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Photograph: Lara Maysa

Seven of London’s best unusual club spaces

Some of London’s wildest parties take place in pretty reserved-looking venues. Here are seven that might just surprise you

By Kyle MacNeill

The arts space: the Vaults

Art Arts centres Waterloo

This atmospheric labyrinth under Waterloo is so sprawling you might want to bring a compass with you. It generally operates as a forward-thinking arts and theatre space, but it’s also hosted cracking club nights like queer Jewish knees-up Buttmitzvah. When a late-night rager happens here, you won’t want to miss out.

Arcola Theatre, 2016
© Lidia Crisafulli

The theatre: the Arcola

Theatre Private theatres Dalston

The Arcola is a Dalston institution specialising in diverse, contemporary and affordable productions. Its bar welcomes an equally eclectic array of club nights including jazzy swing-dance event Tiger Rag every Friday. Keep your eyes peeled for bangin’ one-off parties blasting out everything from dancehall to disco.


The bakery: Tasty Bakery

Restaurants Peckham

Known variously as Tasty Bakery, Tasties, The Bakery and Jamaica Flavour Ltd, this Peckham venue sells Afro-Caribbean sweet treats. But it also operates as a space for underground nights focusing on bashment and bass-filled sounds. It’s a recipe for a unique clubbing experience – perhaps including a sustaining slab of cake.

The restaurant: Brilliant Corners

Restaurants Dalston

This Dalston eatery dishes up Japanese food, but its beats are as tasty as its sashimi. Fittingly – since pickled red cabbage is on the menu – it often teams with cool club promoters The Pickle Factory. Top house DJs including Kerri Chandler and Palms Trax have played there.

Rye Wax
© Josh Thomas

The record store: Rye Wax

Shopping Music and entertainment Peckham

Tucked under Peckham’s Bussey Building, Rye Wax burns the candle at both ends. By day, it’s a record shop selling vinyl delights; by night it’s an intimate space for earwax-melting DJ sets. It hosts launch, label and techno parties… in short, loads of super-loud sweat fests.

Nick Tuckerweb

The vintage shop: Paper Dress Vintage

Shopping Vintage shops Hackney

This place’s main trade is gorgeous garms made from 1900 to the ’80s. As well as helping E8 locals dress to impress, the shop puts on club, comedy and open-mic nights in its cute bar. Just don’t come dressed as a ’90s icon like Baby Spice.


The converted pub: The Flying Dutchman

Bars and pubs Pubs Camberwell

A Victorian former boozer in Camberwell, The Flying Dutchman is now a private venue providing free exhibition space for students. It’s also one of south-east London’s only club spaces  with a 6am licence. Check out semi-regular queer night Flapjack for disco, drag queens and, well, actual flapjacks.


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