The current hype may surround the after hours parties that Dalston keeps throwing up, but the long-standing Jazz Bar is still the place that just won’t quit.
At home amongst the Chicken Cottages of the high street, Dalston Jazz Bar blends in with its filthy exterior and occasional cracked window. A little way north of Dalston Junction, and where once there was an empty old car park, the club now sits sweetly next to bicycle parks and pedestrianised asphalt, rocking somewhat of a shack vibe.
But exterior isn’t everything as they say, and so within, where the temperature rises rapidly, there’s a vaguely library-esque look that momentarily intrigues. Space is a premium; one step inside and everyone’s up in your face. Corrugated iron shelving holds a scant amount of books at the edge of the room and there are a minimal number of old sofas sat around the place.
Fridays and Saturdays are fun at Dalston Jazz Bar, especially if dancing up against strangers to awesome music floats your boat. It’s always hot and sweaty, the bar is a nightmare to get to and you’ll be wetting your pants before you get to the toilets (there are just two unisex) but good times are still in effect. However, sweetness isn’t everywhere and, on rare occasions, the strange mix of oddities, hipsters and locals can grate, but this tends to last only until the next song.
DJs are on rotation behind CD decks where the musical possibilities are endless. Always expect to hear things like Dawn Penn, Sister Nancy and Arrested Development because, somehow, they know the ones you never get bored of. The closest things you get to jazz at weekends is Jazzy B and there’s a preference for heavy danceable tracks to keep the crowd moving. Soul, hip-hop, funk and disco blend seamlessly in the mix.
The simple counter bar is laden with pools of crushed ice and fridges, but somehow they manage to keep the liquids looking desirable. Mojitos are popular, served in plastic pint glasses at rapid response times, they’re a bargain at £5. Apart from the cocktails there’s a whole fridge of beer cans and bottles that you’ll pay way over the odds for, including Leffe Blonde and Brun. You’re best off sticking to the cocktails.
The Last Word
Whether you’re just starting off your night, or looking to end somewhere hip and grimy, the Dalston Jazz Bar offers good times and a quality playlist.