The blog for hip + arty urban adventurers. Uncovering things to do and places to go in London and beyond. Visit the main site at a www.theculturalexpose.co.uk and click here to join the mailing list...
I am… Leo Bedford, DJ & founder of Itchy Feet events. I’ve been in London all my life, and for me, it’s (weather adjusted) the best city in the world.
The area in London I call home is… Whitechapel. I’ve been here for three years now, but it’s the place that I feel suits me best. I’ve lived in just about every point of the compass at some point, but never settled anywhere before here.
I’ve got to have a meal at…Stingray Globe Cafe. Epic pizza. Nice and small (not the pizza). Super cheap
I tend to get my threads from…Oscar Milo in Spitalfields. It’s an independent place (I think) run by tailors, so what you get is really interesting clothes as they don’t have to worry about making lots of them. They’ve got great details on the shirts, but sadly they’re crazy expensive, so I try not to go there too often!
To enjoy London’s nightlife, you… need to get underground. All the best places are subterranean. Of the places I DJ at, Concrete and the basement of The Book Club are the most fun. Low ceilings, dark, crowded, hot… perfect.
If I was mayor, I would… get a better bicycle. And get more going on, on the Hackney Marshes. The recent BBC gig was great for the area, so hopefully we can have some more stuff over there for those of us that don’t like Rihanna.
My favourite spot to check out art is…Nelly Duff. It’s a print shop I got to a lot. Galleries tend to leave me a little cold, where as in Nelly Duff’s all the stuff is great and (relatively) affordable.
I’d kindly tell a tourist to… try out Zone 2. Spread your wings and ditch the West End.
The things I miss when I leave London are… the subtle differences. I’m a big fan of the little things that add up to make something great. It’s the reason why nude espresso is better than Starbucks. Not one big thing – just lots of little things.
My soundtrack to London would include…Gold by Wake Owl, I Wonder by Rodriguez and Line of Fire by Junip. Or my Itchy Feet radio show of course! www.mixcloud.com/theitchyfeetshow
I’d kindly tell a tourist to… go to Hampstead Heath; it is quaint and beautiful and doesn’t feel like it is in a city. I would also encourage a walk through Broadway market on a Saturday and Columbia Road Flower market on Sunday.
The things I miss when I leave London are… the beautiful parks and cheap Turkish food (halloumi and falafel wraps).
My soundtrack to London would be… Blood Orange, Champagne Coast
I am…a graphic designer currently working for a small agency based in the heart of Soho. I graduated five years ago and avoided real work for a few years by running a hip hop/turntablism night with a few friends at The Social, also in Soho, as well as DJing in a few bars and clubs. These days I occasionally DJ but I’ve found people don’t appreciate 90’s hip hop, funk and soul half as much as they should.
The area in London I call home is… E4 bang bang, aka Chingford. I’ve lived here all of my life apart for three years at university. I wouldn’t class it as “proper” London as it’s on the borders of the capital and Essex so it’s a bit of an odd suburb.
I’ve got to have a meal at… The Table Café, 83 Southwark Street, SE1 0HX. Table effortlessly pull off the relaxed café come restaurant look and vibe. The food is always great whether it be breakfast, brunch. lunch or dinner! The staff are friendly, the price is reasonable and the background music is always great - they were playing GangStarr, Nina Simone and Sly & the Family Stone last time I ate dinner there!
I tend to get my threads from… Most recently I picked up a few items from Albam. They’ve got a few stores around town. They have a good variety of clothes that can be worn as either smart or casual which is always useful. Tapered chinos and stuff like that I guess…
To enjoy London’s nightlife, you should… I prefer bars over clubs and where ever I go I always seem to end up at Dragon Baron Shoreditch High Street. I think this is because when it was near Old Street roundabout, it was a bit like Cheers in there. I recently went to Nightjar on City Road and I highly recommend anybody who likes cocktails, jazz or both. I can’t remember the name of it but they have a cocktail that combines red wine and dark chocolate. It goes down a treat with some live music. Just make sure you book in advance.
If I was mayor, I would… Fast track the proposal to put in a shopping lane and a walking lane for pedestrians on Oxford Street. I work near by and won’t feel guilty bashing tourists out of the way if they’re stood in the walking lane.
My favourite spot to check out art is… The Design Museum. I am more into design than art so it’s much more likely I would be paying a visit to their exhibitions that any of the other galleries. Plus, the last time I went I got to oggle at Joe Lewis’s 220ft yacht that was docked right outside on the Thames.
