Soho's swinging? Hoxton's hip? That was last week...

Now Clerkenwell's commercial. Notting Hill? Naff. So where's it at? begs Eleanor Bailey

If you haven't heard, Bermondsey is the new Soho - this month. It has all the characteristics that made Soho great: real businesses, real pubs, real people, old buildings untouched by cultural steamroller cafes Rouge and Dome - in fact, by culture at all. In short, perfect for the artistic minded who want to live at the cutting edge.

The media's crowning of the new Soho is an almost weekly event. This month's issue of gay style magazine Attitude slags off "Nu Soho" (meaning the Soho filled with the sun's-so bright-in-Romford-I've-got-to-wear- Moschino-shades-indoors brigade). Attitude crowns the young pretender Hoxton, aka Old Street, but the problem with the monthly magazine genre is that it is already late. I mean, even I know that Old Street is a glorified roundabout that was fashionable about a year and a half ago. And if I know it, then it must have been actually fashionable two and a half years ago and therefore entirely dead.

Hoxton photographer Dennis Pedersen, soon to move to a live/work studio there (absolutely the thing, urban dwellers) explains the problematic phenomenon of the constant crowning of the New Soho. "Artists are broke, so they move into an area that's cheap and full of authentic London. Then, because they can make their surroundings attractive, it becomes fashionable. Young trendies start moving in and the council catches on and starts `doing up' the area, gradually destroying the original feel. The end comes when the naff bars move in. Hoxton now has Japanese tourists wandering around wondering what the hell they should be looking at, but all the trendy stuff is behind closed doors."

What makes an area a contender for the influx of the artistic or gay settlers who will create a new Soho? It should be highly urban - not too many nice Georgian buildings. The more abandoned warehouses or deserted council blocks the better. It should have as much authentic, no longer viable, commerce as possible: old tailors, used white goods etc. It should have ancient pubs,seedy cheap "restaurants" with rude waiters who have been there for at least 20 years and an eclectic flea market. The area should be very inaccessible - not even plans for an underground link.

Life in the cool is not meant to be pleasant. Saski Brown, 24, a photographer's assistant, was a Bermondsey resident for two days. "It's a pit. There's one pub, full of dodgy skinheads. The only place to go is the garage, where they sell only sliced white bread and Mr Kipling cakes. I did my best. I stripped the floor, I painted the walls white. But by 3.30pm on the second day, I'd had enough. It was deserted, just one huge arterial road and a traffic jam. I just wasn't tough enough." Saski moved to still-urban Kennington. "It still had that bleak lack of an urban centre which I responded to - in a good way."

Despite attempts to usurp it, Soho itself will always be cool. The mass market deluge of its tightly knitted streets just means that the place has sub-divided. The cool people have gone underground until the storm has passed. Stephen Armstrong, presenter of Channel 5's entertainment show Exclusive, explains that the idea of a place being cool in this virtual age is old. "Everywhere that's good has become bad because it's really crowded. Which means that there has been a rise in members-only bars. In Soho, Quo Vadis is going to become members only, L'Odeon and The Phoenix Theatre Bar are members only. The members- only trend means that the `right' people go to certain parts of Soho and there's room to sit down. That is the trend." People always want to go somewhere central, they just don't want to mix with suburbanites.

This may also be a backlash by those stung by hype about Clerkenwellwhere, since it became mass-market trendy, it is now easier to buy papier-mache than a pint of milk. Trevor Beattie, creative director of advertising agency GGT, agrees that new Sohos are always exaggerated. "If you want dead rough and urban then King's Cross is really buzzing around York Way with Bagley's and so on. It's got shootings and everything. But Soho is actually the best it's ever been. The feel is much safer - it's knives and Camparis, not gun warfare. Soho is the new Soho."

WILL THE REAL NEW SOHO PLEASE STAND UP?

Brixton

One of the first new Sohos, at the beginning of the Nineties, when Soul II Soul was at its height. Now full of charity workers - check out the incense that hits you as you come off the tube. It's a place for the ecologically minded with an urban edge. Places: The Brockwell Lido. Drink: herbal energy drinks. Dress: ethnic not-so-chic.

