Culture Articles

The best venues to see the next big thing before anyone else

The talent-nurturing hotspots to visit when you’re in need of a fresh, new, beat-the-rest culture hit to gloat about

Top Secret Comedy Club

For comedy up'n'comers

“OK guys, it’s called the Top Secret Comedy Club, so I guess we’ll strategise our search up Drury Lane by…” “Here it is, Dan.” Nothing’s ‘Top Secret’ any more, is it? Not in this crazy Wikileaking, Google-searching, Siri-flirting world we live in. But don’t hold the silly, silly name against it: this is the finest basement bar to find TV-primed comics before Dark Overlord McIntyre enslaves them to his Comedy Roadshow for eternity.

Notable alumni: All the lads - Eddie Izzard, Jack Whitehall, Lee Nelson.

The Dublin Castle pub Camden

For the best breaking bands

Still banging on about how you went to school with The Wombats and saw them play at your Year 11 prom before anyone knew them? Hmmm. Make good your new music boasting material with a couple of beers in Camden's Dublin Castle, pre-fame home to Blur, Madness and Coldplay, as well as lots of other bands that aren't on your dad's Sanyo MP3 player.

Notable alumni: Amy Winehouse, gawd rest 'er soul.

Lacey Contemporary gallery, Notting Hill

For ahead-of-the-curve artists

We love the Tate. You love the Tate. Every tourist who’s ever set foot in London loves the Tate. And herein lies your problem – everyone’s done the Infinity Mirror Room selfie and got their three ‘likes’-worth of social verification from it recently. Leave them to it and set your chin-stroking cross hairs for Lacey Contemporary instead - Notting Hill's little den of emerging art from around the world.

Notable alumni: Elisabetta Fantone, pop artist fave of Muhammad Ali.

The miniaturists

For under-the-radar theatre

You've got a sneaking suspicion that you're seriously punching above your weight with tonight's Tinder date. She's pretty. She's cool. And she's just eye-rolled at your Groupon deal seats for The Book Of Mormon! The Minaturists is your last-minute life-saver. A top-notch bunch of one-act plays by new leading lights from all over London and beyond, showcased on the main stage of Dalston's venerable Arcola Theatre.

Notable alumni: David Ralf, award-winning critic turned playwright.

See the next big thing before anyone else 3

For promising poets

Bang Said The Gun reckon they’re ‘stand-up poetry for people who don’t like poetry’. You’re thinking it, aren’t you. You’re thinking, “Christ, finally, something that gets me. No more cloak of lies! No more mask of deceit! I can be me! I’m free!” as you spin happily on the spot, arms outstretched. Go be free (for fifteen quid) here on October 5 and allow the likes of award-winning poet Murray Lachlan Young help you live the spoken-word life you've long known you were destined for.

Notable alumni: Wordsmen Sir Andrew Motion and Roger McGough.

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