I’d kindly tell a tourist to… either eat at Table after traipsing round the Tate or visit Lounge Bohemia on Great Eastern Street for a quirky bar with good cocktails and free hit or miss canapés. Make sure you book in advance though as they have been known to turn people away even if they’re nearly empty?!
The things I miss when I leave London are… The hustle. I strangely enjoy being in the city and fending for space. I like to rush around, skipping past dawdling tourists and generally getting to where I need to be without any hassle. I don’t have much patience for slow people on pavements. I also massively miss the Monmouth Coffee shop when I’m out of town. They have two shops and a roasters. I love filter coffees (bit of a coffee geek) and Monmouth are by far the best in my opinion.
London Possé: How’s Life in London - Early Rodney P…need I say more? This came out a little after rappers in London realised they didn’t have to put on American accents to make a good hip-hop track. The line “A yank said I sound Australian” always cracks me up because that happened to me once. After just listening to this I wonder if people from outside the UK can even decipher half the stuff they’re rapping about.
Lovin’ Spoonful: Summer in the City- When I’m riding in a sweaty, packed tube carriage and this starts playing on my iPod it always brings a smile to my face. However hot and stuffy London gets with its lack of air con anywhere the evenings are always great in the summer.
Overlooking the chaos of the city is a lovely little rooftop with a difference. You can now escape from the winter weather and warm up at WigWamBam, a cosy, heated wigwam on top of the Queen of Hoxton. Of course no domed dwelling would be complete without a bar and grill, so you can enjoy a hot mulled cider and chargrilled snack while snuggling up under the twinkle of fairy lights. The wigwam is in residence for three months, with themed nights and eccentric events taking place throughout. So head down and enjoy live readings, ukelele jam sessions, acoustic music and sing-a-longs under the stars.
WigWamBam is at the Queen of Hoxton, 1-5 Curtain Road, and is open Monday to Friday 4-10pm and Saturday 6-10pm until March 2012. More information can be found here: www.queenofhoxton.com(Words: Clare Ebberson)
I am… a very multi-dimensional kind of person, but to try and define what I do, I guess it comes under the umbrella of being a Freelance Creative. I operate project by project, with industries I’ve worked in including music, TV, radio, film and theatre. I also organise and manage events and artists. London is like a mosaic as opposed to a melting pot, which other metropolitan cities claim. This is where London’s beauty lies and is probably its most unique selling point too. The diversity is distinct, not lost, and yet still contributes to creating a whole. Also, the way it’s always evolving keeps things interesting and I like the fact you can never get bored here! I’ve got a real passion for London and get a kick out of showing international family, friends and clients around my home city.
The area in London I call home is… I was raised South of the river, but have also resided in Islington, Camden and Hackney. I’m currently in the process of moving back to North London, but would like to experience living on the Westside too. Holland Park is a cool area, as its tranquil, but still close to the buzz of the city centre.
I’ve got to have a meal at… anywhere that serves authentic (cooked in the drum) jerk chicken! I’m a bit of a die-hard fan and will travel far and wide for the good stuff. One year, I passed through Notting Hill Carnival JUST for that reason! Haha… There used to be a festival called Jerk Cookout which took place every summer in Horniman Museum Gardens and it was heavenly! Lemonia in Chalk Farm is one of London’s best Greek restaurants, while Ponte Nuovoin Crystal Palace serves amazing Italian. I’m also a stickler for Thai and Indian cuisine and I can’t forget dim sum and tapas. My parents and grandparents (plus various other family members) were restauranteurs, which probably explains why I’m a bit of a foodie!
I tend to get my threads from… independent boutiques, High Street and online stores, markets (Spitalfields and Portabello are two of my faves) plus a few one-off pieces by some upcoming designers I know.
To enjoy London’s nightlife, you should… Try something different! I advocate the ‘variety is the spice of life’ philosophy, have clocked up an endless list of alternative nights and am always on the hunt for new experiences. I guess it’s because I get bored easily, so avoiding the same old same old is a necessity.
If I was mayor, I would… apart from slashing the extortionate public transport fares, expand train schedules to run later on weekends. I’d really like to set up schemes which would enable underprivileged people to experience activities they would never usually have a chance to, from the arts to sporting events. Also, the general culture of rudeness bugs me! Londoners seriously need to learn how to be friendlier to each other, so I might have to introduce fines or some other way to eradicare that nonsense! Also, in an ideal world, I’d love to build a canopy over the city. The weather can really spoil the vibe at times, so having guaranteed warmth would be awesome! Of course it would be able to open on sunny days and when we need rain. Having seen Boris in action at Mayor’s Question Time, and being thoroughly unimpressed by his bafoonery, I would so revel in doing the job properly!
