It’s official, the night-club is dead! RIP Jägerbomb deals, dodgy late-night trips through that barren in-between land serviced by the night buses, and dodgy kebabs at 4am. With the increase of drinking prices, higher cover charges, and heavier tuition fees; Londoners have moved away from expensive nights in the back-rooms of pubs onto other incredible adventures. If you’re done with the dancefloor, it might follow that you’re pining for someone else to turn your night into a performance. It’s true, darling, that all the world’s a stage; but – where are your players? Good news! London performance art is booming. And, we’ve found 21 places your players are hiding.
1. The Bill Murray (Comedy)
The sister to the Camden Head, the Bill Murray’s comedy acts are weird, wild, and firmly on the fringe. Shun the mainstream and head here, if you’re looking for that off-the-wall experience.
2. The Hideaway (Open mic music)
Russian Roulette style open-mic situation. Turn up, sign up, play, or simply take in the talent. The bar has a kitchen, and cocktails, for when you need a bit of Dutch courage.
3. Paper Dress Vintage (retro music and events)
Paper dress is the peak of retro London performance art, in all shapes and forms. They have an extensive event program of weird and wonderful events, from jazz classes to good old rock n roll gigs.
4. Duckie (Intersectional cabaret)
Duckie are the daddies of queer cabaret. Your favourite established queer performer no doubt grew up here. Their Saturday night parties are a love-letter to progressive and diverse entertainment.
5. That’s What She Said (Spoken Word)
As implied by the genius moniker, That’s What She Said are purveyors of London performance art, in the form of spoken word entirely from women. If that isn’t enough, they’re also a charity, meaning all your entrance money will go toward helping other women writers.
6. Queer As Jokes (LGBTQIA+ Comedy)
We know we’ve already used the Bill Murray, but we thought we’d stop to highlight one of their nights. Queer As Jokes focuses on representational sex-life comedy, from members of the community and allies. Great for when you’re looking for down to earth, real-life laughs.
7. Bang Said The Gun (Poetry)
Bang Said The Gun credit themselves for making London performance art-poetry cool again. Whether your take on their mantra, it’s hard to deny their legendary status, great for when you like your blank verse with a bite.
8. Bad Luck Cabaret (Cabaret)
“Pint-sized vixen” Laurie Black brings you the best in alternative cabaret. If you’re bored of preened and perfect showgirls, this night is for you. Laurie tours her cabaret internationally, so if you’re not in London, give the link a click. Bad luck could come your way, and very soon!
9. Suspiciously Cheap Comedy (Comedy)
If you’re broke, this London performance art-comedy is a must. It does what it says on the tin, and provides you with big-names for small bucks. Excellent when you need a break from the sadness of beans-on-toast.
10. The Glory (Drag Cabaret)
Hot on the high heels of Duckie, The Glory offer events that are usually tied together with a drag theme. When you’re looking for an alternative cabaret in the East of London that will capture the exaggerated spirit of drag, this one’s for you.
11. The Comedy Store (Comedy)
No doubt the most infamous on this list, The Comedy Store is a guaranteed good night for your mainstream laughs. With gigs every night, it’s a good choice when you need somewhere to take the visiting family.
12. Hackney ShowRoom (Theatre)
If you’re looking for theatre with an edge, Hackney ShowRoom has you covered. Committed to giving new artists a voice, head down and take in what might be the next-big-thing in London performance art.
13. The Finsbury (everything)
Rather confusingly, the Finsbury isn’t in Finsbury Park. Originally it was, but since it opened the pub has upped sticks and settled in Harringay, a little further down the road. It has a dedicated back room, and is a good choice when you want wildcard entertainment.
14. Up The Creek (Comedy)
The comedy kings of South London, Up The Creek have a professional-grade show every night. Stop here if you’re determined to laugh till your sides ache.
15. Soho Theatre (Performance Art)
Soho theatre is London’s most vibrant for cabaret, comedy, and performance art. It’s also the first place you’ll be able to see many a touring show, as a number of genre-smashing productions in Soho Theatre have gone on to great heights.
16. Outside the Box (Comedy)
Outside the Box holds the prestigious title of being voted 4th best comedy club in the UK, according to The Guardian. Expect big names performing in-progress Fringe and tour sets, in a small situation. Excellent for when you need to find your next big comedy thing.
17. The Poetry Brothel (Poetry)
The poetry brothel is a high concept immersive poetry experience. Pay a girl or boy of your choice with tokens for a private poetry reading. It combines words, music, burlesque and cocktails for a truly memorable night.
18. The Double R Club (Cabaret)
The Double R club is London’s only David Lynch themed club night. Here, cabaret, burlesque and opera all take a Lynchian twist, under the watchful eye of Emcee-echoing Benjamin Louche. You’ll be in heaven, and fine, soon.
19. The Poetry Cafe (Poetry)
The Poetry cafe in Covent Garden is great if you want a little more daylight in your London performance art. They hold a whole host of events, including poetry slams and open mics; and plus – they have coffee too.
20. The Troy Bar (reggae Open Mic)
The kings of reggae the Troy Bar hold a specific reggae-style open mic every Tuesday. Chill, relax, and sing from your lion-heart.
21. Cellar Door (Everything above, and more)
30s Berlin mixed with a dive bar, Cellar Door is nestled below Aldwych. They have everything from jazz to poetry to comedy to cocktails, which makes it an excellent choice when you’re feeling indecisive.
Dedicate to your new night out? Tell us which night you’re looking forward to attending. Then if you’re into a bargain, don’t forget to check out Offer Parade, the home of offer to buy shopping. Negotiate, make deals, and save your coins for your precious pass-times, whatever you choose to do.