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Loch Vostok perform at Underworld | © UX Gun/Flickr
Loch Vostok perform at Underworld | © UX Gun/Flickr
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A Nightlife Guide to Camden, London

Picture of Ruaidhrí Carroll
London Travel Writer
Updated: 4 September 2017
Camden is synonymous with alternative culture, impressive street art and a thriving nightlife, which is probably why so many films have been shot here. Its former economic significance on London’s railway and canal networks lends a trendy industrial setting to the vibrant entertainment hub.

Koko

First opened as the Camden Theater in 1900 and since known by many other names, including The Music Machine and Camden Palace, Koko is the modern manifestation of a venue that has long-boomed on the entertainment scene. With a capacity of almost 1,500, there are few bigger clubs in London.

The Wildhearts onstage at Koko
The Wildhearts onstage at Koko | © wetwebwork/Flickr

Blues Kitchen

Blues Kitchen in Camden is one of three venues in a chain that has set up shop in some of London’s trendiest areas. A tribute to American culture, it serves up comforting Cajun cuisine during the day, accompanied by some blustering blues that last long into the night.

Shaka Zulu

Exotic restaurant by day, eccentric club by night, Shaka Zulu boasts a gloriously impressive African décor that provides a stunning backdrop for a night out. Emanating class, it prides itself on its extensive cocktail list and is one of a few nightclubs with an escalator inside to take you from floor to floor.

Underworld

Camden Underworld is a music venue attached to Camden High Street’s famous The World’s End pub, which has likely been around since at least 1690, when it was known as Mother Red Cap. Get down to Camden Underworld and step into history for a gig in a venue that has hosted the likes of the The Datsuns, The Darkness and Radiohead.

The entrances to Underworld and The World’s End lie side-by-side
The entrances to Underworld and The World’s End lie side-by-side | © Mark Kent/Flickr

Grand Union

Home to a beautifully adventurous Victorian boudoir style, the Grand Union represents a unique twist on the traditional English pub. Its semi-private “Snug Bar” can host up to seventy people at no extra cost – just don’t forget to book it first. Go for 7pm on a Wednesday and show off some topical knowledge in their pub quiz before flaunting those moves on the dance floor.

Fifty Five Bar

Fifty Five Bar, with two hundred different cocktails on offer, stakes a convincing claim for Camden’s cocktail crown. Furnished with leather seats and defined by its exposed brick walls, Fifty Five Bar offers patrons two spacious floors filled with trendy vibes and a diverse range of tunes.

Jazz Café

With live music every night of the week, the Jazz Café presents an immersive experience for all to enjoy. While tickets cost slightly more than some of Camden’s other venues, the talent on offer that is sure to leave even the most dedicated jazz fans more than satisfied.

Gilgamesh

Gilgamesh showcases a stunningly sophisticated Indian interior, furnished with intricate wooden carvings which bring a popular Pan-Asian restaurant to life by day and afford an elaborate setting for party goers to let loose at night. Beware: Gilgamesh demands adherence to a strict code. Men have to don smart shoes and a shirt, while high heels or smart shoes are required of the ladies.

A wooden carving on the walls of Gilgamesh
A wooden carving on the walls of Gilgamesh | © Sam Ryan/Flickr

Proud Camden

Situated in a former horse hospital, Proud Camden serves as a relaxed daytime bar which transforms into a burlesque club during the night. Exposed brick walls and high-beamed ceilings throw back to the venue’s historic past, while the music is far more contemporary, with Amy Winehouse, Big Narstie and Razorlight all having performed at Proud Camden in the past.

Camden Assembly Pub

The Camden Assembly Pub, formerly known as The Barfly, is a long-established venue of the alternative scene that lies not far from Chalk Farm station. The venue has made its name hosting intimate gigs that have showcased many up-and-coming indie artists, as well as more well known acts including Coldplay, Franz Ferdinand and Muse.