It’s a real challenge to pick a single favourite place in our hometown of London. After all, we visit all kinds of studios, shops and stages and love most of them so much that we write about them in out VISIT posts. However, when Eventbrite launched their Hometown Hunt project, we were ready to take on the challenge of picking just one spot that sums up our love for London. Eventbrite are pretty much your go-to for discovering fresh venues, staging your own events and sorting tickets for any number of experiences. They share some fantastic secrets on where, when and how to enjoy your city so we had to think long and hard about which of our favourite places we were going to share with them. When it comes to celebrating and supporting creatives there are plenty of haunts that we think do the job particularly well, but in the end we opted for a little place in Battersea called The Doodle Bar.
Why did we go for somewhere so southerly and far from the hustle and bustle of the places we usually hang out in east London? Well, Battersea has been close to our hearts since last year when we held our first YOUNG GOLD TEETH exhibition there. It also plays host to some awesome independent shops and eateries, a vast power station that houses anything from gigs and food festivals to fashion shows and exhibitions, and the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, which we think is awesome.
Back in 2008, several businesses moved out of a Victorian dairy warehouse in the Battersea area making way for a weekend pop-up called The Doodle Bar to move in. Walls were knocked down, a bar was built and furniture was brought in from wherever the team could find it. In 2010 the bar became official. Set against the backdrop of TESTBED1, a dramatic, creative and experimental arts space, created by world-renowned architect Will Alsop, these days, the bar is a hub for creative expression, unique events, collaborations and much more. We love it. From the huge chalkboards, niche spaces, street food, creative neighboring businesses and workshops, film nights and live music events there’s always so much going on here.
We really dig TESTBED1, the huge warehouse space where anything from exhibitions, concerts and weddings to huge parties and talks take place. At the weekends, it’s open to visitors, filled with colorful lights and the pingpong tables make an appearance too. The Doodle Bar itself is the centre of the whole site and it’s here that we get creative with the chalkboards, drink tasty cocktails and chow down with our friends Italian Supper Club and other great foodie projects. Our favourite part of the venue, however, has to be The beach. A colourful outdoor terrace alive with greenery that overlooks Ransome’s Dock, this spot cements the venue as one of the best haunts in the city. We head here for street food and live music on Thursdays.
Creative community is an important aspect of what YGT is all about. In our opinion, surrounding yourself with likeminded individuals, collectives and companies is conducive to inspiring plans and great projects. It’s because of this ethos that we really love hanging out at The Doodle Bar. Neighboured on all sides by creative organisations, the venue is part of a greater hive of unique activity. The Doodle family is comprised of the likes of creative agency and production company Doodle Productions, run by illustrator and founder Serge Seidlitz, Okido Magazine, All Design and Squint Opera. Sponsored and supported by the likes of the RCA and Vivienne Westwood, an ever-growing community of artists, animators, illustrators, musicians, film-makers and performers can usually be found enjoying a drink with us here. Fun fact: the signature cocktails we enjoy so much are usually pretty loaded with Dodd’s gin, brewed at the London Distillery Company right next door.
So by now you know that we’re pretty big fans of this spot, but we were interested to discover what makes The Doodle Bar special for the people who work there. We asked the folks who run the venue what they love most about being based in London, and they said, ‘We love being located right by the Thames and leafy Battersea Park. There is a real nest of creative activity happening around here and we enjoy being at the centre of it. Our customers are the local residents, the local workforce – many of whom are in the creative industries; Vivienne Westwood, RCA , Various advertising agencies, Foster & Partners Architects, Beckham Ventures and TIGI Hair. It’s a real mix.’
The collaborations and new events keep rolling at this venue so there’s plenty to fill your calendar with. From Dockside Dinners featuring tonnes of specialist cuisines (our tip is to check out Crayfish Bob’s night for the full Louisiana experience with crayfish racing and live Cajun and blues music) to printing and dyeing workshops and talks with Vivienne Westwood and Bill Harkin, everything these guys put on makes us happy. Our personal picks are the Life Drawing sessions on the first Monday of the month and Spanish Film Night on the first Tuesday, both a treat if you fancy doing something a little different with your evening.
Sadly, this jubilant celebration of one of our favourite London spots must end on a sorrowful note. After many years at 33 Parkgate Road, SW11 4NP, the building is soon to be redeveloped. Like all great places in the city, The Doodle Bar’s spot in Battersea can’t endure forever and the family is soon to move on to a newer home. With the building due to be demolished next year, it’s important to us, and to the Doodle Bar team that you visit at least once before Christmas to say hello and goodbye to the awesome space that we love so dearly. The Doodle Bar and TESTBED1 will return next year but in the meantime, keep an eye on their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for news about the move. Find out about events via the mailing list and we’ll see you there for a signature Doodle Beer, a spot of chalkboard scribbling and a chilled one on The Beach.
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Words: Emily Beeson | @younggoldteeth