My favourite spot to check out art is… as a hobby photographer, I see art pretty much everywhere. I’m a fan of street art - from community murals to graffiti and the pavement re-creations of the masters’ classics you find in places like Covent Garden. In terms of more conventional exhibitions, whenever I hear of something that sparks interest, I’m there! …The Tate Modern is a great art space and their late night events make it a cool hang out spot too.
I’d kindly tell a tourist to… Invest in taking one of the bus tours, as it’s a great way to see the whole city. The history you get is really insightful too. I’d also recommend doing a waterways walk - along the Southbank, by the Regent’s Canal or around Docklands, then go to Parliament Hill or Greenwich Park for panoramic views. Oh, and if you want good fish and chips in central London, Fryer’s Delight on Theobald’s Road in Holborn is the place to go.
The things I miss when I leave London are… apart from the obvious one, being my peoples, being away from the multiculturalism here makes me glad to come home.
I have… lived in London most of my life and guess what, I love London. There is so much energy here. You look around and it is so diverse that you can pick up trends just by looking around.
The area in London I call home is…Charlton. I’ve moved to the Southeast in the last 6 months and being next to Greenwich is pretty cool. Whenever, I leave the area for a while, it’s like fresh air when I come back.
I’ve got to have a meal at…Taste of Raj. It’s a really nice Indian restaurant in Blackheath.
I tend to get my threads from…Jaeger, Aquascutum and Cos. I like quirky T-shirts. I once had a nice blue t-shirt that had the logo, “Make us a brew”.
To enjoy London’s nightlife, you should… try Matsuri in St James, a yummy Japanese restaurant. Working in the City, I would often go to local bars, but they’re not the greatest - I’d rather dine out than drink out.
If I was mayor, I would… also allow cars in bus lanes during the day and have them out of the bus lanes during the peak time times when folks are going home from work.
My favourite spot to check out art is…Saville Row. I like the concepts that visual merchandisers come up with when they design their windows. I like that kind of art and think it’s pretty cool.
I’d kindly tell a tourist to… keep the noise down on public transport; it’s bad enough not understanding the language but when it’s louder than everyone else’s, not cool.
The thing I miss when I leave London is… the pace! In London, there is always somewhere to go, something to do! So I am on the move even when window browsing.
I am… a Poet/Uni student studying Literature and Creative Writing. I moved to London in 2000 when I was about nine, from Zimbabwe. I’d holidayed in London before, but adopting my own postcode was a rather different experience. I’d found her, London personified, eclectic in her music and tastes, energetic and modern. She still is. Random memory: I remember being excited when I first met someone of Jamaican origin. Lol at the novelty.
The area in London I call home is… North London. Enfield, if I’m being specific. Somewhere people only seem to know about now because of the riots. Is it ironic that that’s where I feel safest? Who knows. My friends love to make jibes about how ‘technically’ I’m not a Londoner because the closest Underground station from EN1 is a bit of a bus ride away. It’s a red double decker bus, and I have an 0208 phone number, so in my eyes I make the cut.
I’ve got to have a meal at…Caribbean Scene. It’s a lovely Caribbean Restaurant that boasts a serious vegetarian menu, not that they don’t serve meat, they do, but being a vegetarian my eyes tend to only read things with a green (v) next to it. There are a few in London but I like the one by the Royal Victoria Dock because I have a thing for water. The ambience at the spot is amazing, definitely worth a Google if you won’t take my word for it. A Google, then a visit.
I tend to get my threads from… the High Street. I have a bit of a laissez-faire approach when it comes to my wardrobe. Unless I have a show and I have to leave the house on a specific mission to buy a specific type of outfit, I’ll usually be gallivanting about somewhere, as one does, spot something in a display window, investigate and end up blowing a week’s pay. On a day to day basis, the ensembles I leave my house in are usually unintentional, be that in brilliance or faux pas.
To enjoy London’s nightlife, you should… definitely have an online presence. They are so many things going on in London, it can get hard to keep track. This is especially the case when it comes to niche kinda events. Websites like the Cultural Exposé amongst others, are pretty handy when you’re looking for a different kind of night out. Tip 2: Plan your route home ahead of time. Nothing as joy killing as watching your last bus pull away from the station after a good night out, or maybe that’s just for Enfieldians.
If I was mayor, I would… shut down all the shops on Saturday. Hidden Adventist Agenda? No, but really, as much as I love the hustle and bustle of London, I do think it’d be lovely if the city was to ‘pause’ once in a while, so its workaholic citizens could enjoy the beauty of the city’s natural spots and have un-timed conversation with the city’s mixed multitude.