Marylebone

Otherwise dubbed Noho, short for North Soho or, as some unkind observers said, simply "Not Soho". This well-kept secret in the heart of London is fast becoming like this sentence, cliche ridden. Thanks to the Union Cafe and other cool hangouts it is flooded with former Soho types come to drink Blueberry Smoothies and enjoy the fresher air. "If you blew up the Patisserie Valerie," says Alex, 34, a writer and Marylebone resident, "the BBC would shut down." Drink: the entirely authentic mocha-ccino. The look: unabashed mobile phone use, all black clothes (drip-dry because everyone has a baby).

Bermondsey

The latest hell hole turned cool spot. As customary, it is only a few brave individuals who can stick living there. However, its culture is rubber stamped by the heavy menace of the BNP. Drink: Special Brew. Dress: skinhead and Doc Martens.

Hoxton

Huge amounts of media coverage. Trendy people are moving in by the coach load, but there is still very little to do. The trendy Hoxton Square is an oasis in what is just the nastier part of Islington. Apart from the carbuncle of a tube station, you are entirely reliant for deliverance on the exceptionally slow number 55 bus. Places: The Circus Space, the Blue Note and there's a new arty cinema opening next week. Drink: black coffee. Dress: like a photographer.

Notting Hill

Far too fond of itself. The only people who can afford to live here now - apart from the merely rich who are inherently uncool - are successful media types, so there is clearly nothing authentic about them. Drink: Coke (served in lines). Dress: T-shirts from places you haven't heard of, designed for maximum superiority.

Islington

The Blair factor has dropped Islington off the cool map. Now full of people pretending to read broadsheet newspapers in cafes on Sunday mornings. The whole place reeks of New Labour. Drink: nice Chablis from one of the middle-class off licences with sawdust on the floor. Dress: Agnes B, except during yoga classes.

The real East End

Has always had a Krays-style glamour. Has the advantage of being quite tough without the downright nastiness of King's Cross. Drink: stewed tea, three sugars, to wash down the fry-up. Dress: Tommy H (but don't ask where it came from).

Woho

Soho spin-off on the west side of Regent Street, based solely, it seems, on the rise of one Heddon Street (see Real Life sections passim). Home to Conran's latest venture the Zinc Bar, Momo's and not much else. Embryonic, certainly, cheap and authentic, no. Drink: Bolly. Dress: expensive.

Sport
Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Voices
Poor teachers should be fearful of not getting pay rises or losing their job if they fail to perform, Steve Fairclough, headteacher of Abbotsholme School, suggested
voicesChris Sloggett explains why it has become an impossible career path
Sport
world cup 2014
Sport
Ray Whelan was arrested earlier this week
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Arts and Entertainment
In a minor key: Keira Knightley in the lightweight 'Begin Again'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
books
News
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
News
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
newsJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Life and Style
It beggars belief: the homeless and hungry are weary, tortured, ghosts of people – with bodies contorted by imperceptible pain
lifeRough sleepers exist in every city. Hear the stories of those whose luck has run out
News
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
people
Life and Style
fashionJ Crew introduces triple zero size to meet the Asia market demand
Sport
Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini of Arsenal launch the new Puma Arsenal kits at the Puma Store on Carnaby Street
sportMassive deal worth £150m over the next five years
Arts and Entertainment
Welsh opera singer Katherine Jenkins
musicHolyrood MPs 'staggered' at lack of Scottish artists performing
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Arts and Entertainment
Currently there is nothing to prevent all-male or all-female couples from competing against mixed sex partners at any of the country’s ballroom dancing events
Potential ban on same-sex partners in ballroom dancing competitions amounts to 'illegal discrimination'
News
business
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Business Analyst Consultant (Financial Services)

    £60000 - £75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

    Systems Administrator - Linux / Unix / Windows / TCP/IP / SAN

    £60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A leading provider in investment managemen...

    AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer

    £600 - £700 per day: Harrington Starr: AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer JVS, ...

    E-Commerce Developer

    £45000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Exciting opp...

    Day In a Page

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
    Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

    A writer spends a night on the streets

    Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
    Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
    Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

    Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

    Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
    Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

    Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

    This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
    Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

    Why did we stop eating whelks?

    Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
    10 best women's sunglasses

    In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

    From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice