It’s a real challenge to pick a single favourite place in the entire city of London. However, when Eventbrite launched their Hometown Hunt project, I was ready to take on the challenge of picking just one spot that sums up my 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 I had to think long and hard about which of my favourite places I would share with them. In the end, I opted for a little place in Battersea called The Doodle Bar.
Battersea has been close to my heart since last year, when I held the 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 I obviously 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 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. I 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.
I also 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 you can get creative with the chalkboards, drink tasty cocktails and chow down with my friends at Italian Supper Club and other great foodie projects. My 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.
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 me here. Fun fact: the signature cocktails I enjoy so much are usually pretty loaded with Dodd’s gin, brewed at the London Distillery Company right next door.
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 me happy. My personal picks include 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 my favourite London spots must end on a sorrowful note. After many years at 33 Parkgate Road, SW11 4NP, the building is going 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 me, 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 in a new location 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 I’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