckie in Time Out, 1996

Duckie, started 1995

Taking over the Royal Vauxhall Tavern every Saturday night since 1995, Duckie is an irreverent London institution that began as a radical response to the ‘muscle mary’ and handbag -house-dominated mainstream LGBT+ scene. ‘We wanted all genders mixing, rock ’n’ roll and experimental performance, and culture, arts and politics discussed in clubs,’ says promoter Simon Casson. Twenty-three years later, Duckie continues to blend eclectic music – everything from Britpop to Britney – with inventive, anything-goes performances to make a weekly club night that’s unique, inclusive and super-fun. Royal Vauxhall Tavern. Tube: Vauxhall. Every Sat. £6.

Roxy Rahmanzadeh

Who Killed Bambi? Music Pub Quiz, started 1993 (ish)

The Who Killed Bambi? quiz was first started at the (now closed) Filthy McNastys pub in Clerkenwell by Terry Staunton, the then News Editor at NME (RIP), and moved on to Highgate’s Boogaloo boozer around 2002. ‘We’ve had many luminaries doing the quiz over the years. Shane MacGowan obviously because he lived here, Carl Barât, Johnny Borrell, Phil Daniels and loads more. On more than one occasion the answer to one of the questions was doing the actual quiz!’ says owner Gerry O’Boyle. The current master of Bambi ceremonies is Maddy Paterson, and thanks to the Boogaloo Radio station, you can even play from home. You won’t find a box of Celebrations on the prize list here, oh no. At Who Killed Bambi?, the league winners get a free trip to a European city, ‘bit exotic but they deserve it as they are very intelligent pop quizzers,’ says Gerry. The Boogaloo. Tube: Highgate. Every Wed, 8pm. Email to book:

Torture Garden, 1990s, © Alamy

Torture Garden, started 1990

Back in the days of 1990, when Game Boys were in and eyebrows were thin, the underground fetish scene was a-brewing in London. And so came Torture Garden, a fetish club night that’s grown into a latex behemoth of drag, extreme fashion shows and a BDSM play space. TG’s Valentine’s and Halloween balls are world-famous (and every bit as intense as they sound). You might find meat hanging from the ceiling or a gimp parade in the hallway – anything goes. Actually, not anything – there’s a lot of rules. Respect and consent is key, no photography is permitted and there’s a strict dress code. You don’t have to be a hardcore fet-lover to go, but if your outfit wouldn’t cause jaws to drop in the street, it’s not for TG. Studio 338. Tube: North Greenwich. Nov 2. £38.

Hip Hop Karaoke, 2005

Hip Hop Karaoke, started 2005

If you can reel off most of Dr Dre’s ‘2001’ album or say ‘Quiet! (Shhh) Hush your mouth, silence when I spit it out’ every time you walk into a room, Hip Hop Karaoke might just be your thing. It’s simple: show up, sign up with a hip hop song of your choice and take the stage. The night was launched by DJ and journalist Rob Pursey a full 13 years ago in the basement of The Sun & 13 Cantons pub, went on to a residency at The Social and found a new home at the Queen of Hoxton.  It’s even appeared at Lovebox. ‘We basically haven’t taken a week off in over ten years!’ says Rob. It’s travelled to Paris, Dublin and Ibiza, but ‘London will always be the true home of HHK.’ Queen of Hoxton. Shoreditch High St Overground. Every Thu. £5-£7.

And the rest... 

Slimelight, around 1989

Slimelight, started 1987

A dark scene club night that serves as a second home to London’s old-school goths. Turns 31 in October. Electrowerkz. Tube: Angel. Every Sat. £5 for members, £8 for guests. 

Science Museum Lates, 2008

Science Museum Lates, started 2008

The Science Museum has let the general public loose among its displays at night for  ten whole years. Next event: Birthday Lates. Tube: South Kensington. Wed Sep 26. Free.


Cigarette Burns, started 2009

A regular film screening night that still has love for alien and vampire movies shown on 16mm. Next film: ‘Bram Stoker’s Dracula’. The Lexi Cinema. Kensal Rise Overground. Nov 12. £9.

Celebrate the best of London at Time Out’s 50th anniversary event this weekend 

Get some more London nostalgia at our exhibition of retro Time Out covers in the Museum of Brands


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