Visit London Blog » Classes Enjoy the very best of London Tue, 13 Oct 2015 14:49:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Brazil in London Fri, 13 Jun 2014 08:34:00 +0000 The Fontanas. Courtesy of Rich Mix

In case you missed the news (where on earth have you been?) the 2014 FIFA World Cup is being held in Brazil. But you don’t need to jet around the world to get into the spirit, there are plenty of amazing places and ways to enjoy Brazilian culture right here in London.

Here are just a few ideas to get you started – from dancing up a storm to sipping delicious rum cocktails.

Brazilian cocktails in London

Made in Brasil cocktail and snacks

The caipirinha is the most popular of Brazil’s cocktails – a refreshing kick of cachaça (sugar cane rum), sugar and lime. Enjoy a classic caipirinha – or one of the many spin-offs, made with fresh fruit – at the newly opened pop-up Barzinho in Soho, Guanabara in Covent Garden or Floripa in Old Street.

Brazilian restaurants in London

Brazil is famous for its barbeques (or churrascaria) – and Brazilians know a thing or two about grilling meat to perfection. Find out for yourself at London chain Rodizio Rico, which has branches in The O2, Islington and Notting Hill. Other dining options include Raizes in Hackney, Barraco in Kilburn or the Japanese-flavoured Sushisamba in the City. While other favourite dishes to look out for include Brazil’s national dish, feijoada (a hearty bean and pork stew), moqueca (a tasty fish stew made with coconut milk) and the deliciously sweet pudim (a caramel-like flan made with condensed milk).

Brazilian music in London

Made in Brasil

The Brazilian music scene is big in London – and growing all the time. To hear live music, you need to head to places like Vauxhall restaurant/bar Tia Maria, glitzy Covent Garden bar Guanabara and Camden restaurant/bar Made in Brasil. As well as samba you’ll find choro, bossa nova, forro, MPB… the list goes on. Many non-Brazilian venues also hold regular Brazilian music nights too, such as Ronnie’s Bar (above famous Soho jazz club Ronnie Scott’s) and Primo near Westminster. And don’t forget to look out for samba, samba reggae and maracatu bands and dancers parading at the Notting Hill Carnival in August.

Brazilian dance in London

Brasil Brasileiro. Courtesy: Sadler's Wells

Like with music, there are many different forms of Brazilian dance – and you find many of them in London. Learn how to shimmy to samba at the London School of Samba itself, partner up for forro dancing (Forro London lists all the different forro nights in London), discover empowering maracatu and samba reggae dance with Gandaia Arts in Brixton, cross continents with Irineu Nogueira’s fierce Afro-Brazilian dance sessions… you could dance every night of the week! If you prefer to watch rather than participate, why not check out Brasil Brasileiro, coming to top dance venue Sadler’s Wells on 8 July.

Brazilian martial arts in London

If you prefer your dance with bite, seek out Brazil’s famous martial arts/dance form: capoeira. You can learn to ‘ginga’ (and the rest) at the many capoeira schools across London. Another popular Brazilian martial art is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu – a self-defence sport focused on grappling and ground fighting. Just make sure you don’t get the two mixed up!

Brazilian events in London

Joga Bola! at Rich Mix

If you want to find out what Brazilian events are happening in your area or right now, pay a visit to, a great online resource of Brazilian happenings and culture – with a handy monthly newsletter. Other top sites to visit include Brazilian/Latin American magazine Jungle Drums and the website of London’s Brazilian Embassy. Just three upcoming events not to miss include: the World Cup kickoff party Brazil Day at Trafalgar Square on 12 June, musical feast Joga Bola! at Rich Mix (from 12 June to 13 July) – with The Fontanas (pictured top) and many more, and Radical Geometry: Modern Art of South America at the Royal Academy of Arts (5 Jul-28 Sep).

Find out where to watch the World Cup in London.

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Grace Kelly’s London Mon, 12 May 2014 07:30:40 +0000 Blog post by Kate White

Grace Kelly and James Stewart in Rear Window. Courtesy of the BFI.

