EACH week Pillow Magazine asks someone from our network of creatives to open up their little black book and reveal the secret side of London that you only know about if you’re in the know.
Name: Leah Band
Job: Full time photographer, part-time DDPP Dalston Hostess
Tell us a bit about DDPP Dalston: Tell us a bit about DDPP Dalston: DDPP Dalston is a freestyle fitness dance class for women. A weekly hour long disco with no boys, no booze, no judgement. You can let go the get go and dance like no-one is watching. It’s a really fun way to get fit without the pressure of instructors or dance routines. Me and my friend Rita organise it weekly and it’s so great to see it becoming popular! I love it, but of course I would say that. It’s very liberating!!
Which area of London do you live in? I just left my long term home in the east to conquer pastures new in, erm, N16. Okay, it’s not that far away!!
Why do you love it? I love Hackney, Bethnal Green, Stoke Newington, you know..the East because, apart from living here for quite a while now (pushing 13 years) and having a great circle of friends, it’s got so much to offer. Lovely houses, lovely parks, more and more cafes and restaurants, art, music.. the lot. It’s close to the city, it’s great to cycle round and there are canals! One might call it “vibrant.”
Top Secret Tips for London Life?
1 – Outdoor swimming. You can’t beat it. London fields lido is the best. Hectic in the summer but brilliant in the winter! Hampstead Ponds like-wise.
2 – Scooter Caffe, Waterloo. Good for dates. There’s a cat. It’s cosy.
3 – Disused Underground Stations. There’s loads of them and I’m a bit of a TFL geek. The Transport Museum sometimes do tours but I’ve been lucky enough to get down the old Aldwych station to do a shoot. I think the tours are few and far between, but worth keeping an eye out for I’m sure.
Best place to have a coffee: Okay, I’ll admit it, I don’t drink coffee. There, I’ve said it. Nonetheless, I do love a good catch up over a cup of tea and there’s loads of places round the area to do just that. Try Wiltons on Wilton Way or Mouse & De Lotz on Shacklewell Lane. Oh! Tina We Salute You does a great breakfast wrap too. Yum! (Dalston/Stoke Newington Way)..
Best place for a great breakfast: Oh, see above. Honestly their breakfast wrap is really good. Bistrotheque’s an old favourite too. Great for brunch with piano accompaniment. And you can’t beat the Pavillion in Victoria Park for lakeside lounging and and al fresco breakfast.
Most amazing place to buy vintage clothes: I’m a bit of a rubbish vintage clothes shopper. I do love finding vintage bric a brac and furniture gems though. There’s this guy who’s often at Princess May Road School carboot on Sundays (Stoke Newington way). He sells really good sets of vintage 60s/70s earthenware. Clothes wise Paper Dress Vintage on Curtain Road is lovely to look around and they put nights on with cocktails, music and dancing too!
Best market: It’s an obvious one, but Broadway Market really is good for food and that handily leads me on and round the corner to Netil Market by Netil House which is great for second hand bits and bobs.
Best quirky/independent cinema: Cinema-wise I tend to stay local. Hackney Picture House is good and I do like the Rich Mix down in Shoreditch. I haven’t actually been to this cinema (http://www.whirledart.co.uk/cinema) but a South London friend had a birthday cinema bash there recently and it sounds pretty cool. Worth a check out.
Best fashion boutique for amazing clothes/jewellery: I really like the knitwear from Antoni & Alison. Jordan Askill and Alex Monroe both do lovely jewellery. I also recently did the SS13 shoot for Brat & Suzie (recent contributor to Pillow!). They do great printed T’s.
Most amazing club night that Pillow Mag readers will love: You stumped me. That’s a tough one. I’ve been to some good full on nights at Netil House in the past year and even braved Shoreditch last Saturday for the first time in a long time. Shore Leave is a rum swigging night of sailor fun that’s worth checking out when it pops up and I do love a good spin on the floor at certain secret Northern Soul nights. When and where, well that’s my secret I’m afraid!
Favourite place for reasonably-priced/mid-price dinner: I recently had a great dinner at Crate Brewery in Hackney Wick. Good pizzas and loads of own brewed beers! Also, really love L’Entrepot in Hackney Downs. Run by the Borough Wines lot, they obviously have a great wine selection and good meals and cheese boards too. Antidote near Carnaby Street is nice if you’re in town. Organic wine and nice meals.
My secret place for cocktails: I’m planning a visit to the Portside Parlour for rum cocktail fun. Otherwise a proper extravagant cocktail hideaway is the Nightjar in Shoreditch. Very impressive (and expensive) cocktails.
Best pub: The Flask in Highgate is nice and the Clapton Hart does a good, reasonably priced Sunday Roast.
Greatest place to check out art/exhibitions: I love the big establishments. You can’t beat The National Portrait Gallery, the V&A and the Tate. I love the late night events and being freelance means I can often get to exhibitions in the week.
My ultimate Secret London recommendation: Come to Dance Dance Party Party Dalston!
Check out DDPPdalston on Facebook and my website too – Leah Band Photography.
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