In the city of London, all music tastes are catered to. Yet, the role the city played in the rise of indie music in the 90s and 00s put London on the international indie map, and even though indie may not be as big as it has been in the past few decades, there is still an appetite for the indie hits – old and new.
Before the 90s, bands were mostly unseen if they weren’t on one of the four major labels. However, during the 90s, the rise of indie started to define alternative culture, which was mostly down to the London indie record labels, Rough Trade, Domino, and Mute, and many of the music venues which can still be frequented today!
So, if you want to hear some music from Arctic Monkeys, The Killers, Florence and the Machine, The Kinks, Franz Ferdinand, Joy Division, Oasis and the Smiths outside of your playlists and meet some like-minded indie lovers, this 10 top indie clubs in London list will have you covered.
In many of the venues outlined below, you will also get the opportunity to see live music from the up-and-coming indie acts before the DJs find their place behind the turntable and spin you into hedonistic indie music nostalgia. So grab your worn-in converse, band tees and oversized cardigans and prepare for a raucously electrifying night!
How to Find the Best Indie Club Nights in London
In our run-down of the 10 top indie clubs in London, we have scoured through each district and found the liveliest venues to make it easier for indie music fans to cross iconic indie venues off their bucket lists. However, to make searching for the best indie night easier, we would advise using an event listing platform such as Event Brite, which will allow you to never miss an indie beat!
10 Top Indie Clubs in London
1. The Lexington
There is a good reason why the Lexington in Islington features at the top of the 10 top indie clubs in London list. The award-winning bar and live music venue hosts its iconic White Heat Club night every Friday, where attendees can hear everything from indie bangers to rock and roll to left-field floor fillers to new wave hits. The indie action kicks off at 11 PM sharp, and with £6 double vodkas on offer behind the bar all night, you can party like it is 2008!
When the DJs aren’t spinning classic indie hits from the likes of Fleetwood Mac, Arcade Fire, Talking Heads, and New Order, they will be introducing you to some of the freshest hits on the indie scene from artists such as Wet Leg, Dry Cleaning and Sports Team. You’ll even find a few indie icons behind the decks too! Simon D Rowner of Desperate Journalist, often makes an appearance and is all too happy to take your indie requests!
2. O2 Academy Islington
Every week, without fail, The O2 Academy Islington hosts its Not Another Indie Disco night every Saturday. The venue may not have the same traditional London boozer appeal of the Victoria or the Lexington, but it never fails to attract a lively crowd, which needs little temptation to hit the sticky dancefloor.
From 10:30 PM – 3:30 AM, your soundtrack will be indie anthems from across the ages, including all the biggest current hits – you may just find a few new playlist staples when the DJs are throwing aural curveballs your way! Of course, it is always worth checking out the live listings too, considering that unlike most of the other London indie music venues, the bigger acts are still in the habit of returning to the venue!
3. The Old Blue Last
If any London music venue proves that indie and rock n roll go hand in hand, it is most definitely The Old Blue Last – as proven by the tagline on their website, “we’ve had so much fun, the roof has caved in on us twice”. If that wasn’t enough to make you grab your pants and jacket (the Blink-182 reference works in this context!), the fact that the venue claims to be haunted by Shakespeare just might!
300 years of music history has happened under the fragile roof of The Old Blue Last, which has only just clawed back its indie status. Now and again, the music venue puts on free gigs, but even when the gig tickets come at a cost, tight budgets will easily stretch to cover the cost! Before the gigs take place, there is plenty of incentive to get down early to take advantage of the early bird £4 drinks offers in the bar, where you will also have your aural fill of classic hits.
4. The Victoria
Even on weekdays, there is always a buzz reverberating around The Victoria in Dalston. For the past 100 years, it has remained a pivotal community hub; the times may have changed, but the atmosphere is still just as welcoming in the Victorian-era pub.
The Victoria is slightly more sophisticated than your average indie venue that serves paint-stripper-tasting vodka; on the drinks menu, you will find everything from the JaguarShoes classic cocktails to vegan wines to organic wines to locally brewed craft beers.
Music-wise, for the past three decades, some of the most legendary indie gigs have happened under the roof of The Victoria, and the venue certainly doesn’t let the side down on the event front either. In 2015, The Victoria became one of the best indie clubs in East London by partnering with industry-leading promoters, including DHP, Eat Your Own Ears, Bad Vibrations, Parallel Lines, and Bird on the Wire.
No indie music lover in London should pass up the chance to visit KOKO. The venue was recently dubbed by Time Out Magazine as the Cathedral of Camden Sleaze, which tells you everything you need to know about what kind of club KOKO is! Indie and rock n roll infamy oozes from the pores of the walls that have encased some of the most illustrious shows in UK indie history.