London has always been a magnet for the famous and fabulous, and Hollywood royalty Grace Kelly was no exception. As one of the world’s most stylish women, it’s no surprise that the actress-turned-princess loved the finer things the capital had to offer. To celebrate the upcoming release of new biopic Grace Of Monaco, starring Nicole Kidman, we’ve rounded up a few ways to experience London Grace Kelly-style, without having a movie star’s bank balance.

The Connaught

The Connaught
Grace always checked-in at plush Mayfair hotel The Connaught. You might balk at the cost of the penthouse suite, but in their charming cocktail bar you can indulge on a smaller scale. You’ll be in good hands because the bartenders there can knock you up a cocktail inspired by their famous former guest. These delectable drinks aren’t on the menu so only those in the know now request them. It’s a divine way to toast Princess Grace and end your night feeling as fancy as royalty.

Ray StitchLearn to make a Grace Kelly-style dress at Ray Stitch
You can’t think of Grace without picturing a wardrobe to die for. Ms Kelly has never gone out of fashion and Islington-based sewing school Ray Stitch is running a special course where you can make your own Grace dress. Their experienced teachers will guide you through a Vintage Vogue pattern and, after you’ve created your gorgeous gown, you can hit the Big Smoke knowing you look good enough for your close up. The class takes place over four Friday evening sessions, beginning 20 June.

Alfred Hitchcock

The Alfred Hitchcock London Locations Walk
She became a professional princess but who could forget Grace’s other day job on the silver screen? It was in front of Alfred Hitchcock’s camera that she really shone and the pair collaborated on three iconic movies – To Catch A Thief, Rear Window and Dial M For Murder. Take film historian Sandra Shevey’s fascinating walking tour to get the lowdown on the legendary director, his London locations and the story behind the Hitchcock blonde. The walk runs three times a week and lasts for three hours, plenty of time to grill Sandra, who met and interviewed Hitchcock in 1972, about Alfred and his obsession with Grace.

Cafe de Paris

Café de Paris
Her own style was classic and elegant so it’s no wonder that Grace’s favourite restaurant in London was Café de Paris. Built in 1924 and located in the heart of the West End, the sparkling cabaret club is still bewitching guests to this day. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a delicious meal and to take in one of their legendary stage shows, all the while turning heads as you swish around in your bespoke Grace gown.

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Sewing in London: A Guide to Sewing Classes, Shops and Museums Tue, 08 Apr 2014 13:48:45 +0000 Are you a fan of the BBC TV series The Great British Sewing Bee? Here are some ideas for sewing themed fun in London:

Geffrye Museum

The first series of The Great British Sewing Bee was filmed in Dalston; you can plan your next sewing project with tea and cake at The Other Café and Gallery where the contestants had lunch. From there it’s easy to hop on a bus down to the Geffrye Museum to see the vintage interiors, and then visit the area around Spitalfields market, where you’ll find a hive of independent designers/makers selling beautiful things.

Don’t miss the Sunday Upmarket near Brick Lane, which homes 140 stalls selling crafts, interiors and accessories. Cavernous fabric shop Crescent Trading in Shoreditch also merits exploration.

London Sewing Machine Museum

One episode of the second series included a short film made at the London Sewing Machine Museum. The Tooting-based museum is open on the first Sunday of the month and includes three rooms of gorgeous antique sewing machines and sewing memorabilia. It’s sited above a huge sewing machine shop where you can get your machine repaired or buy a reconditioned one. You’ll also find a big craft shop next door selling fabric, patterns and haberdashery.

One of the finest collection of fashion and textiles in the world can be found at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. As well as the fashion galleries, there are regular fashion exhibitions and you’ll discover beautiful textile items displayed throughout the museum.

If you were inspired by the patternless draping in the second series semi-finals, the V&A has some Vionnet dresses in its collection, but none are currently on display. If you want to see them, you might want to consider a visit to the Clothworkers Centre for the Study and Conservation of Textiles where you can make an appointment to study items from the national collection of textiles and fashion.

