Aloha Bethnal Green

I feel that we don’t get nearly enough opportunities these days to go around in Hawaiian shirts. So I was pleased yesterday to be invited to a retro-beach-themed party in Bethnal Green for a friend of mine whom I have known since we were both about that high (you should hold your hand about three feet from the ground at this point). He’s also a journalist, so he’d probably record this thing a lot better than I could. Unfortunately, he’s off to Australia, as seems to be the fashion these days, so this was a send-off.

The venue was the Working Men’s Club in Bethnal Green. We arrived earlyish (about half nine), when things were, it has to be said, pretty dead. You know the score. No queue at the bar, tables easy to find, only one person on the dance floor who can’t be faulted for their enthusiasm. But once things got going, and it became clear that I wasn’t going to be the only person there who’d bothered to dress up, it really started to liven up.

The evening went by the title of “Teen Bop”, with a sort of 50s/60s surf theme – lots of Hawaiian shirts, straw porkpie hats and beehive hairdos. The music was appropriate for the occasion, with the Sundae Kups providing a fine selection of “rock and roll” to get the “joint jumping” as the “teen agers” say these days.

The Sundae Kups doing what they do best, unless this is a sideline and they're all like really superb architects or something and that's their main job.

The Sundae Kups doing what they do best, unless this is a sideline and they're all like really superb architects or something and that's their main job.

I have come to realise that my right knee is the partying-est part of my body. At these nights, for some reason, my right knee always wants to dance. It seems to be a subconscious thing. The rest of me usually has to have about three pints before I lost my inhibitions enough to haul myself on to the dance floor and hurl myself around in the style of a man possessed by demons.

Now, I must confess that I don’t really know Bethnal Green. I’ve managed to largely avoid the East End hipster movement, rarely getting out further than Shoreditch in the pursuit of good times. So when I left, I thought, in my bleary half-asleepness, that it would be interesting to try to get back into the City on foot. It’s a process I call “knitting”, whereby I contextualise a new place by walking from it to somewhere I’m familiar with. It’s not very clever to do it at half one in the morning, particularly with 1950s-style shoes that are great for grooving in but not designed for long-distance walking.

Anyway, turns out it’s quite a long walk from Bethnal Green to the City, particularly if you don’t know your way and are drunk. An important lesson for us all there. Still, I think I’d like to explore the area a bit more when I’m less shattered/more sober/have slept a bit. I finished my journey at Aldwych, from which the night buses for Tooting and Colliers Wood depart.

I took the N155, as it arrived first. I don’t know why. I hate the N155. It’s slow and crowded and passes through some of the scuzziest parts of South West London, and there’s always a group of jackasses on the top deck who are incapable of communicating at anything less than a bellow. Plus there’s always someone who tries to pile on via the centre door without paying for a ticket in the mistaken belief that they’re the first person to try this. The N44 is much quicker and less crowded, and the only disadvantage it has is that it doesn’t go all the way to Colliers Wood (oh no! I’ll have to walk a full ten minutes!).

Then I got home and was bitten by a spider that had somehow taken up residence in my pyjamas. I’d been reading an article about the long gestation process of the Spider-Man movie on the bus, so a part of me was hoping the spider would turn out to be radioactive. It seems not.

Further Reading – The Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club. More fun than its name makes it sound. – The Sundae Kups, for music that is far out. – This is where we were.


1 Comment

Filed under Booze, East End and Docklands, London, Psychogeography, Transport

One response to “Aloha Bethnal Green

  1. Pingback: Wonderful world, beautiful people | London Particulars

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