My favourite London clubs and bars: Birthdays

From the beginning I knew one day I’ll just get this overwhelming feeling, stand up while Lana Del Rey’s song is playing, drop my glass of red dry Tesco Finest on the Ikea carpet and whisper to myself: oh baby, oh baby, I’m in love, then start writing a post.

I’m not in love, thank god. It’s just a dramatic intro.

I love discovering new places, and even though I currently live in Glasgow, I don’t know much about the city and its unexplored corners… And I want to be honest with you guys, just like 18 year old boy is honest about his first chlamydia with a nurse at the sexual clinic in Archway. That’s why today I’d like to present you with one of my favourite London bars. Because I’m a drinker first, and a human being second. And also because half of my time in the capital I had spent out, living my 2007 Paris Hilton Wannabe life, and I feel like I have a responsibility to educate…

In my first post I have mentioned some misconceptions polish people have about London, and United Kingdom in general. Not gonna lie babes, I thought I’m gonna get outta National Express in vintage Prada sunglasses and just naturally receive all of them invitations to Kensington and Chelsea clubs, I’m gonna twerk with Toff while “Good Time” by Paris Hilton is playing.

But that wasn’t the case. You walk down the Westminster Bridge and motherfucking Evening Standard that someone dropped on the pavement hits you straight in your face. Shortly after you get asked by Japanese tourists to take a series of pictures of them with London Eye in the background. On the bus you sit between a guy who would marry his Kebab if that was legal and someone who smells like vodka from 5 New Year Eves ago that someone forgot about.

After surviving the day, long shift, hour or two on the bus/tube to wherever-in-zone-ten-you-live, you go on social media and connect with your friends. Most of them are skint, lazy, busy consuming their new lover’s body parts or writing an essay on how e-learning influences small businesses. But don’t give up, you warrior! There will always be one who’s getting over a breakup and needs to lose any leftovers of self respect on the dance floor in Heaven on Monday night, or a mate that just bought new Balenciagas and needs someone to take pictures. And what’s better for that than a night out? Let’s go places together and pretend we can afford that!

Birthdays

Dalston, East London. A place where you are likely to see young children stealing sandwiches from Tesco, hear gunshots, and just one moment later – notice extravagant Millennials wearing Alexander McQueen, vintage Burberry and, of course, Champion. Don’t want to be a hypocrite, I bought many things in this designer second hand they have there(Storm in a Tea Cup it is called) in my time, just struggle to cope with wealthy and bored taking over literally every single poor neighbourhood in the country.

The mechanism is simple. Certain people need certain places in areas they live in. Together with hordes of alternative people coming in, new places open. Dalston Superstore is a perfect example of an overhyped, claustrophobic shithole that’s being a response to what local community wants.

It’s a place where youthful crowd drinks Espresso Martinis, talks bullshit like: have you seen that collaboration between Gosha Rubchinskiy and Palace? or I’m thinking about squatting, to save money and go travelling, to like, I don’t know, Kosovo? What do you think?

Not my vibes. But just a two minute walk down the road, there’s a place called Birthdays, which probably is my favourite London bar. Funny enough, every single time I was there, at some point of the night I’m a slave 4 U by the one and only queen Britney Spears came on. It’s a place to be, then!

First time I ended up there, me and my friend met this amazing Italian bartender, probably the friendliest and most fun to be around bartender I have ever met. And she does great cocktails too, even though she has no clue how to make them… Later that night, my friend Ruby convinced a group of STRANGERS they should buy us alcohol and we will let them make an after party in our flat. Struggle was real.

That place reminds me of the best nights: handsome lads smoking outside, great music, my embarrassing conversations with staff. I organised my leaving party there, and I can only say one thing. When you wake up and your bank balance says £2.14 – it means something. I can’t think of a single person that wouldn’t want to go Birthdays and just for once – sit down comfortably without looking for a free seat for forty five minutes.

What’s with this whole difficult partying culture? Especially in London, people are going out to particular clubs just for the sake of being there among everyone else. Spending valuable time with people you sleep with for money like, friends, even workmates, stopped being relevant, or at least disappeared from the front row of priorities.