London’s amazing Fashion and Textile Museum has also been featured on the show and has a full schedule of classes and exhibitions devoted to sewing, design and creativity.

Savile Row

Find out more about London’s history of traditional tailoring at Savile Row. Dishy Sewing Bee judge Patrick Grant is the creative director of Norton & Sons (established 1821) at Number 16 Savile Row.

You’ll find many sewing classes in London. Some of the best places to take a class include Liberty, Fabrications, Ray Stitch, Sew Over It and The Thrifty Stitcher (where you can take masterclasses run by the Great British Sewing Bee’s sewing producer!).

A shop in Southall

If the modification challenge is more your thing, head to Sew Good in Kilburn. Run by the charity Traid, you can learn to mend and upcycle your valued clothes. If vintage techniques inspire you, check out the classes at The School of Historical Dress. If you’re looking for amazing embroidered trims, have a hunt around the shops in Southall.

Learn how to decorate your projects with goldwork embroidery with a weekend class at Hand & Lock or The Royal School of Embroidery at Hampton Court Palace.

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Spring in London: Lambs, Daffodils and the Great Outdoors! Mon, 07 Apr 2014 08:58:44 +0000 Newborn lamb at Woodlands Farm

Spring has sprung! Celebrate the change in season by enjoying some traditional (and not-so traditional) spring festivities in London.

Newborn lambs at Woodlands Farm

There’s nothing cuter than a lamb at springtime, and at Woodlands Farm in south-east London you can see some very newborn lambs – the eldest were born on 20 March! Make a day of it and explore the rest of the 89-acre working farm while you’re there, including its native bird species, butterflies, amphibians, wild flowers and ancient woodland.

Spring spectacular at Kew Gardens

Every day until 30 April, Kew’s volunteer guides are leading walks around the Botanical Gardens to take in the colourful spring bulbs, blossom and lesser-known species. The hour-long Spring Spectacular tours start at 12pm and are run on a first come, first serve basis – with a maximum of 15 people on each.
Cost: Free with your ticket into Kew Gardens (£14.50 for adults, free for children under 16 accompanied by an adult). Book your ticket now

Wild daffodils at Lesnes Abbey Woods. © Natural England

Native wild daffodils at Lesnes Abbey Wood

Lesnes Abbey Wood in Bexley is the only site in London where you’ll find wild daffodils growing naturally – as opposed to the cultivated variety we’re used to seeing. A real hidden gem of southeast London, the woods sit alongside ruins of a 12th century abbey and a fossil bed – where you can actually dig for fossils. They’ve already found specimens from 54.5 million years ago, seashells and sharks’ teeth, so who knows what you’ll find!
Cost: Free

Green Gym

As well as lambs, daffodils and sunshine, spring brings a sense of rising panic – as people rush to get into shape before summer! Forget faddy diets or expensive bootcamps, with Green Gyms you can get fit for free, enjoy the great outdoors and do good – all at the same time. Visit The Conservation Volunteers website to find your nearest ‘workout’.
Cost: Free

Keats House. Image courtesy of Keats House

Keats House Poets Present…

Seeking inspiration from nature, the changing season and ideas of rebirth and regeneration, poets Deanna Rodger and Kaamil Ahmed lead a creative writing workshop, Keats House Poets Present… – in none other than Keats House, once home to the famous Romantic poet himself.
Cost: Free with entry to Keats House (£5.50 for over 17s, free for under 17s, with tickets valid for a whole year). Book your workshop space in advance through Eventbrite.

The Rite of Spring at Sadler’s Wells

This spring, Fabulous Beast Dance Theatre are back at Sadler’s Wells with their dark, shocking interpretation of Stravinsky’s masterpiece The Rite of Spring, told through the imagery of a pagan fertility rite. The other half of the double-bill performance is, by contrast, a bright production of Petrushka, drawing on folk dances. The cast includes 13 international dancers, accompanied by a 65-piece orchestra from the Royal Ballet Sinfonia. Probably not one for the kids, but a healthy reminder of the darker side of spring and nature.
Cost: From £12

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G&T Time: Gin Lovers’ London Tue, 03 Dec 2013 10:30:06 +0000 Gin at The London Gin Club

Gin has had a rollercoaster history in London. Once the favoured drink of London’s poorest (and nicknamed ‘Mother’s ruin’), it gradually improved in quality and by the mid-19th century was enjoyed by well-heeled punters in ornate gin palaces.

