This late night Dalston bar celebrates the humble, outmoded VHS tape with nightly screenings and shameless nostalgia. Sadly, the rest of the club experience doesn't deliver.
Visions Video Bar can be found on Kingsland Road, a stone’s throw from Dalston Kingsland overground station. The main room is accessed through a small doorway, with just an unheralded sign advertising its presence, and down a narrow staircase past the cloakroom and toilets. It is multi-tiered, ranging from the DJ booth and tiled dancefloor on the far right-hand side, up to the wooden bar to the left, complete with the bar’s logo emblazoned in blue light. The space is fiercely air-conditioned and disconcertingly light for a late night club, with all-white walls and floor, but fairy lights and mirrors help create a vaguely escapist vibe nonetheless, and the ubiquitous TVs playing VHS tapes sit mounted in every corner, providing visual distraction. Seating is available in the form of rather cheap-looking plastic chairs, scattered around metal tables near the bar, with spares stacked throughout the room at random, not unlike a school canteen.
Visions' gimmick consists of glorifying the outdated VHS tape format by playing old favourites on banks of TV screens, often doctored with psychedelic effects. It's a neat idea in this age of short-sighted retro nostalgia, but once the novelty wears off it's just a run-of-the-mill club, and not a particularly endearing one at that. The rushed, unfinished appearance of the main room may not trouble the youthful (albeit sparse) weekend crowds, but it isn't exactly conducive to an ideal night out either, especially with such strong competition throughout Dalston. Indeed, for all but the most passionate VHS apologists, the £5 or so required for entry would be better spent elsewhere on Kingsland Road.
Dalston musos will be well acquainted with the weekend line-up of anything from dancehall, hip hop and garage to electronic house, and sometimes Visions Video Bar attracts some well known, albeit underground, names in music. During the week, VHS tapes are soundtracked by energetic pop and R&B from resident DJs and you can expect the occasional hipster album launch, to boot.
The bar stocks a considerable selection of bottled beers and ciders, to compensate for the lack of draught lager – Peroni, Carlsberg, Stella and Corona are among the brands available, and cut-price deals like 2 bottles of Carlsberg for £5 are commonplace. A decent range of soft drinks and shots (roughly £4-5 for spirit and mixer) rounds out a creditable enough drinks list.
The Last Word
Offering a decent soundtrack and unabashed VHS nostalgia, Visions Video Bar is otherwise severely lacking in atmosphere and aesthetics.