Having spent some three months in London’s East End, the bbp would like to share with you some snippets of wisdom about life in the hood. So here are some words of advice that we feel you may want to take on board for a happy visit to this wonderful part of town.
1. Bring a hip flask or get a job in a bar.
The young people you find standing behind bars in this area (for the uninitiated, the region superimposed anywhere east of Hoxton square, south of Stoke Newington Rail and west of Bow church, sort of) are not actually there to serve you. They are there to have fun. In this area working in a bar/cafe is a lifestyle. As bar staff you are ambassadors of East End coolness. Your job is to demonstrate to clients desperate for a drink how they should dress, what hairdo and facial hair they should grow and, most importantly, how they should party. If the clients would actually be able to get some drinks, that is. Expect the average waiting time to get served to be around 20 minutes. Note, this is just the time to get to place your order. Add to that some 20 more minutes (during which the bartender will have a shot, pinch the other bartender’s nipple, cheek kiss some four people over the bar and hand his friend a free margarita). So for a fun day out, the bbp recommends getting a hip flask or a job in bar. (Notable exceptions are ‘Off Broadway’ in Broadway Market and Nelson’s Head on 32 Horatio Street, just off Colombia Road.)
2. Do not pet dogs.
You will see a lot of people walking around with what the bbp casually refers to as baby killer dogs. The dogs usually walk way in front of the owner, who with a mix of pride and desperation holds on to the leash struggling to keep up with the animal. The bbp can not stress enough: Do not attempt to pet these dogs.
3. Wear a checkered shirt
You will feel awkward wearing anything else. Think uniform.
4. Stay gentrified, respect the locals.
This is an area which has been undergoing a sometimes aggressive gentrification process for quite some years now. There still however some drinking establishments that have bravely resisted the yuppie invasion and still cater only to the old school ‘locals’. These are really rather friendly places with good people enjoying a pint after a hard day’s work and might seem attractive to the first time visitor to the area. A word of caution, though! The sometimes rather violent gentrification has created some hard feelings among the indigenous population, the gentrifees, who are not entirely pleased with the fact that their old local pub is now a French delicatessen or a combined bar-bike shop-vintage dress establishment. These local natives usually gather in a few pubs in the area. The Bbp understands their grievance and would kindly ask you to respect these havens of authenticity and only enter if you are a guest of a regular customer. This humble request shouldn’t be too hard to comply with, as these establishments are easy to identify. They usually have part of their façade draped in the English flag, the windows are covered up so you can’t see in and if you do manage to get a glimpse you can spot some twinkling gambling machines and a tv. If you’re still in doubt, check for the number of bikes outside. If you can spot three bikes or more (see picture at the top of this post) you can assume it’s been gentrified enough for you to step in and have a go at getting yourself a drink.