Later, younger generations began to turn their noses up at what was seen as an old-fashioned spirit – until a recent gin revival made it the hottest drink in town. Get on the bandwagon at these top London gin attractions.

The London Gin Club

The London Gin Club

Every night (except Sunday and Monday), family-run Soho bar The Star At Night plays host to The London Gin Club. Step into this tiny bar and you’ll find more than 70 gins to choose from, including a new, limited stock of vintage gins from the 1950s, 60s and 70s. There’s also an experimental Ginventor menu and Gin Tasting Menus – complete with balloon glasses, hand-cracked ice, paired garnishes and Fever-Tree tonic.

Martini Masterclass at Dukes Bar

James Bond author Ian Fleming was a regular at the Dukes Bar, and it’s said that the inspiration for the classic catchphrase ‘Shaken, not stirred’ came from here. Today you can learn the tricks of the trade directly from Dukes’ expert barman on a Martini Masterclass. You’ll make the bar’s signature martini and other classic cocktails, learn the history behind each and then, of course, taste your handiwork with some tasty canapés.

Gin Joint at the Barbican

Gin Joint at the Barbican

Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world… you have to walk into this one. Located on the second floor of the Barbican Centre, The Gin Joint is a slick, smart brasserie and bar (from Searcy’s) serving only London dry gin or varieties distilled in the same style. Choose from gin with a mixer, gin on tap (a first in the city, it claims) and six signature gin cocktails. Head along from 5-8pm to enjoy any G&T for £7.50.

The London Distillery Company Tour

As the popularity of gin has grown in recent years, so has the number of people distilling right here in the capital – putting the London back in ‘London Dry Gin’ (the term refers to the distilling process not its geographical origins). The London Distillery Company has gone one step further and opened its Battersea home to (pre-booked) tours. You’ll learn about gin and the distilling process, find out about TLDC’s own gins (Dodd’s Gin and the TESTBED Anglo-American range) and naturally partake in some sampling.

Bourne & Hollingsworth

Bourne & Hollingsworth

Cosy prohibition-style bar Bourne & Hollingsworth is known for its retro parlour décor and cocktails served in teacups. Gin favourites on the menu include Gardener’s Tea Break with Hendricks gin and green tea syrup; Hollingsworth fizz with egg white and soda; and the wonderfully named The Wibble, mixing gin and sloe gin.


A stylish, design-led alternative to London’s traditional gin palace-style bars (such as The Worship Street Whistling Shop and The Viaduct Tavern), Graphic showcases work by contemporary artists such as Ben Allen, Eine and Turner Prize winner Mark Wallinger. But gin is no sideline here, with an incredible 180 gins on the menu – the most extensive gin collection in the UK. Opt for the ‘Gold’ Paint Tin Punch and it will come delivered with a blast of Spandau Ballet’s hit record of the same name.

Gin & Jazz at Intercontinental London Park Lane

Gin & Jazz at Inter Continental London Park Lane

Flapper dresses, gin cocktails, vintage jazz… every month the Intercontinental London Park Lane Hotel revives the golden 1920s with a night of Gin & Jazz. On the menu you’ll find 40 different gins, sharing plates and a veritable cocktail of music from the likes of The Swing Ninjas and The FB Pocket. It’s the cat’s meow.

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London for Chocolate Lovers Tue, 19 Nov 2013 08:50:07 +0000

Chocolate has been a rich, delicious part of London life ever since 1657, when the first chocolate house opened in Bishopsgate.

