Where To Go When You Want To Dance But Hate Clubs

For anyone triggered by the sight of Simmons.
Live musicians singing and playing guitar on a stage. A crowd of people dance on the wooden dance floor at the red and green lit Walthamstow Trades Hall.

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

After taking an elbow to the face when the person next to you completely lost it over Tiësto, you've decided clubs aren't for you. It's the gummy floors, it's the queuing in the rain, it's the drinking shots out of test tubes like some kind of experiment to see how much indignity one person can suffer. So that settles it. But just because you don't want to scrub a red stamp off your wrist after a night of regret, doesn't mean you're ready to hang up your dancing shoes. 

Shimmy on for all our favourite restaurants, social clubs, and bars where you can dance without having to navigate a burly bouncer on a power trip. 

If you’re looking for the best bars in London or places where you’re guaranteed a fun dinner, we’ve got you covered.


photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch



$$$$Perfect For:Live MusicCatching Up With MatesDancingBig Groups
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A Friday night at Walthamstow Trades Hall involves spilt pints, 70-odd-year-olds teaming up with 30-somethings to sing karaoke, and a stacked line-up of bands we challenge you not to dance along to. It’s not fancy, and some of the seats and the jazzy carpet have more character than the punters, but this social club is all heart. Come on the weekend with a group who aren’t afraid to make new friends, order a Yard Sale pizza from across the road, and request (and subsequently murder) Bon Jovi’s Livin' On A Prayer.

photo credit: Jumbi



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Jumbi is a cool, slightly secret spot in Peckham that’s open until 2am on weekends. It’s hidden away on an industrial estate behind heavy warehouse doors—and come evening, groups having cigarette breaks spill out into a concrete courtyard that’s more of a scene than any club smoking area. But inside—with its glowing orb lights that give everything a red tinge, twirling disco ball, well-thumbed records, and comforting Trini doubles—is where this Afro-Caribbean spot really comes to life. 

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch



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To the uninitiated, this Austrian cavern in Notting Hill is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it place. The single door on Westbourne Grove is lit only by an enticingly sordid red neon sign and two cowbells below it. But for the initiated, The Tiroler Hut is a raucous night out where fun rather than food comes first. Sure, the beef goulash is mediocre, but who cares when Josef, the elderly owner in lederhosen, is playing the cowbells like he’s on the Pyramid Stage. In fact, don’t be surprised if someone is crowd-surfing by the time the karaoke mic comes out. 

If you have to darken the doors of the signet-ring magnet that is Infernos again, you might cry. So stick to Sweeties—it’s equal parts fun and fancy, but without all the St. Moritz ski trip chat. You take a glass lift up to the 10th floor of The Standard, London hotel and as you rise, King’s Cross’ grey streets, trains, and pigeons melt away. And a fabulous world of super-sized disco balls, sequin jumpsuits, and crushed velvet sofas emerges. Get a No Limits cocktail (lemongrass, fresh ginger, tequila), have a little dance with your group, and drink in the glittering London skyline.

Moko is for those who prefer the odd vintage rug, Scandi-chic hi-fi systems, and sandwiches—cornmeal-fried oyster mushrooms in a soft, sweet bun—to get them in the mood for dancing. Early evenings tend to be more like chilled-out listening parties, where records are plucked from statement tote bags and nodded along to. But later on tables are cleared, bodies are packed in, and the real dancing starts. The focal point at this African-Caribbean music bar and restaurant in Tottenham is always the curved, solid oak DJ booth that’s stacked with thousands of records and suspended from the ceiling. 

If clubs are impersonal, sticky-floored sweatboxes, Diddy’s is the anti-club. There’s a basement-level ‘pink’ room which is covered in sateen, shimmering fabrics, and cackling friends who may or may not be wearing feather boas. On winter nights it’s like a house party, on summer nights it’s like a block party, and by your third visit the bar staff at this Mare Street spot will most likely know your name. Plus, the drinks are strong and reasonably priced. 

As the clock strikes 10pm at the weekend, Buster Mantis transforms from its early evening guise as a chilled Caribbean restaurant into a proper south east London party. Groups, who know this is the time that tables are cleared and a DJ takes the decks, start flowing through the doors of the Deptford railway arch. Cans of Red Stripe hiss as they’re cracked open around the room and the bassline of afrobeats sets the pace until the early hours.

Wandering into Sporting Clube De Londres on a Friday night feels like crashing the peak hours of a stranger’s wedding—only one where you’re welcomed with gluggable vinho verde and plates of just-grilled sardines, and passed the karaoke mic. The Portuguese canteen in Notting Hill is a fun-loving and welcome escape from formality and curated vibes. Disco lights orbit the room while Aretha Franklin is belted out, and friends and family sway in and out of rhythm. If dancing isn’t your thing, you can always pitch up by the fruit machines with a cold pint and a bowl of piping hot chips.

Come Friday and Saturday, the tables at Bambi are cleared after service and DJs spin centrist house music until 1am, with the sake and pickle juice martinis going down with ease. The London Fields wine bar knows what it’s doing—a funky bottle list, a counter-cum-DJ-booth, bowls of chips and aioli—and it does it satisfyingly well. Of course, you can come here for a full meal, too. A booking at 9pm (on the cusp of dinner-to-DJ service) is a smart move, and lining your stomach with oysters and burrata (before investigating the extensive martini menu) is something we’d highly recommend.

During the day, this Lebanese restaurant and shisha cafe in Harlesden is a tranquil spot where families come for a spread of chewy za’atar-topped manakeesh and scoops of labneh alongside tea. But come Friday and Saturday night, a live singer starts from 10pm and plays until after midnight, walking around the room with his microphone, pointing it at anyone who's singing along enthusiastically. It’s the kind of place where half the table can be sat down humming along while the other half is up on the stage, doing dabke around the live band.

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