My London / The Shacklewell Arms
First, it is its popularity juxtaposed with location. Squeezed behind the bend on Shacklewell Lane, somewhere between the shanky estates of Hackney and the vibrant hipster nightlife of Dalston you’d expect the SA to be infested with lonely old men with bloodshot eyes. Astoundingly, the place is always packed with pleasant, trendy young people.
As you enter the venue, you get instantly hit by the warm, damp waft bringing to mind your nan’s basement. The front welcomes you with the bar, cool bar staff and most obviously… 80’s arcade games, which haven’t shown me any proof of vitality. Venturing deeper into this catacomb of a venue you discover the live room at the back catering for about 200 people. It features one of the most bizarre stages in London – tiny and embellished with alien arches covered with incomprehensible frescos, dividing the stage in two and creating a secret little cave for the drummer at the back. Finally there is also a beer garden – vast, welcoming and bringing to mind your nan’s backyard - perfect to chill out when the music gets too much.
The most important thing about the Shacklewell Arms is perhaps the infinitely eclectic mix of music that it offers. It never fails to showcase the coolest up and coming bands before the rest of the world caches up. Aside from live gigs it also hosts club nights and after parties, not excluding any genre known to man, and members of various popular bands can often be spotted partying under its damp, frescoed roof.
Aside from being a reliable music venue, the SA also offers an impressive food menu and great deals. Following the tradition of English pub cuisine it serves Pie & Mash and great Sunday Roasts to cure your hangover. You can also taste some traditional North American cuisine in the form of Hank’s gourmet hot dogs.
Overall, the Shacklewell Arms is the ultimate venue according to East London standards. It serves cool music, trustworthy food and good vibes. The only problem with it is that this humid smell kinda gets into your hair and clothes a bit if you spend the whole night there, but hey, that makes you #authentic.