These days, London is a veritable chocolate kingdom, home to chocolate shops, tastings, workshops, tours and even festivals. Here are some of our favourite chocolate-related activities to get you started.

The London Chocolate Festival at the Southbank Centre

The tempting (and free!) London Chocolate Festival returns to the Southbank Centre Square (behind the Royal Festival Hall) from 13-15 December. Head down to create your perfect chocolate bar, learn from the experts at the Masters of Chocolate Afternoon and, of course, indulge your cocoa cravings.

The Chocolate Ecstasy Tour

The Chocolate Ecstasy Tour is the guilt-free way to sample delicious chocolate in London – all that walking will burn off any calories, right? After enjoying a hot chocolate you’ll take to the streets in pursuit of the finest chocolate in town, while learning about the history of cocoa in the capital. There are four tours to choose from: the traditional Mayfair Chocolate Ecstasy Tour, the cutting-edge Chelsea Chocolate Ecstasy Tour, the Evening Chocolate Ecstasy Tour (including a chocolate cocktail) and the Full Day Chocolate Ecstasy Tour.


Paul A Young at Heal’s

Award-winning chocolatier Paul A Young has four stores in London, including a newly-opened shop/café at Heal’s on Tottenham Court Road. All the chocolates are handmade by Paul and his team using fresh ingredients – and the proof is in the tasting. Stop by to shop, sample specialist varieties (don’t miss Paul’s famous sea salted caramels) or take part in one of the regular workshops, such as the upcoming ganache making class on 28 November at the flagship Soho branch.

The Chocolate Museum

Chocolate has a long, colourful history in London. At The Chocolate Museum in Brixton you can discover more about its bittersweet past in the British History of Chocolate exhibition, featuring chocolate memorabilia dating back as far as the 18th century. There’s also a café and a busy programme of events, tasting sessions and workshops for all ages.


Menier Chocolate Factory

With a cosy restaurant upstairs and a fabulous theatre downstairs, Menier Chocolate Factory is a hidden gem close to London Bridge. Each set menu is inspired by the whatever show is on at the theatre, currently Candide, Leonard Bernstein’s witty adaptation of the 18th century novella by Voltaire – so expect Hungarian beef goulash and vegetable stroganoff. Or go for the a la carte menu, which features the very decadent Menier chocolate platter.

Charlie & The Chocolate Factory at Theatre Royal Drury Lane

Willy Wonka, Charlie Bucket and the Oompa-Loompas are back in a new musical adaptation of Roald Dahl’s much-loved book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Directed by Sam Mendes, this dazzling production uses imagination and innovation to bring the world of Willy Wonka to life – from the chocolate garden to the army of squirrels. Get your golden ticket now!

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Fancy a Cuppa? London’s Top 10 Tea Attractions Tue, 02 Jul 2013 14:09:20 +0000

Tea is a British institution – and obsession. For Londoners, a cup of ‘Rosie lea’ (as the cockney rhyming slang goes) is a social occasion, an icebreaker and a cure for everything. Explore the history, current trends and endless varieties of tea at these tea-lightful London attractions.

Mad For Tea exhibition at Fortnum & Mason
Until 28 July, fancy London department store Fortum & Mason is hosting Mad For Tea, a free exhibition all about the cuppa. You can admire fine silver, teapots and tea cosies from the past, discover new styles from contemporary designers and learn about the importance of tea in Britain. Want to get more hands on? Book a place on one of Fortnum & Mason’s upcoming tea workshops or talks, including Tea Tasting: An Introduction on 27 June, Afternoon Tea Q&A on 11 July and the Tea Lecture on 25 July. Don’t forget to buy some of the store’s famous own brand tea on your way out.

twinings_smallTwinings Strand Shop & Museum
Twinings Strand Shop & Museum has a long and fascinating history. Bought in 1706 by Thomas Twining, the shop was originally one of London’s many coffee houses – but came to be known for its unique sideline in tea. As tea became more and more fashionable, business boomed – attracting the likes of Jane Austen and Charles II. Today the store boasts a Sampling Counter, Loose Tea Bar and a fascinating miniature museum – featuring old teapots and caddies, vintage advertising and packaging, and old Twining family photos.