My favourite spot to check out art is… London’s walls, stalls, floors, trains even. I really like graffiti. It serves as the unadulterated voice of the masses, (till the council clean it up). My favourite piece is a pseudo Andy Warhol pop up piece of a girl in Tottenham. Because of where it is, it can only be seen from the upper deck of a bus. There’s a little voice in my head that shouts ‘exclusive’ every time I do get to see it.
I’d kindly tell a tourist to… keep their receipts so they can claim tax back at the airport when they are leaving. Nothing finishes a holiday like payment on exit. That, and keep to the left when walking, and, right on the escalators if they are standing. Been said before but, some people are repeat offenders.
The things I miss when I leave London are… my mommy… like for real. TFL (my missing it being the love part of the love/hate feelings I have towards it), the variety of food available, delivery and in store, the spoken word poetry scene, oh and black hair shops. Really and truly someone should start delivering black hair products etc. to those outside major cities. Something for the people.
My soundtrack to London would be…
Tinashe - Mr Presumption: I really like this song and think it has a particularly English feel to it. A Zimbabwean Londoner, kinda like me. :) The beauties of globalisation.
Calvin Harris - Flashback: An oldy but a goody. There’s almost a dichotomy between the deep lyrics of the song and the monotony of the house beat.
Dean Atta’s - Revolution Awaiting Warriors: It’s not actually a song but if I were to make a soundtrack to London it’d definitely be on it. The piece speaks for itself in its brilliance and beauty. It’s one of if not thee most inspiring poem I can ever recall hearing.
Labrinth - Earthquake: It has a really refreshed old school sound to it, methinks. I’m forever rewinding the bit with the trumpets at Buckingham Palace. Cheesy but I love it.
But only if the price is right - check out our alternative picks below:
Willie Wonkaâs Chocolate Factory, NYE 2011 @ Anaya London -Â âCharlie And The Chocolate Factoryâ themed party night featuring champagne, chocolate fountains, Umpa Lumpas and a chance to win that golden ticket! Â£35Â xclusivetouch.co.uk/new-years-eve-anaya-london
Â Queen Of Hoxton New Yearâs Eve Disco -Â A New Yearâs Eve DISCO featuring various big names, artists and DJs, including cocktail reception and a few extra surprises Â£15 advance, Â£20 on the door www.queenofhoxton.com/nye
Â The Doctorâs Orders New Yearâs Eve Party, The Big Chill House -Â Expect truly thumping and soulful Hip-Hop courtesy of some exclusive DJs, all in line with the season. Â£20 thedoctorsorders.com/diary_nye
Â We, Like You New Yearâs Eve Party, Bloomsbury Bowling Lanes -Â â¨A special night full of music performances from artists of all kinds, also plenty of activities such as table football and of course, bowling Â£20Â www.bloomsburylive.com
Â New Years Eve at Guanabara -Â â¨A spice up to the entry of 2012 as a Brazilian party is on hand at Guanabara, everything from live music to Capoiera. Starts from Â£20 inc. 3-course meal nye.guanabara.co.uk
I am… a professional dancer, actress and a model loving the hotness of the bikram and living the life in the East side of London in Hackney. Moved here from Finland 4 years ago.
The area in London I call home is… Hackney. After few years in Camden we found our home in East. Got a large space full of little swings and things n hula hoops just off Kingsland road overlooking the canal. Our lovely large windows guarantee that we will need lots of hot chocolate to survive over the winter. I feel like I’m at home when I’m walking down the streets and get a chance to catch few familiar smiles and heys on my way. I love the spontaneous coffee catch ups and surprise long night outings after exhibition openings. My ‘home area’ seems to be within walking (cycling) distance. I rarely need to travel further than that to find the action.
I’ve got to have a meal at… The Breakfast Club. You can’t go wrong with the number 3 wrap. Sometimes during the week I gotta grab the tastiest street food from the Whitecross Street Market. In the evenings the pop up restaurants got something new to offer and of course the there is all these Vietnamese places on Kingsland road.
I tend to get my threads (clothes) from… here and there. Yesterday I did some great fabric founds from the Cloth House in Soho. I love to check the treats of Dover Street Market and always pop into the Start in Shoreditch just cause they simply got the loveliest staff there. Sample sales and short trips abroad always rule and friends wardrobes are great too! Just gotta keep your ears and eyes open.
To enjoy London’s nightlife, you should… keep your ears and eyes open (again). Be with great company, look for the gallery openings and exhibitions and let the night lead your way. House parties is the way…. to keep going til the next day ;)
If I was mayor, I would… make the streets more cyclist friendly and fix the pot holes on the roads.
