Once upon a time in a magical place called London, there used to be a bar, a hidden club tucked away under London Bridge.
Barely visible against the brick and architecture supporting the load of the sixteen train tracks running above: a solid yet unobtrusive door blocks the opening of an archway. Occasionally however, seemingly at random times, this secret space became Shunt – an installation stroke performance stroke double you tea eff bar. This mysterious placed closed in 2007, or maybe it didnâ??t exist at all, all that is left now is the legend, plus the odd comment:Â â??eh, did you ever go to that place under London Bridge? What was it called again?â??
Despite this demise, there are other, mysterious doors in London. Doors that open and descend into little known, seldom spoken of clubs and bars. Often to be found near train stations, for some reason. Perhaps itâ??s the arches that attracts the nocturnals . Like bats. Except bats who want to drink.
Or perhaps that should be â??Drink, Shop and Danceâ?? because thatâ??s the name of one hidden club beating at the heart of Kings Cross. Somewhere in a porn shop, there is a door concealing the entrance to a pulsating cocktail bar and a dancefloor with sparkling glitterball. Once in there, one can feel the palpable sense of relief that the punters have in managing to find the place.
Also in Kings Cross is The Black Door. Both the name of the place and a literal description, once in it / through it, there is to be found a plush 1920â??s cocktail bar. Low key in the week, shaking to rock and roll at the weekends (Do they change the name to The Green Door at the weekend?) this is another groovy place. Can you find it though?
Down the road, at Old Street, are two more mystery bars. Firstly Three Blind Mice is a musty late night bar and club hidden behind Curtain Road. Itâ??s a shabby place but it can always be relied on for music, bottled beer and conversations about the mystery of the world. Well, about problems with the underground.Â And down from here, under Hoxton Square lies Happiness Forgets. This dream like candle-lit bar is a great haunt for pondering, plotting, reminiscing, forgetting…
Another place with a great name is The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town, also in Shoreditch. Like â??Drink. Shop and Danceâ??, but somewhat less stressful in the finding of it, Scaredy Cat Town is a basement accessible through a cafe. With food and drink late into the night and with a playful atmosphere, this gem pokes fun at the unaware posers strutting around above and outside.
Lastly, though and a very well known Â hidden place – if thatâ??s not oxymoronicÂ – Â is The Troy Club -possibly Londonâ??s best worst kept open secret. Somewhere between Goodge Street and Tottenham Court Road – follow the shouts and Spanish singing – is a narrow doorway.Â Creaking steps lead upward. Two – or is it three – floors and you find sofaâ??s, people talking, jostling, everyone always friendly.
Lots of foreigners, smiling bar staff, this is a place that you will never want to leave, finally do leave and then can never find it again. Until the next time you hear the mystical sound of shouting and lilting, Spanish song…
So there you go, look for the hidden bars in basements, hiding in shops or innocuous doorways, you never know just whatâ??s going on behind there…
Steve â??Strawâ?? Hulmes is a professional blogger and aspiring stand-up who writes on the London night club scene for INSIDE LTL.