The Way of Tea at the British Museum
Still quick-dunking your teabag in a cup of boiling water? Learn how it’s done properly at The Way of Tea, a free demonstration of the Japanese tea ceremony at the British Museum’s Mitsubishi Corporation Japanese Galleries on 12 July and 26 July. As well as the demonstration, given by members of the Urasenke London Branch, there’ll be a short history of “tea drinking and gathering” in Japan.

Stock up at Tea Palace
Through its stores in Covent Garden and Chelsea, tea emporium Tea Palace does a roaring trade – selling a selection of more than 120 fairtrade teas and infusions, including flowering teas, herbal Tea Tonics and organic teas. You’ll also find tea-related gifts and accessories, from quirky teapots to swing infusers.

Tea Masterclasses at The Chesterfield Mayfair
How did tea first come to Britain? Are tea bags or loose leaves better? Why are teas different colours? These and more fundamental tea questions are answered by tea experts Jane Pettigrew and Tim Clifton in their comprehensive Tea Masterclasses at The Chesterfield Mayfair. As well as tasting teas and learning how to properly brew, the day course includes lunch and afternoon tea provided by the 4-star hotel.

A proper cuppa at Yumchaa cafés
You won’t find any tea bags on offer at Yumchaa, which firmly believes in the superiority of loose leaves. The typical teabag, they say, “contains mostly tea dust and broken leaf particles”. Oh dear. Thankfully Yumchaa is on hand to offer quality, blended teas – from Soho Spice to Chelsea Chai – brewed in the traditional way. You’ll find Yumcaa café/shops in Camden Lock, Soho, Camden Parkway and Tottenham Street.

Afternoon tea at The Goring
There are many places to enjoy afternoon tea in London, but The Goring has topped them all by winning The Tea Guild’s Top London Afternoon Tea Award 2013. The five-star hotel has been serving afternoon tea since it opened in 1910 and currently offers three afternoon tea options: The Coronation Afternoon Tea to celebrate the 60th anniversary of The Queen’s Coronation, Traditional Afternoon Tea and Bollinger Afternoon Tea. Enjoy yours on the sunny terrace overlooking The Goring’s private gardens or inside the cosy lounge.

Tea artefacts at the Museum of London
Keep an eye out at the Museum of London and you’re sure to spot fascinating relics from London’s tea trading and drinking past. Just a few items on display include a cup and saucer featuring suffragette Sylvia Pankhurst’s ‘angel of freedom’ logo, a 19th Century doll’s house tea service and a ‘chop book’ used to document tea dealings between London dock officials and Chinese sailors.

Seasonal Tea Library at Brown’s Hotel
Brown’s Hotel offers a delicious afternoon tea in its dedicated English Tea Room, but not many people know it also has a Seasonal Tea Library. Curated by tea traders Lalani & Company, the library consists of a carefully selected collection of teas, sourced from top family-owned tea gardens around the world. Pop in to sample varieties from the Summer 2013 Library collection, such as Himalayan 2nd Flush Grand reserve (Darjeeling 2011) and Jade Mountain Roasted Oolong (Taiwan 2012).

Bubble tea at Bubbleology
The latest trend in tea right now in London is bubble tea. A Taiwanese creation, bubble tea is fruit or milk tea served ice cold or hot with tapioca balls, which can be sucked up through a large straw. Bubbleology’s five stores (in Soho, Knightsbridge, Notting Hill, Westfield Stratford and South Kensington) offer seven milk tea and six fruit tea varieties, including Ginger Red Tea, Mocha Pearl Tea and Mango Green tea.

Fancy another cup? Try one of London’s best afternoon teas

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Street Dance Class at City Academy Wed, 27 Jun 2012 11:41:48 +0000  Every Thursday evening for the last eight weeks I’ve been upstairs in an arty building, dipping, sliding and body-popping, at City Academy’s Beginners’ Street Dance Class. You know the sort of moves: the twists and turns you see dancers doing in Beyonce, Bieber and Britney’s music videos.