After an afternoon filled with posting stuff about how epic tonight is going to be, we then spend fifteen minutes in the queue trying to buy drinks, twenty trying to use a toilet, forty waiting for people to go the fuck home so we can have our sits back after a fag break… fabric, Heaven, G-A-Y Bar, Dalston Superstore, Friday, Saturday… it’s all like Madonna – a never ending story.

See you in Birthdays! No matter if you’re a fan of cocktails or just want a cheap lager, if you want to sit down and talk about Drag Race and your manager being a dick or dance in the club downstairs – we’ll have fun there.

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Equality, feminism, gender roles… My thoughts on Amy Schumer and her new film “I feel pretty”

Amy Schumer is probably the most hated stand up comedian on the planet. Constantly criticised in America for her controversial jokes and topics she likes to choose for her TV and stand up content, but somehow still influential and loved by lots of famous people in the perfect world of showbiz, glitter and NYC penthouses. I’ve heard her Netflix special was the first one ever to receive a one star rating from the viewers. Well, I admit that her performance in that one didn’t set my knickers on fire, no fire brigade was called to Shettleston while watching, but the general reception of her work still surprises me. In a bad way though, as it shows how much more we have to learn in a modern society.

For those who are not familiar, Amy jokes about her vagina, periods, sex life, relationships with men and other widely known but not spoken about awkward topics. It’s Friday night. Legions of young Americans, armed with alcoholic beverages, ice cream, french fries, whatever, can’t wait to see Beyonce performing on TV. Their heart rate influenced by tons of Diet Coke, peri peri wraps from nearby BBQueen Grill restaurant and Beyoncé’s empowering lyrics and soul lifting dance moves is faster than bullets of their guns they can legally purchase after turning 18. Beyonce is so amazing, so empowering, such a great example for young girls, black women, people of colour – that’s something most of people would say. I like Beyoncé too. She’s an exceptional performer, her songs are great and I love singing along to Love on Top after eleven £3.30 vodka sodas at 2:31 AM.

I just don’t understand how one performer can dance provocatively, sing about sex and use curse words and everyone including Obamas, Oprah, middle aged housewives and white millennials with student loans bigger than Beyonce’s career itself go crazy, when the other is being called unfunny and trash. But Tom, she’s just not funny, that’s all. Ok, but come on, let’s get real – when you don’t enjoy something, you just change the channel or do something else with your time – go shopping, go to the gym, fold trousers, yodel at Walmart… but some people, quite a lot, choose to make “Amy Schumer cringe compilations” and post them on YouTube.

Recently, I met one guy from the States and invited him to come over. We had a chat about differences between American and British TV, especially chat shows. I told him how much I love Graham Norton, where celebrities, just like us normal people, can have a drink and swear a little bit. In America even word “swallow” has to be beeped out, as it might be taken in wrong way. At least that’s how that boy explained it. When asked about Amy Schumer, he said: It’s just… tasteless. For a woman to talk like that, joke like that.

It’s 2018. We stand together for gender equality and at the same time chick from Long Island joking about a stranger going down on her being a hero is an issue for us? I work in a shop and every day I see guys literally scratching their balls in public, talking about girls in an objectifying way. But boys will be boys I guess, just like haters gonna hate or something. Unless we change the way we raise them, together with the way we raise girls. Hopefully your daughters will be able to say whatever they want to say – without being judged as women.

Today I had a chance to attend a pre-screening of Amy’s new movie I Feel Pretty (in cinemas May 4) somewhere in Odeon outside Glasgow City Centre. I won’t tell you where exactly because during the journey I was too busy pretending I’m Ariana Grande while her new song was playing, and I didn’t pay attention to the road.

If you feel like I’m kinda right, but at the same time don’t like explicit and vulgar humour – you should give Amy Schumer a chance and go see her new movie. I feel pretty is a HardSwearingAndDirectSexualTermsAndReferences-free comedy about a girl named Renee.

