Are you looking to impress that special someone? If so, East London – with its anything’s-possible vibe, off-the-wall quirkiness and sheer range of venues – is your friend. We asked our local insiders to give us some unusual East-London date-night inspiration, from arthouse cinema to curling (yes, curling).
Catch a show at the Pleasance Theatre
Are big, shiny West End productions with their hordes of tourists and exorbitant ticket prices not your thing? Enjoy a more low-key night of performance and fringe productions at Islington’s Pleasance Theatre, with some comedy shows thrown in for good measure. The venue is explicitly LGBTQ-friendly and hosts regular drag nights, too. Importantly, there’s a gorgeous bar with a romantic terrace – perfect for getting to know new dates better over a sophisticated interval drink or two. Recommended by local insider Olivia Dicker
Located on the rooftop of a busy shopping centre, Roof East offers all sorts of activities. In summer, you can try your hand at golf and batting, and, in winter, there’s curling to enjoy. It’s the perfect spot if you feel like injecting some competitive spirit into your date. After you’ve exhausted yourselves with the variety of activities on offer, you can sit back and cuddle up on the rooftop with a drink, and admire the stunning East London skyline.
If you haven’t heard of shuffleboarding, it’s essentially a mix between ten-pin bowling and curling, and it has already taken parts of the world by storm. Located a stone’s throw from Boxpark, the London Shuffle Club is a great place to take a date for a competitive evening of games. After your match, you can quench your thirst with the club’s great selection of cocktails and drinks.
Take your date back to the Roaring ’20s with a trip to Hackney’s Castle Cinema. Built in 1913, the Castle Cinema was revived for modern audiences through a crowdfunding campaign, and what a beautiful job of restoring it they’ve done. The original features are all still there, allowing you to enjoy your movie in a stunning 1920s picture house while sitting in an expansively comfy armchair. Handily for date nights, there’s a beautiful Art Deco bar that serves pizzas and a good range of vegan options, meaning you can journey back to the Golden Age of Hollywood with a fancy cocktail or two. Recommended by local insider Olivia Dicker
Embrace your inner child and battle through the ball pits at Shoreditch’s Ballie Ballerson bar. This quirky cocktail bar has over one million balls in its venue, and the main ball pit has UV lights to enhance your experience. If your date has a sweet tooth, be sure to try the retro creative cocktails, based on sweets like Dib Dabs and Skittles.
Located in Trapeze Bar on Great Eastern Street, Disco Yoga may not be the most conventional date idea, but the class claims to get you laughing, chatting and connecting, which is pretty much what everyone wants from a date. The class is made up of energising yoga sequences to disco anthems, and after the session you can unwind with a superfood cocktail.
Church of Sound is a regular live music night hosted in Clapton’s St James the Great church, which still functions as a regular place of worship during the day. Expect energetic, passionate performances from unbelievably talented jazz and funk musicians. This is a great spot to take any music-loving date – it’s a welcoming space that really is all about the music. Shows can sell out, so it’s a good idea book in advance – you wouldn’t want to disappoint your date, after all. Recommended by local insider Olivia Dicker
This neon sign heaven is a great alternative art gallery option. God’s Own Junkyard combines artist Chris Bracey’s personal collection of neon art with some of his own artwork. Boasting everything from shop signs to old movie props, the vibrant collection will no doubt impress any date. The neon wonderland can be found in Walthamstow and is currently open to visitors on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
In the basement of Shoreditch’s painfully trendy ACE Hotel lies Miranda, a late-night club that hosts all sorts of date-friendly events – live music, film screenings, magazine launches, drag games, live bingo and more. Many of these are one-offs, so bring that special someone here for something unique. Combine one of these with a meal at Hoi Polloi upstairs for a night to remember, or come ready to dance the night away to a soundtrack of RnB, hip hop, Afrobeat and trap music.