London is home to the best of everything: the best cafés, cinemas, parks – and the best feminist hangouts.
I moved to East London in September to come to QM. My reasoning was simple: everything is here. Being from a small town in seaside Dorset (where nothing cool ever happens), London seemed glamorous and chic. And, fulfilling expectations in the way only London can, it is all of these things and a little bit more. Depending on my mood, the ‘little bit more’ perhaps includes the vocab ‘dodgy’ and ‘dirty’.
Queen Mary, however, as all CUB readers will know, is situated in the very unglamorous and un-chic area of Mile End. Scattered with a generous number of kebab takeaway shops, it is every student’s dream – and a vegetarian’s nightmare. Fried chicken shops aside, the wider area of East London is where all the cool kids hang out: Shoreditch clubs (XOYO anyone?), some pretty amazing pubs and a selection of snazzy second-hand and vintage shops (the East End Thrift Store is five minutes away and Brick Lane just around the corner).
But the best thing about East London is by the far all the feminist hangouts I’ve discovered over the past year. They are a world away from my little seaside town – and every East Londoner should give them a visit. Here are my top five feminist spaces and current events:
- NEW Gen NOW events at The White Building, Hackney, E9
A new project, NEW Gen NOW, has just started at this arts and technology centre: it is a series of talks and events exploring cyberfeminism and feminism’s internet presence and practices. The feminist creative genius behind Girls Get Busy zine, Beth Siveyer, recently gave a talk here addressing online representation for female artists. Contemporary and important.
Nearest tube stop: Hackney Wick overground / http://thewhitebuilding.org.uk
- Gal Space, Limehouse, E1
Gal is an art gallery supporting female artists through exhibitions, events and pop-up shops. It has provided a platform for so many pivotal feminist art projects, including the Beanie Babes products, showcased Vanessa Omoregie’s famous CamGirls project and supported Charlotte Cullen’s Intimates’ Index project.
Nearest tube: Limehouse DLR / www.galspace.tumblr.com
- She Grrrowls events at The Gallery Café, Bethnal Green, E2
Carmina Masoliver’s event, She Grrrowls, is an arts event in Bethnal Green supporting female poetry, spoken word, music and comedy every third Monday. This is ideal for listening to fearless females and spine-tingling spoken word – and sipping beer in a beautiful café.
Nearest tube: Bethnal Green central line / www.shegrrrowls.tumblr.com
- Rich Mix, Shoreditch, E1
This performance venue hosts live music, festivals and cinema screenings. DIY Cultures recently held a zine fair here, including exhibitions and workshops on mental health, creativity and talks on Decolonise It Yourself with Black Feminists and OOMK zine.
Nearest tube stop: Shoreditch High Street overground / http://www.richmix.org.uk/
- Power Lunches, Hackney, E8
This café on Kingsland Road is home to a huge variety of cool arts-related events, supporting female musicians and all sorts of creative fairs. I went to a mini feminist zine fest here a few months ago, which was attended by some amazing women, including the teams from OOMK zine, Girls Get Busy, Tom Tom magazine and SALT zine.
Nearest tube stop: Haggerston overground / http://powerlunchesltd.co.uk
So, fellow QM guys and gals, if you ever feel like a feminist-themed perusal through London, we’re in just the right place. And if you find yourself in Westminster, The Feminist Library is also a good bet for some second-hand theory – and amazing badges. Happy east-end-style feministing!