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Dance through the decades: London's best retro bars and club nights

September 2013

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With its thriving vintage scene and love of all things period, London's nightlife has something for every era. Gabriella Jeakins rounds up the city's best retro venues and nights
The Eighties-tastic Madonna Booth at Maggie's

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The Nightjar
Its basement location and stunning vintage décor give Nightjar all the glamour of a 1920s speakeasy. Prohibition-themed cocktails and vintage spirits, combined with regular live jazz and swing music certainly have the crowds roaring. Drinks International even voted it the third best bar in the world in 2012.


Based on the world famous El Floridita in Havana, this Soho bar emulates 1930s Cuba by serving up Latin American-style food and a Daquiri-heavy cocktail menu (the drink was invented at the original). For cigar lovers, it also has its own cigar menu and humidor. A live music programme including authentic Cuban bands adds to Floridita's traditional Latin vibe and, with at least two acts every evening, it's a fantastic venue to dance the night away.


The Blitz Party
Hurry down to the air raid shelter at Village Underground in Shoreditch for these regular Second World War-themed parties, organized cutting edge events team Bourne & Hollingsworth. Guys in army uniforms and girls in tea dresses and stockings dance the night away to live swing bands and drink cocktails out of enamel mugs and jam jars under the glow of authentic 1940s newsreels. It's the place to be for a great vintage night out and some old-fashioned wartime community spirit.


Shake, Rattle and Bowl
Every Saturday at All Star Lanes in Holborn, this unique club night takes advantage of the venue's 50s-style diner and bowling lanes for an evening of retro music and cocktails. All Star is retro-tastic on any night of the week, with its diner booths and pin up girls on the walls, but on Saturdays many guests dress to match its style. Fantastic fun — and free entry.


Great Big Kiss @ Buffalo Bar
This monthly club night celebrates the sounds of the Sixties, playing a variety of music genres including soul, Motown and pop, all on vinyl. Some dress in vintage to match the theme, but everyone is there for the music. The homely basement of Buffalo Bar makes this event feel like an authentic 60s night out. You have to be serious about your Sixties and register as a member to get in.


New to London this summer, this Soho club celebrates the disco movement from its birth in 70s Manhattan up to the present day. You'll find plenty here to take you back to when Disco began, from a Pan-Am style check-in desk complete with luggage belt to cocktails served in disco balls. Even the DJ booth is in a giant disco ball.


There are plenty of Eighties nights around, but it's hard to find anything quite like Maggie's. As well as the music of the era, this unique club is stuffed with retro memorabilia and the giant Rubik's cube tables and graffiti style wall paintings will take anyone back to their 80s childhood. The club's namesake Maggie Thatcher is omnipresent — her speeches are even played in the loos.


Back to the 90s at Veranda
Veranda is a trendy Caribbean cocktail bar and art gallery in Brixton that transforms into a club by night, and brings back the 90s charts every last Friday of the month. Get down to fantastic anthems mixed by a Choice FM DJ while you sip on a cocktail from their ample menu. 

Central image: Guests jitterbug at The Blitz Party. 

Grabbing a bite first? Find our London restaurant reviews here.


Posted by Gabriella Jeakins


London-blog, nightlife, clubs, bars

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