Atlantic Bar...Back in the day
I moved to London 21 years ago this September. Some might say that this is my ‘coming of age year’ as a Londoner, but I would disagree with that - you become a Londoner as soon as London becomes your home. I have met Londoners who have been living in the greatest city in the world for just a few months - they have more passion, loyalty and drive to make London an even better place than some ‘born and bred’ Londoners I’ve met.
Both through my work and because of how and where I live my life, not a day goes by that I don’t utter the words ‘Oh, I love London’. My relationship with London was not meant to endure the past two decades. Moving here as a 28-year-old, living in London was supposed to be my last fling before settling down to a more sensible home. I thought I would come to London for a couple of years, consume all it had to offer, sucking up as much experience and money as I could and move back to Yorkshire ready for adulthood (with adulthood starting at about 30!) However, what happened in those first few months travelling from south London over Westminster Bridge into Soho or Mayfair changed my life for ever. I fell in love… …with the city.
What I loved most about central London in those days were the magical places situated behind the city’s velvet ropes - The Atlantic Bar, Titanic, Ten Rooms, Saint Bar, Café de Paris and the very naughty Browns on Great Queen Street. These places were the holy grail for me; a playground; a place to express, to show off; to stand tall and to cement your place on the London scene, protected by the discerning or bitchy (depending on your relationship with them) door picker. These places became a huge part of, not only my London life, but my life in general. I loved them. I respected the artistry of the environments’ architects and the skill and implementation of the executives (or as most people see them, bar tenders).
For the first year or two, this was my entire London experience outside of work and I will never regret a moment of it. I think I knew early on that I was never going to leave. London felt like home. I could look across a bar or club and see an eclectic mix of faces from around the world, feeling as though I knew them. I knew why they were there and how important the time was that we were spending together. These places were London’s melting pot, where creative misfits from all over the world would flock to find like-minded, or at least open-minded. People. It was somewhere for people like this would be welcomed and would thrive.
Some of you reading this may have graced the night streets of central London a few years earlier, believing the scene was not the same as when places such as the Blitz, 69 Dean Street or the Embassy Club ruled after hours. But this was my time, my scene with my people. These venues hosted today's ‘influencers’ the people who have shaped London’s lifestyle environments across the last decade or so. I often get asked how I became so well connected and how I know so many influential people across so many industries. Well, it all started as we all got past the same velvet rope as we were trying to find our way in the world.
As an extremely ambitious person, life needed to get a little more serious, as a fully-fledged Londoner, I needed to see what else this metropolis had to offer and, because I am currently sitting here in Café Boehme in the middle of Soho eating breakfast, you’ll already know that I found plenty to keep me amused, interested and in love over the last two decades. I’ll tell you much more about this in part two of this blog.