We start with an upbeat warm up and stretch; the ideal way to shake off the fast pace of London living. We then go straight into a recap of the moves we learnt the week before – and build up from just a handful of steps to a complete dance. All the while the music is loud enough to drown out the noise of London for an hour and a half, so you walk out feeling energised and ready to go again.

Our teacher Daniel was superb, really approachable and very patient, getting us all in the mood to have fun. The class was paced to cater for all levels of ability with Daniel adapting and adjusting the routines by speeding things up and adding harder moves. 

City Academy’s Street Dance class was extremely rewarding – especially when you surprise yourself and get a few moves right!  The class is also a great way to meet people, this it what some of the class had to say about the experience:

“I loved it and found it amazing. Dancing in front of other people really helped me come out of my shell.”
Michelle, 27 

“Better than Star Wars”
Dave, 32 

“It’s really good fun, makes you feel happy.”
Freya, 29

“Let your inner Sasha Fierce out!”
Blair 24  

“Daniel is the best and nicest dance teacher. He made us laugh so much, I’m in love when I watch his dancing! Everyone was amazing and really supportive – great atmosphere!”
Min, 28 and Carol, 27

“Everyone works better as a team. This class was something completely out of the norm for me, a personal risk that was really worth it.”
Iain, 27

“Best dance class I’ve found in London. You think you can’t dance? Think again. I’ve done other dance classes and this was the best.”
Karen, 29

Fancy a go? City Academy offer a range of dance, theatre, comedy and performance classes in London.

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Fabrications, Broadway Market Tue, 22 May 2012 16:34:24 +0000

Fabrications in Hackney is hiding an exciting secret in the basement – a brand new Imaginerium workshop space for craft classes and fun.

Established over a decade ago in Broadway Market, Fabrications is a studio, gallery and shop that has already made a mark in the London craft scene, bringing contemporary textiles to a wider audience and actively supporting craftivism – using craft to change the world for the better.

On Saturday I was invited along to an open day to see the new space and sew a grocery bag based on the design of a standard a carrier bag, but from pretty offcuts of fabric – a perfect example of recycling and modern design. (You’ll need a large grocery bag if you go to Broadway Market, especially if you love fresh walnut bread from artisan bakers and your willpower is enfeebled by the siren song of a nice bit of cheese.)

The room is kitted out with all the essentials you’ll need to make beautiful things, including new sewing machines and tea. A large glass roof at the back lets in lots of natural light. The new space is a warm, welcoming and friendly place.

The classes reflect designer and Fabrications owner Barley Massey’s passion for upcycling, eco design and passing on useful traditional skills. You can learn to knit, sew, quilt and make clothes. There are also classes where you can transform the boring things in the back of your wardrobe into something new and personalised, make yarn from old clothes and a craft club where you can bring along your latest project for advice.

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Gorilla Circus Flying Trapeze School Mon, 16 May 2011 15:30:39 +0000

Since seeing Les 7 Doigts de la Main at the Peacock Theatre last year, I have had a burning desire to run away and join the circus.

This Sunday, I got as far as Walpole Park in Ealing and spent an afternoon flying upside down at the Gorilla Circus flying trapeze school – one of the only two flying trapeze schools in the UK that are open to the general public, and the only circus school in London that takes place outside.

A quick warm-up on the practice bar and we were up the ladder ready to have a go. Under the instruction of Erza and Debs, who have 20 plus years of gymnastics and circus performance experience between them, the group were ready to fly within minutes.

The below video shows my final attempt, where you get the opportunity to be caught by Debs who is on the other trapeze. As you can see, it’s all about the timing, which wasn’t my strong point on this attempt!

The classes are a really fun couple of hours and open to people of all ages and sizes. With a maximum of 10 in each group, you get a good few flights in each session. Flying trapeze classes this summer cost £22.50 per person and will be held at Acton Green, Regent’s Park and Battersea Park – booking essential.

See for more information.

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