As a North Londoner (pronounced Norf Landaner) I've only ever experienced the North-South of the river rivalry. In my mind the South is full of crochet sweater-wearing rowers who talk like they've got marbles in their mouth and the North, well the North is THE coolest place on earth -- where else can you get a cream cheese and salmon bagel at 3am?
But since I started working a proper grown up job right near Soho I've come accustomed to a new sort of rift... the East-West divide *gasp*. It seems Londoners just can't find enough ways to hate on each other. The most bizarre aspect of this particular gulf however, is the fact it's essentially hipsters with varying degrees of facial hair picking on each other purely because of where they like to "cotch".
One of my East London acquaintances refers to where I work as "Noho", you know because it's just so rubbish and there's nothing going on compared to way out East. Now, instead of doing the sensible thing and stop hanging out with people who live their lives by the boundaries of Tottenham Court Road and St Paul's (for those of you who don't live in LDN those places are really close together) I decided to tackle the E/W divide head on in one night.
Upon reflection I probably shouldn't have picked a Thursday night (Friday in the office was a struggle) but hindsight is 20/20 vision. Anyway, one thirsty media Thursday (as they're sometimes referred to in Noho) I found myself on the first leg of a six-venue club crawl from deepest darkest Dalston all the way to the King's Road in Chelsea.
The first joint, an industrial-looking place that served gin and Red Bull Editions cocktails alongside the biggest onion rings you've ever seen and all kinds of greasy on-trend fayre, went by the name Birthdays. While upstairs acted as a bar/restaurant and general spilling-onto-the-street smoking area, there was a gritty live music venue in the basement.
I've gotta say, it was a pretty happenin' place and after smushing (yes, that's a word) a lot of chili cheese fries into my face and bouncin' along to some hip hop I'd almost forgotten my mission. Almost.
Next up was another hipster haunt just down the road, The Alibi. Walking down the thin staircase which led to the basement bar was a wee bit unnerving and I thought to myself, "I'm really not trendy enough for this place."
But as soon as I heard the muffled tones of Try Again by Aaliyah and got another round of gin and Red Bulls in, I felt part of the achingly cool Dr Martins-wearing, mustachioed crowd.
The last place on my East hit list was The Macbeth, a tumbledown pub a stone's throw from Old Street. Legend has it Amy Winehouse was "discovered" at this joint with the likes of The XX, Ladyhawke and Paloma Faith on its set list of days gone by.
While I was there I was treated to a bit of thrash metal-cum-screamo, not exactly my cup of tea but any venue that boasts a giant glitter ball and renaissance-style mosaics on the wall is worth a visit in my book.
Also, there's something utterly delightful about watching bearded arty-types in Creepers moshing with their waxed cotton satchels strapped securely to their backs.
West London promised a spot of lite relief from Hipsterville as I hit Rita Ora's favourite Mayfair hangout, Mahiki. Now, this place is ridiculous. Unlike in East London you're allowed to leave your cool at the door and indulge in a hella lot of tiki-themed mayhem. Forget drinking out of a glass this place served up my RB and gin in a bloomin' treasure chest complete with indoor fireworks.
I spent a good boozy hour chatting about the upcoming -- and VERY East London'ish -- Rock Lobsta pop up, set to launch at the club in July, with the swashbuckling pirate host before heading off. How that dude keeps up his Jack Sparrow-esque accent ALL the time, I have no idea.
Next up, The Box. Last time I went to The Box I kissed Harry Styles (on the cheek), this time Haz wasn't there but there was still a large crowd of surprisingly-hipster looking folk. I guess these cats aren't always confined to Dalston like it's often thought.
The biggest difference between these guys and those out East was they looked like they'd ironed their buttoned-all-the-way-to-the-top-even-though-I'm-not-wearing-a-tie-floral-print-shirts before putting them on, and probably showered more than once a week.
But my Westside hipster revelation didn't stop there, oh no. After finding myself in yet another club (this time the uber swanky Made in Chelsea favourite, Madisons, on the Kings Road) dancing like the Jackson Five with a guy wearing a deerstalker -- I'm guessing ironically -- to another live band, I'd totally forgotten West London was meant to be full of wannabe celebs and suits.
So, after one of the most ludicrous evenings of my life what conclusion did I come to about surviving the E/W divide? Well if you're planning on fitting in both sides of St Paul's you've got to...
1. Perfect the headgear
Always carry two hats. A beanie or a backwards baseball cap for E and a deerstalker, flat cap or beret for W.
2. Nail the dance moves
East and West Londoners both dance the same. There's a LOT of head bobbing involved just make sure to go easy on the finger snaps when busting a grove in Easties.
3. Grow some facial hair
Unfortunately, being a girl I'm unable to grow a killa tash. But if you can I would recommended sprouting an over elaborate lip warmer coz I reckon you get served at the bar quicker in East AND West.
4. Stick to cocktails
Everyone drinks cocktails and the fruitier and/or kookier the better. You get extra cool points if the receptacle is something totally off the wall like... A shoe!
Oh, and one last thing, don't go East if you've got work the next day. In West London they don't do stamps, they write on you with invisible ink instead -- so no one in the office has to know what you've been up to the night before. They haven't caught onto that out East. Here's the proof...
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