Metropolitan life: If london is hip, hoxton is where it's happening

... And if you're not trendy enough to live there, this is the day to visit.
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Indy Lifestyle Online
Hoxton is happening, asserts this month's Harper's Bazaar, the American fashion bible. Well, to be precise, the magazine tells its readers that London is happening, but for hip East Enders, the accompanying photographs, showing the aristocratic British model Stella Tennant with a bunch of downbeat twenty-something men in Hoxton Square, mean much, much more.

Hoxton is one of the oldest of 29 East End postal districts. It is contained between Old Street, Curtain Road and Kingsland Road and, as any one of its numerous trendy residents will tell you, if London is hip, Hoxton is where it's happening. The fashion photographer Adam Friedberg hails from New York, but has made Hoxton his home. "When I lived in New York I always lived in non-fashiony areas, so when I came to London I tried to do the same, but it didn't quite work," he says. "I thought I was the only young person in the area when I moved in, but then I realised half the fashion business lives here; only the other morning I saw Shalom Harlow walking along the road." (For those of you not in the know, Harlow is one of the super-duper models.)

At last count the East End had 10,000 artists living and working within its crumbling Victorian facade, a high concentration of them in the Hoxton area. Turn a street corner and you will catch sight of a sculptor working away in a dusty space, turn another and you may see a fashion shoot in progress, another and a film is being shot. "About three weeks ago," Friedberg tells me, "they turned Hoxton Square into New York, it was totally weird, there were yellow cabs and cops everywhere." The square has had a previous starring role, as home to the transsexual glamour puss in The Crying Game. In addition to the artists who have snapped up the cheap live/ work studios in the area there are fashion designers, stylists, photographers, publishers, models, film-makers, and musicians.

But the fashionable heart of the area is Hoxton Square itself. The brightest star of British fashion, Alexander McQueen, a real East Ender, lives on the square, and the hair and make-up artist Mira Hyde lives upstairs. For all you uncool North, South and West Londoners, today is the perfect day to explore the area. Dazed and Confused are staging a 3-D mixed media at The Tramshed in Rivington Street (11am-6pm daily, until 9 October). But best to start by popping in to the Bricklayers Arms, a non-descript pub on Charlotte Road. It looks closed from the outside, but inside you will find a smattering of young trendies drinking tea and reading the papers while listening to Oasis on the juke-box. The tea incidentally, and the coffee, is free at the weekends and as well as usual pub fare you can breakfast all day for only pounds 3.50.

Nearby is the Blue Note, the Jazz club which is part art gallery, part club, part hanging out place. Irvine Welsh read extracts of his book Ecstasy there; Jungle guru Goldie holds his famous drum `n' bass night Metalheadz there every Sunday. It is the kind of place that supposedly brings jaded late-twenties clubbers out again after early retirement. Next door to the Blue Note is a building site which will soon become the Lux Arts Centre, it will house a 120-seat cinema, a cafe and also have spaces to let for artists and full multi-media facilities. Dalston City Challenge and the British Film Institute are funding it, and when it opens next spring it will add to the mass regeneration of the area, that fortunately is not too obvious - yet.


Blue Note, 1 Hoxton Square, London N1, call 0171 729 8440 for monthly listings.

Comedy Cafe, 66 Rivington Street, London, N1. Open Wed, Thurs, Fri, Sat. Weds free, Thurs pounds 1, Fri and Sat pounds 8. Tel: 0171 739 5706.

Sh!, 43 Coronet Street, London N1. Women only sex shop. Tel: 0171 613 5485.

Sole, 7 Chapel Place, London N1, Lebanese restaurant, open from 10am until 11pm Monday to Friday, 0171 739 4002.

Canteloupe, 35-42 Charlotte Road, London EC2. Bar and restaurant, open Mon to Fri, 11am to midnight. Sat: 5pm to midnight. Sun: closed. DJ on Saturday night. Tel: 0171 613 4411.

The Bricklayers Arms, 63 Charlotte Road, London EC2. Tel: 0171 739 5245.

The Barley Mow, 127 Curtain Road, London EC2. Tel: 0171 729 3910.

T Cookes, Pie and Mash Shop, Hoxton Street, London N1.

Hoxton Hall, Hoxton Street; revived music hall, and community centre.

Circus Space, Coronet Street, N1; Circus skills training centre, Mon to Fri, 10am to 10pm, weekends variable. Details: 0171 613 4141.

The Tramshed, 32 Rivington St, EC2, hosts the Nokia / Dazed and Confused Live!: Admission free, open daily 11am-6pm, to 9 October. For further details 0171 490 7474.