XOYO remains unrivaled for London's most forward-thinking, talent-focused musical lineups, and their policy of substance over style has paid off. Fridays and Saturdays at XOYO are packed to the brim, with every raver and tune hound vying for valuable floorspace. Mike Skinner, Jackmaster and Simian Mobile Disco all make the XOYO stage a second home, and they've welcomed acts from across the pond like Das Racist and their upstairs gallery features a selection of works from young artists internationally. XOYO is that rare type of venue where you can lose your mind and sweat like there's no tomorrow, or simply bop your head to your favorite band.
The Bethnal Green Working Men's Club has been around since before Bethnal Green was cool. From its well-worn carpets to its atmosphere of a late 70's town hall, it wears its history on its sleeve and has made no effort to glam up its exteriors, even amid the competition in nearby ultra-hip Shoreditch. And that's because it doesn't have to: inside its doors are some of the most eclectic ragers you'll find east of Old Street. One night might celebrate "inharmonious aural antics", the night before a tribute to 60s girl groups. French electro nights, "camptastic rave-ups", and cabaret fests mean that you'll never have the same night twice at BGWMC, and you'll want to bookmark their events page.
It may come as a shock to anyone familiar with Drink Shop & Do's ground level – cutesy crafting shop and glam-kitsch tearoom – but the King's Cross hotspot also plays host to some of the most raucous Friday and Saturday nights you'll find in N1. Unlike the bright, airy, make-believe tea party atmosphere upstairs, Drink Shop & Do's basement is a cove of moody lighting and very grown-up cocktails. Grab a rose and lychee martini (Brokers gin, lychee liqueur, rose, Peychaud's bitters, Turkish delight) for £9 and hit the floor when they start on the old school funk and cheesy 90's pop.
We probably don't have to tell you what fabric is. More institution than nightclub, Fabric has been opening its doors to ravers and drum-and-bass enthusiasts, EDM pixies and grime goblins since it opened its doors in 1999, at the height of London's house and breakbeat renaissance. It's synonymous with the kind of London club scene that goes hand-in-hand with the gritty London glam that brought about its now infamous summer festival scene, and it draws a truly diverse crowd. While it may not remain as cutting-edge as Corsica Studios or Miranda, it brings together the most loyal followers of techno and all its sub-genres. Get there early and check its listings for tickets.
Sleek, elegant, and old-school, Cuckoo Club is a shining example of glamorous London nightclubs done right. It's the after-party spot for West End designers (Carmen Dell'Orefice, the world's oldest working model and first ever supermodel, has graced the premises during London Fashion Week) and Mayfair sophisticates. Depending on the night, you could be dancing on tables (the Ibiza DJ set frequents the decks most months), or politely sip Belvedere. Though a member's club, you'll be able to snag a spot on the guest list with a little advance notice, so grab some friends and practice your seat-dancing – you'll be there til the sun comes up over Regent Street.
The Ace Hotel houses foodie-lauded restaurant Hoi Polloi, communal workspaces hip enough to rival the i-D offices, and now edgy Miranda, situated in the hotel's basement. It's got the intimacy of a house party and the moody mystery of Dracula's lair. But fear not, no attendees will be taking themselves all that seriously – nights include Cozy Boys (instruction on their Facebook page: "Dress to decompress") and a gay hip-hop night whose name is too rude to publish. With so much packed into one building it's easy to forget that The Ace in London is not yet two years old. A night out at Miranda will leave you with street cred to bring home with you and enough memories to get you through the hangover.
If swanky, dresscode-enforced nightclubs reminiscent of LA's scene doesn't seem like your thing, perhaps we can tempt you with a Tiki theme? Mahiki has been serving up Blue Hawaiians and Honolulu Honeys since opening its doors in 2005. The scene is Jet-Set and Sloanies (inhabitants of posh Sloane Square), frequently opening its doors to Sienna Miller, Lindsay Lohan, and members of the royal family. It's where Kate Middleton went to rebound from Will with her girlfriends after their brief split in 2007, and it sits virtually nestled to the bosom of the megalithic Ritz Hotel. An night out at Mahiki will leave you feeling like an A-lister, but with piña coladas at £15 a pop (about $22) you might be living off C-list oat cakes for a while.
Dalston Superstore has more things going for it than you can count on two glittery, ink-stamped hands: cozy bar packed with east London's young it-boys-and-girls, downstairs hyper-disco, and indulgent afternoon brunch spot. You could spend your days and nights in its cushioned seats and on its well-worn dance floor, and indeed some inhabitants of east London have spent the last five years doing exactly that. It draws the festival crowd with big-name DJ sets, the LGBT crowd with lineups like White Leather Viper Club and nights for "lesbians and their gay boyfriends", and the peckish. (Go for the Emmental meatballs for £8. You'll need the protein to dance.) Dalston has become one of the best-connected its of the east, so you'll have no trouble catching a night bus – or early-morning-bus – on your way home.
Maggie's is an 80's themed Chelsea bar and club named after former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, fully equipped with audio footage of her iconic speeches playing in the bathrooms, and neon splashed across the walls. It's tacky, bizarre, and lighthearted – a much needed change of pace amid Chelsea's Maserati-lined streets and Etonian watering holes. Though technically a members only club (you can apply for membership online) the club takes open bookings for VIP lists and private events, and offers up group batches of drinks like the A-Team Van (literally served in a plastic A-Team van, £80 and serves four) and the Wall Street martini (in a giant glass, £55 and serves three). With a little planning in advance, you and your friends could have the goofiest club night this side of the Thames. Tubular.
One part music-snob secret-clubhouse, two party underground shrine to disco chaos, Corsica Studios is the venue you always dreamed of partying in. Though mainly of the techno, electro hip-hop persuasion, its legendary club night Baba Yaga's Hut features everything from "Krautrock, 60's psych and crime-jazz to baile-funk, progressive rock, blaxploitation soundtracks, no-wave disco, ghetto-tech and free noise". And as it's come of age (it opened its gates in 2005) Corsida Studios has begun providing more laid-back alternatives to its diverse attendees, including summer nights in its outdoor astroturf lounge just a short walk from both Borough Station and Elephant and Castle.