The 1,410-capacity venue has been a part of the London landscape since 1900. However, its run hasn’t been easy; in 2019, a fire smouldered through the iconic indie venue, which The Clash, The Rolling Stones, Prince, and Kanye touched down. Even though the infamous copper dome at the top of the building was unsalvageable, the venue was able to reopen in 2022, and the iconic act, Arcade Fire, ensured that the opening weekend went off with a bang.
KOKO is mostly an indie and alternative club, but it doesn’t discriminate all too much genre-wise when it throws open its doors for club nights that run from Sunday to Thursday into the early hours. As there is absolutely no dress code, you can dress to kill or embrace your grungy side.
6. The World’s End
If you want an Indie club in North London, The World’s End in Camden is almost unrivalled. The landmark is a magnet for an eclectic mix of people, epitomising the cultural melting pot that is Camden itself.
While most indie clubs and venues in London can claim that some of the biggest indie bands have plugged in their amps here, only The World’s End can say that Charles Dickins was a patron here. Although he may not be able to recognise The World’s End as it is today. With its industrious and almost steampunk interior, the landmark has clung to its roots, but it has more than moved with the times, considering that it has its own merchandise line!
Beneath the main bar lies the gritty allure of Camden Underworld, which hosts legendary indie, rock and metal club nights in addition to providing a stage for signed and unsigned acts. Indie fans will want to pay particular attention to Blackout Club, which plays the best indie, alt, and rock hits every Friday. As this is a very popular event, purchase a ticket before hitting Camden town to guarantee entry! If you prefer to head out on a Saturday, Camden Rocks Club has you covered!
7. Dublin Castle
If the walls of Dublin Castle could talk, they would almost be as loud as the legendary sets from The Killers, Supergrass, Arctic Monkeys, Coldplay and Blur. Amy Winehouse’s ascent from the underground is also intrinsically tied to the legendary Camden Town venue. If all of the aforementioned wasn’t enough to inspire you to take time out of your schedule to visit, the fact that Dublin Castle is dubbed as the birthplace of Britpop just might!
Head down to the venue before the bands play, as there are cheap drink offers before 6 PM. On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, DJs will spin you into the early hours. Dublin Castle always goes out of its way to create unique club nights; take the Clash Vs Ramones night for the perfect example!
8. Retro bar
Retro Bar in Strand is somewhat of a hidden gem and secret haven for the indie-loving LGBTQIA+ crowd in London, but we couldn’t help letting the cat out of the bag to include it on this list of the top 10 indie clubs in London! Most nights, Retro bar closes at 11 PM, so you may not be able to come home with the milkman when finishing a night here. Although, as the chic 17th-century bar opens at 2 – 4 PM each day, it is a great Instagram-worthy meeting place.
Retro Bar is one of the friendliest gay bars in the West End; ever since the 90s, it has been proud to provide a welcoming and safe space for all music lovers who feel like they don’t belong anywhere else. Even though the bar doesn’t offer your usual indie club nights, there are indie DJs every Friday night from 8 PM – 11 PM, in addition to drag bingo and music quizzes! Another reason to put Retro Bar on your bucket list is the classic cocktail menu, which includes everything from Bloody Marys to Dutch Mules to Cranberry Crushes.
9. The Hope & Anchor
No indie club in London does bohemia better than The Hope & Anchor in Islington. Every night of the week, a new band plays on stage, following in the footsteps of U2, The Cure, The Pogues, and the Police. Rumour has it that Keane even played their first gig at the Hope & Anchor in 1998! Stiff Records, one of the most important indie labels in their history, was established here too!
The always-bustling pub boasts export transport links, so no matter which area of London you are pouring in from, getting home from one of London’s most famous music venues will never be too much of an issue!
The venue frequently hosts album launch parties, secret gigs, and community nights, such as International Women’s Day events. While its club listings may be few and far between, The Hope & Anchor is worth visiting for its history alone – but that is not to say the unsigned bands that appear on the bill aren’t worth watching either!
10. The Abbey Tavern
We are finishing the top 10 indie clubs in London list with a wildcard entry with the Abbey Tavern on Kentish Town Road. It is one of the only venues for indie music fans that boasts a roof terrace and a beer garden – in the summer, there is always a vibrant atmosphere around The Abbey Tavern. It is still worth a visit in the chillier months, as The Abbey Tavern serves some of the best Sunday Roasts in London!
As The Abbey Tavern can get a little busy, we recommend booking a table if you are intent on checking out the indie lover’s joint, which always has live indie DJs at the weekend. Or heading down to the traditional British boozer on a weekday when the indie boozer is a little quieter.