What is the city but the people? Life has been on ice, but fear not, the end is in sight! Pubs are open and city spirit is back – just in time for the Great British Summer. THE FACE has teamed up withBeefeater, a gin which has encapsulated city culture since it began in London back in 1820. We’ll be finding and meeting the people breathing life into their cities, the contrasting mix of characters converging to celebrate and keep the city’s independent venues and drinking destinations alive – in spirit at least – until we meet again.
FLOHIO sounds like South London. On every track the Lagos-born and Bermondsey bred rapper brings whiplash flow and stare-you-down bars that vie for space on noisy tracks. Don’t call it grime. The music she makes is a clash of the wild-eyed, futurist, political, raw, frenetic, a sound that’s always upending expectations. Just like her ends.
With a breakout track called SE16, there’s no doubting that FLOHIO reps for her hometown. But the connection goes deeper – it’s written into the steely sounds and heart-on-sleeve rage. “What makes the city unique are the people living in it and the beautiful landmarks, the sound of the city, it has its own characteristics,” she says. “What makes my area unique is that we are like the outsiders, people know we are here but can’t seem to figure out exactly where.”
Like a true South Londoner, FLOHIO’s charisma is magnetic. Everyone wants to work with her: from Modeselektor to God Colony, Mike Skinner to Clams Casino. Her 2020 mixtape No Panic, No Pain, finds her teaming up with production heavyweights like FRED and J‑E-T‑S to make music for these uncertain and dystopian times. Released during lockdown, it invites us to bedroom rage along with her.
Like many of us, FLOHIO is at a total loss as to what the future of her beloved city looks like: “There’s so much going on right now that we can only sit it out as things unfold”. But there’s one thing she does know: hope lies with the next gen. “I see a future where it’s not all about these big systems and people running things with a personal agenda. Hopefully there’s more thoughts and investment going into the energy that sparks the city: the youths who want better for where they live.”
Join us on a 24-hour ride around the places where the ballers and misfits of South London head to play.
For all its love of the boujie, South London also has a “farthest corners of Glasto”, crystals and quinoa vibe. Green Onions is that spirit in action: an organic vegan and health food shop that also sells houseplants and vinyl. This is a New Cross community hub. Owners Stefan and Adrian certainly won’t be rushing you out of the door – so come to while away the hours, sipping herbal tea and leafing through seven-inches.
A London tip for you. Want a clue to an authentic boozer? Look out for one with a Thai family kitchen. Counterintuitive though it seems, it reflects both modern London and an independent spirit. Skehan’s is a New Cross institution. Self-proclaimed “purveyors of craic”, they have a well-used dart board, an open fire, regular live music and, of course, a banging pad thai. Bring your own instruments for the Monday night jam sessions.
If you’re in Surrey Quays, chances are you’re bickering with your partner whilst buying tealights, flatpack and scarily cheap hot dogs from a certain Swedish retail behemoth; or you’re starry eyed after an all-night session at rave temple, Printworks. Either way, be glad you’re there. You’re perfectly placed to drop in for authentic and critic-bothering Mexican from this striplight hole in the wall. Order a mess of £4.50 brisket Suadero tacos, drown them in housemade salsas and forget for a moment about the impending futon-build.
FLOHIO’s choice for a night off or a night on, this Elephant and Castle two-room rave den has a solid rep amongst those that know. Come for the high-grade soundsystem and stay for the higher-grade sauna that is the smoking area. Quality labels and promoters – like Bleep43, Plex, Tief and Low Life – choose this spot for all of the above, teamed with a stridently independent spirit that keeps the vibes alive.
A central Peckham basement rave spot with a heart. Production stretches to a red light bulb and a smoke machine and that’s how the loyal locals like it. Here the bashment party comes complete with a resident voguing drag queen. Because TOLA is here for creative freedom and community togetherness. Plus, they now boast a shiny new roof terrace serving up wings and purse-friendly cocktails, giving the people exactly what they want.
If you don’t have a sunset photo of yourself stood atop of Frank’s, top notch negroni in hand, starry-eyed with love for the city and the promise of summer, then you’re probably not a young Londoner. Frank’s has become as much a mainstay of summers in the city as Slush Puppies (two flavours, obvs) and queuing for the lido. Perched on the top floor of a multi-storey in the heart of Peckham and serving barbecued small plates alongside those punchy cocktails, Frank’s is everything that is good about London in one small tarmacked paradise.
Sometimes the best parts of the night are those in-between moments. If lockdown’s taught us anything, it’s to relish the throw-away segments. JB’s are here for all of your post-pub, pre-party pit stop needs. We Brits love a queue. So get in line for quality soul food and jerk. Smoke a cig; chat about who you’ve been chirpsing; order curry goat, punch and rum cake; chirpse some more.
South London takes its status as the sunshine quadrant seriously. And so it is abundant with rooftop options. In steps the Prince of Wales. His name may suggest fusty old boozer, but Brixton’s Prince of Wales is, in fact, a bells and whistles indoor-outdoor rooftop venue boasting a pub-lounge and a two-tiered garden terrace. In the thick of the borough’s frenetic action, it can serve your many moods. Come for cosy pizza and a G&T, a soul-enriching live gig or all-night debauchery.