NYC based girl works in some shitty office, lives in one of those you can do better hun apartments and struggles with low self esteem. Living in the world full of perfect people while having a few extra lbs/kgs to cuddle can, indeed, be quite depressing. In order to become someone, she joins this gym nearby. What happens there? She suffers head injury after falling down from this bicycle thing. That’s why you’ll never see me at the gym. I’m fine with my 56 kilograms, thank you.

But wow, she hits her head really hard and suddenly starts seeing herself as a new person, hot as a supermodel, even though she, obviously, hasn’t changed at all. Extra (ridiculous and psychotic) confidence boost opens a lot of new doors for her. Except for talking to a stranger she met in the queue at Dry Cleaners, forcing him to ask her out and making him fall in love with her, she also proves that with enough confidence you can be like Beyoncé too! Despite being far from typical canons of beauty, Renee gets a job at one of the leading beauty companies and starts hanging out with them pretty girls.

I don’t feel like it’s my job to describe this film to you. That’s what Google and Wikipedia are for. I’m writing this to share my point of view on something I consider very important.

People were laughing. I tend to sit down with a bottle glass of wine after work, watch Amy’s comedy and post some on my Instagram story. I always get replies: omg she’s so unfunny. And suddenly I’m there sitting around all these people who are outside of ideological YouTube comment section battle, and hear them laugh.

Maybe Schumer chilled with using very explicit language and humour in this one, but there’s one thing this film and her stand up have in common – incredibly funny self-body shaming. Doesn’t sound good, but is good and can do good for you.

As soon as we understand what’s wrong with us and turn it into a joke – everything seems easier. Because nobody’s flawless. Well, maybe Beyonce…

5 things I hated while living in London.

I remember when I was seven, I had my first English lesson in Poland, in school. We learned how to introduce ourselves to others and say words apple and pear in English. Seems pretty basic, I know, but trust me. Just few weeks and shit got real. We were translating Dido’s song “Thank you”, together with our teacher. Verse by verse, where she sings she had too much to drink and doesn’t want to get out of her bed at all. None of us had a clue what the songs was about. That’s long years before first heartaches, friendzones and flirting with guys in tracksuits.

Another lesson I remember was a dialogue scene between two people, who randomly jumped into each other on the streets of London. That felt so ridiculous! Maybe we were seven, but we all knew that if people talk like that for real, somewhere, anywhere, something must be wrong with them.

“John, what a surprise! We should meet for a cup of tea and a biscuit!!!!” 

We were told since little kids that London is a city of red phone boxes and white townhouses. People are happy there, eating biscuits, drinking tea and living their happy lives. And if we learn English we can get a chance one day.

When I was 18, I worked with this somehow annoying girl. She was so nice, but I’m sorry, at the same time so trash…! She was obsessed with London, talking about it all the time. Oh my god, bitch, just book the Ryanair and go. Do you need personal hotspot or what? Every few days there was new picture of London taken from Google images that she would post on her Facebook. She would listen to the most cliche British rock music and walk around being so proud.

I always liked Britain very much too, but not as much as her. When I told everyone I’m leaving, many people replied saying, oh, *she* will be so jealous. If all she can do is post shitty stock images, then she’s going to be stuck in her dream forever.

But London, to my surprise, didn’t meet the expectations. At least not in full. White townhouses are only in SW1. What a shame. I thought I’d live in one… well…

I quickly fixed my mascara in the bathroom, because life is just a classroom, and got over it. But then started discovering more and more cracks in that ceiling. Here are some of my (least?) favourite surprises that no one ever told me about.

1. Standard of living + broken flats costing fortune

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I’m from Poland. You guys know we don’t have millions hidden under the sink. That’s why it’s a lot of us everywhere. That’s why from, well, one of the most desirable cities on the planet I expected an upgrade, not downgrade. In Poland it’s not a lifetime achievement to have a living room in your flat, sofa to sit on, basic furniture or even a TV. In London? If I could get a pound everytime I saw mould in someone’s flat, there would be no children starvation on Earth by now.

Many times I spoke to someone on Grindr(for those who don’t know, it’s like Facebook for gay people…) who seemed nice, with profile picture taken at the gym in good area, trendy haircut, just to find out they are like Snow White – living with seven, but no dwarfs, but cockroaches. 112 miles away from central London. Helicopter recommended.

