The Actor’s Guide to Brixton

Where to live, eat and play: the Backstage guide to arts and artist-friendly neighbourhoods in London.

Vincent Van Gogh, Charlie Chaplin and David Bowie all famously spent time in Brixton. And while recent redevelopment – some might call it gentrification – means Brixton can no longer claim to be the refuge of the penniless artist, there is still plenty for off-duty actors to get stuck into. The rich musical heritage continues to pulse through the streets of Brixton in a multitude of live and recorded music venues, and more recent additions to the area such as Pop and Brixton Village are awash with independent places to eat and drink which come alive at night.

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Culture

The Ritzy Cinema has an eclectic programme and hosts regular Q&As with world-renowned filmmakers. Tickets are just £7.50 (£5.50 for members) on Happy Mondays; Discover Tuesdays are when they show cult classics, art-house gems and documentaries – and even throw in a free beer from the Hop House Brewery.

The Ritzy’s upstairs bar offers a rich mix of cultural events from open-mic comedy through board games nights to blues dancing hosted by Swing Patrol.

There’s currently little in the way of live theatre in Brixton but all that will change in 2020 when Oval House relocates here. In the meantime, Brixton makes up for in spades with live music – and the choice is dizzying.

Big acts head to the Academy, with Cypress Hill, Young Fathers and Wolf Alice coming up soon. Emerging acts head for Electric Brixton where live music mixes with club nights and parties like I Love Reggaeton and Gentleman’s Dub Club. For ska, reggae and world-folk, head to Hootananny, where you can also catch free stand-up comedy every Friday night.

Other music venues include Prince of Wales (great rooftop parties), Phonox (electronica, brilliant speakers) and Jamm (plenty of bands and parties – including grime-fest the Great British Drake Off).

Fancy a singalong instead? Why not try live-band karaoke on Wednesdays at Hootananny – or even Gospeloke at the Prince of Wales where you’ll be accompanied by a gospel choir. Like orating? Of course you do – so sign up for a story-telling night upstairs at the Ritzy Cinema, or get involved in a spoken-word event at the Black Cultural Archives.

Transport Links

National Rail: Brixton station has regular trains into London Victoria, which take 7 minutes.

London Underground:  Victoria-line tubes run to Walthamstow in north-east London, passing through Finsbury Park, Kings Cross, Euston, Oxford Circus and Victoria.

Buses: Brixton is served 24 hours a day by a wide selection of buses running in all directions, with most passing outside the tube station. Routes 2, 3, 133 and 159 go into central London.

 

Eating and Drinking

Corporate chains are sneaking into Brixton but there are still enough independent bars and restaurants to keep the place characterful and buzzing.

Head to the Shrub and Shutter for unique cocktails and seasonal French cuisine.

Check out Nanban for Japanese soul food in a converted theatre.

Franco Manca and Honest Burgers both began their stories at Brixton Village and continue to thrive there as they open franchises throughout the rest of London.

The Department Store is a swanky redeveloped historical building with two restaurants and a rooftop bar with stunning views across London.

Rental Costs

Rooms in flat shares go for between £115 and £355 per week. Expect to pay an average of £435 per week to rent an entire flat. Adjacent areas Stockwell, Streatham and Loughborough Junction offer cheaper rent and are just a stone’s throw away.

Health and Wellbeing

Brixton Recreation Centre is the main sports hub, with two swimming pools, a gym, fitness classes, climbing wall, trampolining and racket sports. Memberships start at £30 a month and drop-in classes are £8.65. Fitness First has monthly memberships from £35. If you like yoga you can do it hot at Fierce Grace with memberships from £109 a month, or cold at Yoga Point where drop-in classes are £12. And there’s a skate park round the corner in Stockwell for those who dare.

Brixton Therapy Centre covers all your holistic therapy needs and offers osteopathy, reflexology, massage, acupuncture, physiotherapy, nutritional therapy with sessions at approximately £70 per hour.

What we love

Brixton Village mixes the old with the new. Fishmongers, greengrocers and wig shops sit comfortably between street food stalls, homewares and ethical clothing stores. A bustling hub of diversity and quirk.

What we don’t

Did we mention that the chains are creeping in? Get there now while Brixton still has its magic.

Check out Backstage’s London audition listings!