By Liz Marvin
The latest addition to Brixton’s smorgasboard of drinking establishments opened last night, to a full house and much rockin’ and a rollin’. The Effra Social is owned by Antic London, whose ever-growing portfolio of South London boozers includes Dogstar, The Tooting Tram Shed and, most similarly to the Effra Social, the Balham Bowls club.
These pubs all have at least a bit of a vintage theme in there somewhere and the Effra Social, housed in the rambling former premises of the Conservative Club, is no exception. The opening night was very much 1950s themed, with brilliantly brylcreamed and bequiffed, Conrad and the Atomiks setting the musical tone, while dancers from Swingland lindyhopped impressively across the floor.
Despite there having been much evidence of renovation over the past couple of months, aesthetically they have barely touched the place. And I do mean this as a compliment. The old club room has retained its wood panelling, velvet curtains, and curved stage, and it looks great. The corridor that leads to it is festooned with trophy cabinet and slightly awful portrait of the queen that makes you feel like you’ve turned up at a particularly kitsch 1950s grammar school. The inescapable bunting was of course present (honestly, how did we decorate stuff before bunting came back into fashion?), but sheets of music pegged to washing lines was at least a creative twist on this persistent theme in the bar.
There’s still a lot of work to be done to the place. The upstairs rooms aren’t finished yet, and the much-vaunted back garden wasn’t open last night. The toilets are absolutely hideous. A lot of effort has gone into painting the ladies loos pink and covered in knitting patterns, but the actual plumbing has been completely and disastrously overlooked. Although, considering there was still a skip out the front at 4pm yesterday afternoon you could argue they’ve done pretty well to be open at all.
Opening celebrations continue all this weekend, with three-piece Juke Box Heroes playing tonight and soul music taking over on Saturday, open until 1am both nights. Laid back, a little bit trendy but happily frayed at the edges, I think the Effra Social is going to be very popular indeed.
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