For the record, my rent in London was 580 pounds per month, including bills, for a flat shared with 4 creepy Spaniards I didn’t even know, no lounge or living room. My bedroom had broken ceiling, one chest of drawers and a bed that remembers the beginning of Cher’s singing career.

2. Tube on Monday morning

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A lot of people hate tube. With a passion. I actually like it. After moving out of London I started appreciating the idea of a train coming every two minutes, that can take you literally anywhere. There are other variations of it, like overground(mostly for east London) or DLR which is so cool and sometimes feels like a rollercoaster for bankers working in Canary Wharf… Of course, afternoons on weekdays are tough, so are mornings, but that’s a part of living in a big city.

What do I hate about the tube then?

The war of classes.

Everyone’s using tube. Even Rihanna ditched her driver to avoid horrific traffic jam and took tube to the O2 Arena. That’s why many times I observed signs of mutual hate between people so different, they wouldn’t have agreed to share space if it wasn’t absolutely necessary.

I used to live in Bethnal Green and work in Southwark. Which means I had to share the carriage with all the people working in the City – getting off at Liverpool Street or Bank. Type of cheeky middle aged gentlemen with a beer belly, smelling of Dior Savauge they got for Christmas from their wives they cheat on at the office every day. I remember their face expressions when they had to sit next to a south Asian older lady of different culture. They kept themselves glued to the screens of their fucking iPad Pros (12 inch version.)

Just not a nice feeling.

3. People drinking outside pubs after work on weekdays

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Sometimes certain things just piss you off, big time. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person(I hope). I personally hated being on a bus back from work on weekdays, driving through Moorgate and seeing pubs, one after another, full of the same type of men I described in a previous paragraph, drinking their pints and having a laugh with mates… like a hundred meters from the actual pub. 200 people around one pub, like it’s so hard just to move to another, less busy place. What an idiotic and annoying phenomenon. Maybe I just fucking hate highly dislike this specific part of society. And I just can’t help it.

4. Old Broad Street

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There’s a tiny street between Liverpool Street and Bank. Here’s a picture of it.

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Like Trump once said – looks good, doesn’t work. I think Hell might be a city made just from streets like that. 99% of my phone calls to work were made from that street. “Hi boss, I’m so sorry, I’m gonna be few minutes late… yes… yeah, exactly. I’m stuck in Bank. Again.”

There’s a term I find funny, created nowadays, mostly used in job offers that can be found online.

“Busy environment”

If you’d like to see what busy environment is like, I recommend you to take a bus 388 from East London towards Elephant and Castle on a weekday morning. I need to calculate how many weeks of my life I had lost on that street, staring at some poor guy unloading a delivery for a nearby cafe. He knows how it feels to be stressed. He has 3 buses stuck behind him every morning.

5. People living in Knightsbridge

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I still work for the same high street retailer I worked for in London, but it’s much better now. When they first told me I’m going to the Knightsbridge store I couldn’t be happier. I love high fashion and working literally opposite Harrods and next to boutiques of brands like Gucci, Prada, Versace etc. seemed like a dream come true. I imagined myself walking to work in my navy bomber and a cup of latte from french cafe Paul, looking at all of those fashionable people of Knightsbridge…

yeah, my ass.

Working in Knightsbridge was hell. Of course it’s a ridiculously wealthy area, however I don’t believe people’s wealth makes them assholes. My friends and I worked in few other rich parts of town but never had to deal with such ridiculous behaviour like in Knightsbridge.

How do I know these people actually live there? Because they kept coming every day, with their children that trust me, were hard to forget.

I remember being given a full shopping tote and told by a customer to count how much it would all be in total. After ten minutes, the screen of my calculator showed £900. From kids t-shirts worth few pounds each. After telling the nice lady what the amount was, she asked if we can make some of the tops she chose to order, because she’d like the letters printed on them to be red. I told her then, that unfortunately we are a high street LOW PROFILE retailer and don’t offer such options yet, but I’ll be more than happy to let her know personally when the company starts providing services of this nature.

She was happy. Didn’t detect the sarcasm.