Looking for a slightly off-beat evening out in London town? Here’s a selection of weird and wonderful alternatives to the usual pub/club social for those that delight in dancing, delicacies and deviancy…
A decadent food-crazy weekend festival culminates in a mad banquet. Along the way, you can learn everything you’ll ever need to know about offbeat food. Listen to food futurologists or watch food magicians and butter sculptors at work. Watch out for the haunted chocolate gothic house and make sure you try the ice-cream made out of camel milk. Don’t forget to bring your appetite.
October 21-23, £5
Truman Brewery, Dray Walk Gallery, E1 6QL
Tube: Liverpool Street
Big hair, big atmosphere and big prizes. Bogan bingo is one of the hottest tickets in town and booking is essential if you want to get involved. Expect a lot of flannel, plenty of mullets and an absolute cupboard-full of Use Your Illusion II T-shirts. But beware, Bogan Bingo is habit-forming and you maybe quickly become a regular at this cracking little mid-week event.
Every Thursday night, £5
The Underdog, SW4 7AB
Tube: Clapham Common
It does what is says on the tin – strap on your skates and go whizzing around the club as the mirror-ball twinkles approvingly overhead. Plenty of high-kitsch outfits and a soundtrack that will transport you all the way back to 1981. Boys, get out your stonewash denim; girls, go the side-ponytail and blue eyeshadow.
Renaissance Rooms, SW8 1RZ
Stumblin’ Sims Blues Kitchen
It’s all about recreating the ‘leather-clad sexiness of the 1950s and 1960s Hollywood’. How many guys will come dressed as James Dean?
October 1, £20
Village Underground, 54 Holywell Lane, EC2A 3PQ
Tube: Old St
An avante-garde cabaret night that celebrates ‘glamorous polysexuality’. So basically, it’s anything goes and gender-bending is not just a novelty, but a must-have accessory. So, boys, cast your mind back to when your sister dressed you up as a girl and embrace it.
Wednesday nights, £5
Madame Jojo’s, 8-10 Brewer St, W1F 0SE
Tube: Piccadilly Circus
They promise Scottish dancing with attitude, so strap on your sporan and get to it. There’s a discount on the door for those in tartan.
September 30, £14
Cecil Sharp House, 2 Regent’s Park Rd, NW1 7AY
Tube: Camden Town
Coney Island party
There are stacks of fairground attractions, including a freakshow, rock‘n’roll dancing, strongman contests, magic displays and a hot dog-eating contest. Basically, it’s the craziest beach-side resort imaginable, all in an unlikely east London locale.
First Saturday of every month, £8
Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club
Tube: Bethnal Green
When booze was banned, the best parties were underground. At this event, you’ll be swigging surreptitiously from concealed cocktails and downing contraband liquor from your teacup to avoid the long arm of the law. It’s not just about illicit drinking, though – there’s also some illegal gambling to be done.Plenty of good-time guys and girls will be on hand, so it’s a grand excuse to go all out with period dress.
September 24, £15
The Grand Hall, Euston Road, WC1H 9AU
Tube: King’s Cross St Pancras
Tuesday night Inn
It’s a youth club for grown-ups, with ping pong tournaments, table football and old-school video games. So you can relive your angsty teenage years among a bunch of angsty twenty-somethings. At least there will be booze this time around. Well, hopefully. The Queen of Hoxton is an excellent watering hole anyway, with possibly the best rooftop garden in London.
Tuesday nights, free
Queen of Hoxton, 1 Curtain Rd, EC2A 3JX
Tube: Old Street
Belle epoque Halloween special
It’s like a twisted Moulin Rouge, all given a Halloween makeover. Jaw-dropping acrobatic feats and show-stopping musical acts abound, along with some eye-popping outfits. It’s sure to be a pulsating, mind-bending evening. Step into a fantasy world where masked villains melt into the crowd as corseted courtesans drape themselves over gilded balconies. Go easy on the absinthe.
October 29, £20
The Grand Hall, Euston Rd, WC1 9AU
Tube: King’s Cross St Pancras
It’s a dining experience unlike any other at this avant-garde bar-restaurant with a sleekly futuristic interior. Just as you’ve settled in for your meal, highlighted by some daring Pan-Asian offerings, the entertainment begins, fusing outrageous cabaret with captivating circus acts. The performances differ from one night to the next, making it a venue that never fails to surprise.
27-29 Endell Street, WC2H 9BA
Tube: Covent Garden
Torture Garden fetish ball
The leather overalls and gimp masks will be out in force when Europe’s largest fetish club throws its annual ball. Torture Garden has been strapping in and breaking taboos since 1990 and a night out at one of its massive parties is not an evening you’re likely to forget.
An eye-opening excursion into the realm of the weird.
October 1, £30
St Mathews Church, Brixton Hill SW2 1JF
It’s a throwback to a more refined era, with all the vintage glamour of the poshest manor houses and intricately decorated cakes and scones.
The Mandeville Hotel, Mandeville Pl, W1U 2BE
Tube: Bond Street
It’s an entire festival devoted to making stuff and making a mess. Whether you’re painting miniatures or wanting to make a birthday card using macaroni and paste, this arts and crafts hub for adults is sure to unlock your creative instincts.
September 25, £10
42-46 Pollard Row, E2 6NB
Tube: Bethnal Green
King of the Wing
If extreme eating has always been on your must-try list, then get along to this gastropub and see how many spicy buffalo wings you can scoff.
The Jam Tree, 514 King’s Rd, SW6 2EB
Tube: Fulham Broadway
Hip hop karaoke
If you’ve ever fancied yourself as a badass MC in the making, this is the chance to show off your skills in front of an appreciative audience. Or, on the flipside, if you suck, you’ll likely be forgiven. Warm up your beatbox and get your rhymes ready.
Thursday nights, free
The Social, 5 Little Portland St
Tube: Oxford Circus
Sink the pink dance and film night
Revel in the cheesiness of this bizarrely infectious night out, which takes inspiration from all your favourite Eighties films, while adding in some of the most audaciously dance moves.
It is billed as “a camptastic rave-up” and there’s more spandex than you can shake a stick at. When you stick hundreds off people in facepaints and wigs, it’s almost certain to get messy. So just go with it.
Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club, E2 6NB
Tube: Bethnal Green
Shake rattle and bowl
Finally, an event that allows you to combine your love of bowling with old-time rock’n’roll and Motown tunes at this weekly event in central London. It’s stylishly retro, with all the trappers of an old-school diner. Punters go all out to dress up to the 1950s theme, although it can be tricky to bowl if you’re wearing heels and a giant beehive hairdo.
Saturday nights, free
All Star Lanes, Bloomsbury Place, WC1B 4DA