My favourite spot to check out art is… isn’t art everywhere? That’s why London’s so great, there’s always something going on for everyone. It’s all out there, you just gotta go and get yours. When it comes to performing arts, War Horse at the New London Theatre is one not to miss!
I’d kindly tell a tourist to… keep on running.
The things I miss when I leave London are… friends and the chances the city gives to you. The action. Surprises around the corner.
My soundtrack to London would be (name roughly 3 songs and what makes them so interesting)
I am a… Londonite photographer, I love everything photo-related and strive to keep my work fresh. I cover events from Burlesque nights and underground film screenings to weddings and exhibition openings. I have lived in London for six years now and feel that the city really inspires me in work and play. Every day is different and I never stop discovering here. I think it might be love.
The area in London I call home is… right on the river in Battersea, which is awesome. I haven’t been here that long but have recently stumbled on lots of little thrift shops and quirky places off the beaten track. My favorite spot to pass the time is Battersea Village Square; it’s a micro hub of world cuisine with Italian, Indian, Thai, Lebanese and seafood restaurants. There is always something going on there, whether is be a wacky jazz trio playing or an outdoor zumba class - it’s all going down in the square! I grew up on a farm but I was never terribly keen on overdosing on fresh air and frankly I find wellington boots ugly and incredibly uncomfortable, so like dear Dick Wittington (and many others before me) I packed my bags and journeyed to the Big Smoke to seek my fortune. Whilst on arrival I was initially disappointed to find the streets were not all paved with gold, I have found that there are more valuable hidden treasures around the city!
I’ve got to have a meal at…Borough Market. It is certainly up there - although I am not sure you would call it a ‘meal’ more of a graze / gorge of all the amazing artesian foods they have. Places with offers on are also a winner for me for a couple of reasons – firstly they get you out of the rut of going to the same places so it’s a bit of a journey of discovery, and secondly I unashamedly love the smug feeling of getting a good deal!
I tend to get my threads (clothes) from… shops. Especially ones that sell very beautiful and incredibly uncomfortable shoes, sadly I’m drawn to them like a moth to a flame… Will I ever learn?
To enjoy London’s nightlife, you should… expect the unexpected! I always go out with an open mind and try to find out what’s going on before hand. I am really lucky in my line of work that I get to hear about, and photograph, lots of really cool things that happen around London. My main tip is to choose an area and stick with it. It’s a belief shared by Londoners that everywhere is an hour away - whether you are going a couple of stops on the bus or tubing across the zones it always takes an hour!
If I was mayor, I would… crack the whip and get my fellow cyclists fully clad in neon and helmets and supply lots of flashing lights. I love, love, love my trusty stead and couldn’t be in London without it – it’s pretty much the only way I get around. But I have been knocked off a couple of times, it’s not fun…
My favourite spot to check out art is… always changing. But ultimately it’s actually my flat as it’s covered in art I adore, and lots of my own photos – it’s like a private gallery! Having worked in the art world and a keen interest in photography and beautiful things, I’m signed up to various galleries so often visit new shows and pop up exhibitions whether they be on Cork Street or private homes. I am lucky enough to photograph for the Tate Museums so I never miss their exhibitions. I get a real rush from going to auctions and love seeing what the trends are and who is buying.
I’d kindly tell a tourist to… Get out of Leicester Square and Covent Garden and try something new, there is a lot more to London then chain restaurants and people handing out flyers, I promise! Also the number 11 bus is a really good route – you get to see a lot of the sights.
The things I miss when I leave London are… hmm… it’s far easier to talk about the things I would NOT miss about London. One is the dodgy paving stones that when trodden on in the rain submerges your feet in water to your ankles. Another is the bus drivers who see you running and waving frantically but then pull away at the last second leaving you in a puff of bus smoke.
My soundtrack to London would be:
Airborne Toxic – “Sometime Around Midnight” During the day the city is so hectic you barely have time to think, I find my quiet times are always at night. To me this song expresses that as it’s all about switching off and reassessing your feelings and thoughts without the white noise.
The XX – “Intro”A dear friend of mine got married in a photographic studio in east London and this is what accompanied her entrance. When the music started the atmosphere was electric everyone had goosebumps. The song wasn’t out there in the mainstream at that point and the words I would use describe to London also apply to this beautiful piece of music. Epic, urban, hypnotic, fresh and most of all… Love.
Cash Machine – “Hard Fi” This was released around the time I moved to London and I listened to it over and over and over again, it was kind of an anthem for me at that time and has a great beat for stomping around getting to know the city.