When the Christmas turkey has finally digested and the New Year bubbles well and truly deflated, the infamous Jan-Feb weather does little to give ones energy a leg-up. Laugh in the face of TFL’s ‘extreme weather conditions’ and dare to venture out into Shoreditch to discover a wealth of cockle-warming activities that will get hearts, minds and bodies racing again.
Ping Pong – The Book Club
The ancient Chinese sport of ping pong is much more than a meagre wrist exercise, a full on hour of the past-time can burn up to 750 calories. The Book Club in Shoreditch hosts Tuesday night table tennis competitions plus monthly ‘King Pong’ tournaments in the expansive basement. Surrounded by eclectic retro furniture and homely brickwork, the ping pong table nestles against a shrine-like wall of red and black rackets. The fun doesn’t just happen on Tuesday or King Pong nights – punters can practice their serves and back hands all week round – just beware of any unintended games of beer pong as the pesky ball bounces awry through the bar. The Tuesday night comps happen at the main ping pong table from 6.30pm to 11pm. Entry fee is £5 with the opportunity for the lucky winner to grab a £35 drinks voucher.
The Book Club, 100-106 Leonard Street, EC2A 4RH
Ukelele Jam – Queen of Hoxton
What better way to feel like a giant than hold a mini guitar in your hands for the night? Every Monday night Queen of Hoxton gives you the chance to experience feelings of harmonious enormity with its Hootanany Ukelele Jam. Each week the musical masses gather on the ground floor at 6.30pm to worship the sweet sound of traditional Hawaiian strings. Open to both beginners and pros; the QoH offers ukes for rent for a £20 returnable deposit if patrons don’t have their own to bring along. Expert strummers are on-call throughout the night to guide novice hands through the chords and notes of the night’s chosen tune. The group reconvenes at 9pm for the chance to pluck and play what they’ve learnt in Ukelele unity.
Queen of Hoxton, 1-5 Curtain Rd, EC2A 3JX
Skate Behind Liverpool Street Station - Broadgate Ice Rink
On its 28th year, Broadgate Ice Rink has City workers cutting figure eights in their suits for three and a half months of winter time. At its new location a doddle from Liverpool Street Station, drifters, professionals and local East Londoners can slip on their blades and skim the frosty surface at Exchange Square on a whim. The Big Smoke’s only walk-in rink runs its hourly sessions on a first come first served basis. Cool in more ways than one, the circular arena continues its casual theme with the handy on-ice BAR BBQ, allowing skaters to glide towards a charcoal grill and wood-burning oven for some soul-warming and tummy-filling grub, accompanied by a seasonal beverage like craft beer or a winter warmer. Deep frozen at its site till 27 February 2014, the rink is open for business to Adults (£12.50), Children aged 4-13 (£8.50), Students/Over 60s (£10) or Families (£33.50), and attendees can bring their own skates or hire them at no extra cost to the entrance fee. A qualified instructor is available for lessons if you’d like to go for more than just an amateur spin, or you can spray some serious crystal with a competitive spot of Broomball. Yes it’s pretty much what it sounds like.
Exchange House, 12 Exchange Square, The City EC2A 2BQ
Brick Lane Bowling - All Star Lanes
Make like Homer and hit the bowling alley at Brick Lane. Bring your own Moe, Apu and Mr Burns for a session of ten-pin on one of the six lanes, where up to seven friends can square up on each aisle. Ranging from £6.95 to £8.95 for adults including shoe hire, depending on the time of day and period of the year you drop in, players can strike it lucky till midnight from Monday to Thursday and Sunday, and till 1am on Friday and Saturday at the spaciously laid and well glossed venue. Readily on-hand staff add to the sheen of the place, while food, cocktails, karaoke and American pool ensure those opting out of bowling aren’t left completely in the gutter. For very large parties, all of the above can be privately hired on a separate mezzanine floor that proudly sports an immaculate penthouse vibe, with three exclusive lanes to practice your spin on. Christmas may be over, but there’s always a turkey to be had at All Star Lanes in Brick Lane.
All Star Lanes, 95 Brick Lane, E1 6QL
Shoreditch Fussball – Bar Kick
In a country dominated by footy, it’s surprising there aren’t more bars offering this rainy-day version of our nation’s most beloved sport. While drinking itself can be considered a contact sport, table football is a great way of mustering the competitive spirit without endangering shins. To put its punters in the mood, the ground floor of continental hangout Bar Kick in Shoreditch is decorated with flags of footballing nations and bric-a-brac memorabilia of the beautiful game, and four casual fussball tables where you can stroll in, put a pound down on the table side line to reserve a turn, and enjoy a cocktail or some nibbles while you wait. But these guys are serious about what most office workers consider a lunchtime distraction – the name, the interior, and the underground cavern kitted out with seven original French Bonzini tables made of beech wood, cast iron figurines and proper World Cup balls are but a few of the giveaways. At £1 per game, you can call ahead to book a spot in the low-lit basement or give your messi-esque wrists a real workout by joining the Kick Babyfoot Association. The organisation meets every Thursday, puts together tourneys at the venue itself, and even travels to other playoffs including international competitions like the Baby-Foot World Cup in Paris. Winner stays on.
Bar Kick, 127 Shoreditch High St, London E1 6JE
Interactive Art - Rich Mix
Creative activities have been long known for their meditative qualities; add to that improvised music sets and a speed-dating style artistic collaboration. The Merging Inks event at Rich Mix on 27th February offers live art performances by top illustrators and artists who blend their individual styles into one creative mega-piece. The night also gives the non-professionals a chance to put their own beret caps on and participate in the audience piece. With artists such as Adriana Krawcewicz, Carl Hoare and Claudia Stocker to draw inspiration from the evening is sure to get those creative juices flowing so hard that it could be a slipping hazard. The one-off event takes place in the main space; doors open at 6.30pm, entry £5.