With live music playing six days a week, this hidden-away east London haunt is where bohemian, renegade and hipster types come out to play. A mêlée of absinthe-infused cocktails, steam punk chic décor, turn-of-the century decadence and expertly placed rhythms makes Jamboree the kind of place that will draw you back time and again.
A line of bicycles and the blaring sound of trumpets guide you through a nondescript, heavily draped entrance into a small room radiating sound. The stage at the front is normally heaving with musicians and instruments tapping out strains of gypsy jazz in front of velvet, mocha-coloured stage curtains. At the back of the room the waitress stands patiently at the bar, watching absinthe brouilleurs filter alcohol onto sparkling sugar cubes.
The crowd is dispersed throughout the room; standing, dancing or sitting at tables beside piles of old books and antique instruments. The walls of the venue are decorated with hallucinogenic scenes by the Jamboree in-house artist Armando Seijo, while the old stable lamps hanging from the ceiling cast a scintillating, eerie glow across the venue.
This hip joint has an excellent live music programme that attracts a mixed, discerning crowd of varied age groups. On the weekends the crowd tends to be younger and the dance floor is packed with a lively audience, while the weekday performances attract a slightly more sedate crowd who come primarily to enjoy the music. With doors closing at 11pm on weekdays and 12pm on weekends, it is not a place for stiletto-lovers or those who expect to dance all night long.
Jamboree’s reputation for excellent live music is justified by its busy weekly schedule of performances and entertainment. On Mondays the venue hosts gypsy, folk, blues and Americana, while Tuesdays showcase traditional folk music. Wednesday is Cretan night and on Thursdays Golden Era jazz is to be heard blossoming from the stage. Friday and Saturday night performers change weekly – so it is best to consult the website for listings. There is normally a cover charge of £4-£7 at the door, so check in advance, although entry is free on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
A range of choice bottled ciders, real ales and beers are available from the bar at the £4 mark. Spirits and mixers are priced between £3.50 and £4. Cocktails such as Green Beast, Tequila Sunrise and Bloody Mary will set you back between £5 and £6.50 and aperitifs including Kir Royal and Campari Orange cost £4-£5.50. While a range of red and white wines are available, juices and non-alcoholic beverages such as cloudy lemonade and beetroot apple juice are also on offer for those who do not want to drink. But Jamboree’s real piece-de-resistance is its absinthe-themed drinks menu, served in true Parisian style using a silver gilt absinthe fountain. Such Green Fairy-themed cocktails and shots are certainly worth a try, especially as Jamboree is the sort of venue which rewards the adventurous.
The Last Word
This secluded venue with the ambience of a speakeasy is a great addition to the area and more than justifies the journey across London to get here. Those who are looking for a truly original and memorable experience need look no further.