Stoke Newington’s Church Street may be well-to-do by day, but head underground to The Waiting Room by night and all inhibitions are well and truly left at the door.
Underneath The Three Crowns Pub where Church Street meets Stoke Newington High Street is a small basement venue that is helping Church Street keep its cool. While the area gets more and more gentrified, the hipsters are fighting back, albeit underground. The compact side staircase - almost unmanageable after a few drinks – leading down from the pub’s entrance is plastered in posters and opens into a rectangular room with bench seating either side and decks on a small stage to the back. A tiny bar sits next to the stairs and a corridor leads down the side to the bathrooms. It’s simple, intimate and almost like a winter log cabin, with wooden surfaces, only interrupted by white tiling on side walls. Simple lighting leaves a red glow behind the bar and a blue hue at the opposite end of the room where the DJ or band take pride of place.
With the space being so compact, you easily get talking to other clubbers at The Waiting Room, mostly locals with a few folk tired of the Dalston scene and drifting further up the road. On livelier nights you can expect this crowd to be up on the benches dancing and almost hanging off the rafters, which is practically encouraged by staff. They may even get up there with you when collecting pint glasses begins to grate.
The Waiting Room provides music across the board – no scene is left unturned. So while the typical electronic music from promoters such as Eat Your Own Ears and Reach Up! brings in the crowds, just as popular is tongue-in-cheek pop night Playhouse (where anything goes!) as well as 80s- and 90s-themed nights. Not to mention regular reggae and hip hop all-nighters. The line-up is complete when gigs are added to the fold – you can often feel the vibrations in the pub upstairs throughout the week. And Folke Newington taps into the enduring indie identity of the community every other Sunday. Due to the confined nature of the venue, you may experience ringing ears when you emerge aboveground.
Booze is simple, with Amstel on tap and bottled beer proving more popular. As to be expected, on club nights the spirits and mixers are in biggest demand, costing around the £7 mark for a double measure. A cluster of punters backs up at the bar given the small size of it, but your wait shouldn’t be too long, despite the club’s deceptive name.
The Last Word
As one of the few venues open this late at this end of town, The Waiting Room proves particularly popular among locals, and with good reason. The club provides a diverse line-up that is accessible without ever losing its edge. It’s also noticeably absent of the try-hards or out-of-towners increasingly encroaching on similar spots in Dalston. Let’s hope it stays that way.