7 'Alternative' London Nights-Out That Are Actually Good

Try something different for a change

Warm, fuzzy and familiar as our local pubs may be, we've all had that niggling urge to try something different. To escape our predictable night-out routine and see what eclectic London really has to offer.

Somewhere "else", whatever and wherever that might be.

But we still want to drink – that's a given. Just not out of jam jars, plant pots or vintage thimbles. And we'll avoid any night that refers to itself as "quirky", or even mentions the word "Zumba".

Just somewhere good. Doing something fun. Where the whole night isn't spent listening to your kind-of-mate Greg struggle over a joke that he can't really remember from Twitter.

Somewhere like…

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Where: Various pubs and clubs around London.

What does it do: Karaoke in front of a live band.

As far as wish fulfillment goes, karaoke is pretty lacking. Not only are you always singing against off-key muzak, but you need to sit through at least 18 increasingly shit versions of 'Wonderwall' before you even get a go.

No siree - you want the live band and the adoring crowd. You want to feel like the snake-hipped rock god that you were always destined to be. You want 'Rockaoke'.

A live band of session musicians who travel around London bars and pubs every week, they cover a huge roster of songs that you can take your pick from.

Find out more here.

Literary Death Match

Where: Various locations across London.

What does it do: Witty lit and funny bits.

Four famous and emerging authors perform their own writing to a panel of all-star judges in 7 minutes or less, before facing up to their hilarious criticism. Think X Factor mixed with Def Poetry Jam.

Depending on when you're reading this, we highly suggest nabbing a ticket for the Southbank Centre show on the 25 June, starring comedian Shappi Khorsandi, alongside Natashia Deon, Harry Baker and a bunch of other celebrated writer types.

Find out more here.

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Four Thieves Pub

Where: Clapham Junction

What does it do: Giant scalextric and retro brilliance.

Video game bars are everywhere these days. And to stand out, you really need to do something special: like build a massive scalextric track in your loft, for example.

Sidle up alongside your sozzled rivals, grab a wheel, and drink drive to your heart's content, safe in the knowledge that you'll only be smashing into your own pint as you attempt an audacious, crowd-pleasing drift turn.

And once you've had enough of that, you can carry on with the impressive line-up of retro gaming booths set up on the sidelines (or settle down for one of their regular comedy nights).

Find out more here.

Romantic Misadventures

Where: Various locations.

What does it do: Life-affirming tales of cringe-worthy sorrow.

Put together by entertaining Twitter person Kit Lovelace, Romantic Misadventures is a monthly show where randomers jump on stage to tell hilariously bleak stories about their love life. It's half-stand up, half support group.

And it's funny. We promise.

If you've got a story in your sad, dented locker, pitch it to Kit on Twitter, who also posts updates about the show's roaming locations.

Find out more here.

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Hip Hop Pub Quiz

Where: Various locations.

What does it do: Hip-hop geek-offs.

So you fancy testing your smarts at a pub quiz, but the only thing you've studied since school is obscure rappers' Wikipedia pages and the lyrics to 'Juicy'?

There's a place for you, friend. The 'Hip Hop Pub Quiz' will stretch your geeky music knowledge to its absolute limit, as you bid to get your hands on the hallowed champions belt.

Find out more here.


Where: The Juice Club

What does it do: Tailor-made cocktails.

So here's the deal: bring a bottle of booze, plonk it down on the table, and sit back as an on-hand mixologist creates bespoke cocktails just for you and your mates.

Hidden in a tiny, dimly lit basement beneath The Juice Club in the west end, it all amounts to a pretty unique experience. The £20 entrance fee might feel steep, but it covers the costs of all the additional ingredients, and you'll get a fair few drinks out of it (depending on how much alcohol you bring, that is).

Be warned, however: it's not a place for Glenn's vodka. Not even the professionals can make that taste good.

Find out more here.

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Where: Farringdon, Old Street

What does it do: Ping-pong.

Beer pong always sounds like a good idea at first, but let's face it: you don't live in an American Pie film, your hand-eye coordination is toddler-esque, and it's far more enjoyable to just sip a lovely cold pint at a leisurely pace.

Competitive boozy ping-pong on the other hand? Surprisingly fun. And Bounce is one of the best in town, with 14 cheap tables to choose from, as well as a gin palace-style bar to retire to after you somehow manage to twat yourself in the balls with a paddle.

Find out more here.