Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Smokefree Music Venues in London

OK, there's a few choices for people in London who want to see live music but don't want to stand in the smoke. I find gigs particularly bad on second hand smoke as they're often packed and smoking still seems to be largely accepted. I just want to see the show and the smoke often spoils it for me, if i bother to turn up at all. I've really cut down on gig going because of this, they're just such unhealthy environments unfortunately. I have excellent earplugs that make me hear clearly while controlling often dangerous volume levels, but I can't turn up in an oxygen mask as well, as someone helpfully suggested. When we were in NYC in Dec 2004 we saw three shows in a row at Irving Plaza and I wouldn't have lasted if smoking would have been allowed there. To me, cigarettes and rock'n'roll (or whatever you might like to call it) just don't go together like for some people. It's such a (dangerous) cliche. Anyway, there's some choices now, and with the smoking ban due next year there's something on the horizon too:

The Roundhouse in Camden: it's completely smokefree inside the venue, there's a large outdoor terrace for smokers. It's a legendary venue in a former rail depot, hosted many famous shows in the 60s and in the punk era, was supposed to become a library at some stage, but recently reopened after an extensive facelift and now hosts gigs, theatre, dance and other things :


The South Bank: The Royal Festival Hall is being refurbished right now but Queen Elizabeth Hall (& the Purcell Room), right next to it, is still open, the whole building is now non smoking, including the foyer bar, (open to the public every day til 10 pm) that also sometimes hosts free gigs, there's a small stage there. The great thing about the South Bank is that they sometimes host really eclectic, unusual gigs, occasionally really big rock acts too, in a fairly uncommercial, informal, and *smokefree* environment, not as stuffy and conservative as one might suspect(Same goes for the Barbican too):


Bush Hall: small old music hall in Shepherd's Bush. The concert space is completely non smoking and there are very visible signs everywhere advising punters of this. The front bar is smoking, but it's separated from the concert hall. Really great little place, beautiful ornate ceilings with chandeliers, very different to usual music venues. Last time I was there, for the great Yo La Tengo, it was a sold out all-standing show and noone smoked! I should go there more often...


I hear the (new) Vortex in Dalston is non smoking too, famous for hosting jazz concerts, we used to go to the old one in Stoke Newington quite a bit for Keith Tippett (and that scene) etc concerts, but it was always smokey in there, time to go back and check out the new venue:

http://www.vortexja zz.co.uk/

I've read this on a blog, The Inn on the Green in Ladbroke Grove is apparently a smoke-free venue/club. I haven't been there but it sounds interesting:

Inn on the Green 3 Thorpe Close
Ladbroke Grove London W10

Union Chapel: old church with a beautiful round interior in Islington, quite a famous venue, recently reopened after some time. You sit in church benches and you have to leave the church to go to the bar where you can smoke. Great Syd Barrett tribute the other day (see below)

That's all I can think of right now, but there are probably a few more. Anyone want to comment/ add anything?

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