Dalston, London.
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Includes: Kingsland, Hackney Wick.

Amazing what a few years can do. In 2004, indie rock band Razorlight’s debut album included the track “Don’t Go Back to Dalston,” and at the time few would deny the area didn’t deserve the popular – albeit unofficial – description as the “arse-end of London.”

Briefly a major hub for African American music in the 60s, during which time a small but popular collection of venues attracted big-name performers like Bob Marley and Stevie Wonder, Dalston received little attention after the flower-power era came to a close. Around 2009, however, an influx of pricey loft apartments, fashionable clothiers, eclectic cafés, and scads of new bars and clubs began moving in, buoyed in large part by a new railway station serving the neighborhood.

Although only the art deco Rio Cinema remains from the neighborhood’s entertainment heyday, the erection of pop-ups in abandoned 60s-era venues and several brand new live performance spaces make Dalston more desirable than ever for young partiers and edgy celebs who want to rage or rave until the sun comes up.

Vortex Jazz Club packs in the astute beboppers, Arcola Theatre makes sure everyone gets their fringe movie fix (and a cocktail to go with it), and a large Turkish community makes the area one of the best spots in town to grab a kebab and a hot Turkish bath.

Despite its resurgence, the neighborhood still clings proudly to its earthiness – a spirit that is front and center at the daily Ridley Road Market just off the main shopping drag of Kingsland High Street, which flourishes with cheap fruit and vegetables, Caribbean produce and wares, and even a 24-hour bagel bakery.

Crime is still an issue in parts of Dalston, but there’s little indication that the recent flood of hipsters and yuppies will recede anytime soon, making it a perfect spot for people who don’t mind a little grime with their glitz – as well as the other way around.


Where to Go in Dalston

  • * The Alibi 18 and over / 20s / 30s / 90s Music
  • * Cafe OTO 20s / Alternative / Alternative

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