London is a magnificent city - few places can boast the same cultural and social variety that is on offer in our capital. Practically bursting at the seams with a new theatre show, gallery launch, music gig, restaurant popup or cabaret performance every night, the options available for what to do with our free time have never been greater. Whilst this diversity is constantly seeing new life breathed into once tired parts of the city, the sheer scale of what's on offer can sometimes prove to be too much.
Similarly, whilst social media - and the platforms which connect us to those we care about most - allow us to discover and do more, often this increased connectivity places ever greater demands on our time. We're now one of the most sociable generations in history, but the desire to update others on our lives and managing invites to various different events can often make organising a good night out more complicated than it would have been 10 years ago. New technologies are being developed to meet this need, cutting through the clutter and free up some space in our ever busier calendars like my company, YPlan. With so much on offer we're increasingly becoming reliant on expert content curators to sift through everything that's available and cherry pick a selection of the best for us.
With all these options, where do you start? How do you refine the list of a thousand potential options down to one workable activity? How can we make the most of our free time?
All too often we take refuge in habit. Routine becomes our saving grace. Why risk trying something new, when you know you can rely on the trusty local down the road, that nightclub that always guarantees a good night, or that restaurant that knows just how you like your order? By becoming a regular you risk becoming a repeat offender who is missing out. In trying something new, bring spontaneous and taking a risk, you could stumble upon something truly unforgettable.
When Rafe Offer, Dave Alexander and Rocky Start founded Sofar Sounds back in 2009 they wanted to do things differently. Bored of going to the same crowded gigs over and over again, they decided to create something new. Wouldn't people enjoy the music more, wouldn't it feel more intimate, if people could just gather at their friend's house and watch the band perform right there in their front room? With no talking allowed? Wouldn't that be a magical experience? That's precisely what they did, instead of sticking with the same tried and tested method, they introduced a totally new type of live music experience which is now enjoyed by locals from London to San Francisco.
Aside from habit, another reason for our reluctance to explore the unknown is often simply the amount of time it takes to plan a night out, but that too is being revolutionised by technology. We can now indulge our impulses at the touch of a button, and going-out is certainly no exception. Smartphone in hand you can leave the office at 5 o'clock any day of the week, find a highly recommended nearby watering hole in two taps, gather your friends in minutes, book tickets to tonight's secret chess-boxing match and hail a cab using a nothing but a shortlist of essential apps.
With so much on offer the age of the regular is dying, and in its place we're seeing a new group of Londoners emerge who cast caution to the wind in favour of novelty and a taste of something new. Maybe sometimes it won't always work out how you'd planned. Maybe there will be times when you find yourself wondering whether it was worth it, but those experiences will only make you appreciate the good times even more. You'll have got your hands dirty, but you'll have unearthed a hidden gem in the process.