Ever heard of a listening bar? Well, it might be a good time to get to know, since they’re about to take over London. It’s… you guessed it… a bar, but with a high-tech sound system playing carefully chosen vinyl records. The phenomenon is said to have sprung up in Japan in the 1950s, adopting a ‘less talk, more listening’ ethos, but more recently, the bars have been popping up all over London.
In a left turn, though, London’s latest hi-fi bar has opened on Newington Green Road. In a butcher’s shop. By night, whole-carcass, small-herd butcher Stella’s, is kitted out with a vintage soundsystem and booze and transformed into System, a listening bar. The events happen every Thursday and Friday evening, hosted by a rotation of local DJs playing their favourite vinyl on a Tannoy speaker system from 1976, while serving up wine and beers.
System isn’t the only new listening bar in town. In June, Rhythm Section founder and DJ Bradley Zero opened a new hi-fi bar, Jumbi, in Peckham, which features a collection of Zero’s own vinyl and serves up flavours of the African-Caribbean diaspora on its tasty menu.
Audiophiles have also been flocking to vinyl-focused bar Spiritland, in King’s Cross, since its opening in 2016, as well as other listening bars such as Brilliant Corners and Mu in Dalston, and Behind This Wall on Mare Street that have established audio-centric nightlife in London.
We’re predicting that it won’t be long before the capital is flooded with listening bars, so why not unpin your ears now (and buy a couple of chops)?
Stella’s, 101 Newington Green Rd, N1 4QY. Check out System’s full programme and plan your visit here.