Top 10 Spots: Black Love in London

Contributor: Dinan Saeed (@dinan249)

Integrating black culture in England hasn’t been a straightforward feat for many generations. The ‘70s and ‘80s were riddled with racism and exclusion and the phrase ‘Black British’ wasn’t as common as it is today.

Recently, however, a black culture that is unique to London is evolving in newer generations and becoming widely recognized. Not surprisingly, since the black race has never been a monolith, it is quite a diverse culture. The beauty of it comes from the fact that black Londoners possess a dual-identity, so their British heritage and their family’s cultural legacy both share the table, adding their own twist to the British identity and not simply blending in. The black community in London, especially the young, are now becoming more aware of how important it is to rightfully claim their legacy and heritage.

Despite these positive changes, the challenges of having a love life in London often leads to the feeling of being overlooked and invisible, which is a common fear that people of colour from all walks of life share – especially black women. There’s often the dilemma of being interested in those who don’t see you, or not being interested in those who are, or struggling to find someone who relates to your experience. 

Being able to love yourself and be loved without feeling the need to alter your appearance or mannerisms is something we want for all of you. You’ve just had your hair done and you’re ready to explore new places – so here are the top ten places in London we think you’re most likely to find people who will relate to your experience and see the beauty that is your blackness. Even if you don’t find your soul mate, you’re sure to have a good time!


1.       Pen-Ting - an open mic night:

A monthly open mic event founded by SKY GOD and The Repeat Beat Poet that takes place every third Thursday of every month at SET Arts Centre, Dalston. It brings the good vibes, poetry and politics! Performances include hip-hop, politics and speaking truth to power. Pen-Ting is a community event that believes that art is a powerful means of communication, understanding and education.

It has previously featured poets and lyricists including Roger Robinson (Peepal Tree Press), Roundhouse Slam Champions Rakaya Fetuga and Kareem Parkins-Brown, Otis Mensah (Sheffield Poet Laureate) and Birdspeed (Hammer & Tongue & BBC Slam Champion).


2.       Trapeze

Located in Shoreditch, Trapeze is a themed bar that has a very creative cocktail list on the ground floor with a delicious menu and wonderful party, while downstairs every weekend some of London’s best promoters and DJs are hosted on a great sound system. It is inspired by one of the UK’s oldest circus schools – National Centre for Circus Arts, which is based very close to Trapeze. It is a vibrant experience and offers food, drink, music and entertainment.


3.       Buster Mantis

A bar located down a little alleyway just off Deptford High Street, South London, spread over two railway arches underneath the Deptford Rail Station platforms. One arch is a bar, café and eatery, while the other is a gallery and creative space that hosts regular events, art exhibitions and screenings. It started out as small weekly jam sessions, but Wednesdays at Buster Mantis have grown into some of London’s most intriguing jazz nights that often feature fresh talents.

Buster Mantis takes its name from the first prime minister of Jamaica, Sir Alexander Bustamante, who was instrumental in establishing the country's independence. It is a small, independent family business, whose owners have lived between Jamaica and the Deptford area for the last 60 years. They opened Buster Mantis simply to add to the small but resurgent list of nice places to drink in Deptford.


4.       Pxssy Palace

A club known for promoting a safe space culture at their events and festivals that prioritise and are centred on womxn, femmes of colour, queer, trans and intersex people of color.


5.       Carnival

The Notting Hill Carnival is an annual event that has taken place in London since 1966 on the streets of Notting Hill over two days in August. It’s a huge street festival that attracts around 2.5 million people every year and highlights Caribbean and black diasporic cultures. It is led by members of the British West Indian community and is a significant event in Black British culture. In 2020, it was set to start on the 30th of August, but with the COVID-19 situation it is unclear if it is still going to happen.


6.       The Bat & Ball

The best, liveliest and largest bar in Westfield. It is spread across two huge floors and home to 10 professional-sized ping pong tables. A haven for fans of craft beer, wine, cocktails and all things ping pong, which includes 10 championship tables and a pool table in the Upstairs Games Hall, regular weekend DJs, and big screens aplenty so you’ll never miss a sporting event!

If you fancy some privacy, the ‘Heineken Arena’ is a perfect spot for groups of 10-40 people to party the night away.


7.       Reggaeoke

The home of London’s popular and lively reggae, bashment, dancehall, lovers rock and soca karaoke events since 2014. It provides a place to free up, sing out and enjoy yourself. With fun and fiery Host Jay9 and DJ Dazzla, expect a high energy sing and dance-along. It offers a unique song selection that includes artists like – Beres Hammond, Tarrus Riley, Barrington Levy, Vybz Kartel and Mr Vegas and with a dash of lover’s rock and soca for more vibes.

Their stage is ready for you to fling down and unleash your inner Caribbean artist!


8.       Faded

London’s home of Hip Hop and RnB – Faded has been going strong since it started in March 2012. Its three principles are simple: good music, good people and good vibes. They throw wonderful Hip Hop & RnB nights, not only in and around the capital but also internationally, having held events in Netherlands, Croatia, Spain, Barcelona and Germany.


9.       Hip Hop Karaoke

The UK’s original hip hop karaoke is on every Thursday.

Think you’re the next Snoop Dogg or Nicki Minaj and hoping to get scouted? Step up and showcase your talent on the mic at Central London’s The Social. The best rappers get free beer and prizes!


10.       Got Soul

Got Soul Events curate premier events for the grown and creative, against a backdrop of music for the connoisseur.

Primarily known for Got Soul Sundays, London's only weekly neo-soul lounge, is now in its fifth year. Got Soul Events continues to meet the needs of Londoners - and visitors from overseas - seeking social environments outside of club nights. With guest DJs on rotation each week, the vibe is always fresh, chilled and fun.