Finally it’s here. The winter we were longing for. The bells are jingling (in the streets as well as on jumpers), and the mood is festive. At the rooftop of Queen Elisabeth Hall at Southbank Center, there is Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Christmas Carol; Hampton Court Palace ice ring is booked, and so is the Skate at Somerset House. Regent Street Christmas lights are on, and an ambrosial odour of mulled wine is spreading at Covent Garden Market; we are keen to check out Kingston upon Thames artisans. Lightopia Festival is happening at Crystal Palace Park; at Depford, a giant Christmas tree in front of Dog and Bell pub has been set.
A snow-person with tomato-coloured eyes
On top of that, it snowed, Londoners threw snowballs across the platform, wrote their names in piles of snow, ate snowflakes straight from the sky, and made snow-people. The mood is jolly, merry, and happy.
The tune is Brenda Lee - Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree
In the 16th AKA "❄️ Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!" Issue
Hopping (What’s going on in London: Hand-picked and unmissable events): An 18-piece big band New Regency Orchestra is playing at the Colour Factory, and Harry Ling is improvising at Vortex. You can catch a Sofar Sound at Queen’s Park.
Water Cooler Talk (Local news that you need to know to survive or just to speak of): Have you met Jack, the founder and wonderer of Living London History?
What’s Cooking (Selected places to eat, drink, cafés, food markets): Brilliant Corners: Cocktail bar turning into a Japanese restaurant converting into a dance floor.
Londoner (A talk with a creative inhabitant): This week we are meeting Billur 'Bibi' Yapıcı. She will guide us to The Starman Pub where David Bowie's studio was located for a while.
Hark1karan, Day Out With the Girls
KISAAN Q&A + Book Signing by Hark1karan
What is it? Book signing. Q&A with community photographer Hark1karan whose Sikh faith and Punjabi upbringing have long influenced his coverage, portraits, and fashion photography.
Where? Photobookcafe, EC2A 4DQ
When? 13 December
Why should you go? Before the event, have a look at his latest book: 'PIND: Portrait of a Village in Rural Punjab'. It’s an important story to connect generations and diaspora across the globe.
Duly noted: The Photobookcafe runs photographic zine and artist book workshops by curator Matt Martin. These group workshops are £100 per person (max group of 5) or £200 1/1.
New Regency Orchestra, Brighton Festival
New Regency Orchestra
What is it? Concert. New Regency Orchestra, an 18-piece big band will be playing chunky arrangements of 50s Afro-Cuban Jazz & 70s Guaguanco.
Where? Colour Factory
When? 16 December
Why should you go? Hosted by Total Refreshment Centre which has played a central part in fostering London's jazz and dance music scene, you will dance to vibrant Latin tunes.
Duly noted: Before the concert, stop by the Slice Club for NYC-inspired pizza slices. The garlic mushroom one is a delight.
Sofar Sound, Brixton
Sofar Sounds at Queen’s Park
What is it? Live gig. For the ones who don’t know Sofar Sounds, this is an intimate concert featuring talented artists in surprise venues.
Where? Queen’s Park (the exact place will be revealed to ticket holders 36 hours prior)
When? 16 December
Why should you go? Jack Harlow played at Sofar Austin; Nai Palm, co-founder of Hiatus Kaiyote was at NYC in 2012; Andra Day, nominated for best R&B album at Grammy Awards was a regular at San Diego & Los Angeles. Who knows who you can come across?
Duly noted: This will be an all-female line-up.
Harry Ling, the founder of Mackwood
What is it? Live gig. This is the solo project of drummer Harry Ling who has worked with Yussef Dayes, Loyle Carner and Kokoroko.
When? 16 December
Why should you go? To be mesmerised by the explorative songwriting, powerful jazz improv, and progressive synthesis and sound design of Ling.
Duly noted: Catch a weekly session on Sunday evenings at the Vortex, hosted by four of London’s finest: drummer Jas Kayser, pianist Rick Simpson, tenor saxophonists Helena Kay and Riley Stone-Lonergan.
Photography Kristin Powell
What is it? An all-night Xtravaganza. It honours the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers.
Where? Ormside Projects
When? 17 December
Why should you go? The night will be run as a fundraiser for G.L.I.T.S., and will be hosted by founder Ceyenne Doroshow, with the support of Qween Jean, founder of Black Trans Liberation.
Duly noted: To know more about G.L.I.T.S. (Gays and Lesbians Living in a Transgender Society) here is an interview with the founder Ceyenne Doroshow.
Helena Bonham Carter will be one of the performers
Poetry for Every Day of the Year
What is it? Poetry Reading. Allie Esiri’s book 'A Poem For Every Day of the Year', is a collection of 366 poems compiled by Esiri featuring one poem to share on each day of the year.
Where? National Theater
When? 17 March
Why should you go? To listen to poems read by prominent actors including Helena Bonham Carter.
Duly noted: Here is a video of last year’s reading, the poem is read by Simon Russell Beale, Fay Ripley, Danny Sapani, and Lesley Sharp.
• Have you met Jack? London explorer and walking tour guide. A bizarre pumping station on the Isle of Dogs; a wren spire hidden in a South London housing estate; the amazing history behind London’s Green Cabmen’s Shelters. These and many more are all stories we learn from Jack, stories that makes us fall in love with the city we live in more and more.
A page from London: A Guide for Curious Wanderers
- Jack Chesher's A Guide for Curious Wanderers will be published on 6 April 2023, with illustrations from Katherine Fraser. You can pre-order now.
- Jack is also taking you on various walking tours around London. Marvellous Mayfair Christmas Lights or The hidden Strand: Power, wealth and empire to name a few. You can check his website for more details.
Cocktail bar turning into Japanese restaurant converting to dance floor.
On any given night out, you will come across queues lengthening on the streets of Dalston. Some will take you home like the one for bus 149 or at Dalston Junction before the last overground. Some lead nowhere; the group of people lining up forward the Local Express is actually waiting for their friends inside. Some are only visible to the hungry crowds after 2:00 a.m. in front of kebap/döner/falafel shops; the others are a must: concert nights at EartH. But some lines can be avoided with a little help from local friends before they get insufferable.
If you arrive at the Brilliant Corners (Brillo to some regulars) around 7:00 p.m., the mood will be set for a pleasing cocktail bar. You find space at the counter, order a Natsumeku with gin, and chat with the strangers occupying the same space as you. Around 8:30 p.m. under the dimly lit lights, tofu korokke w/miso aioli is served to the tables. Someone asks for two more pickled daikons. Around 11:00 p.m., when the last checks are being paid, a magical force (actually talented staff of Brilliant Corners) cleans the floor; once a fancy Japanese restaurant becomes a dance hall. Hope, at that moment, you are inside, ready for the DJ sessions on an audiophile system.
Around 7:30 p.m., Brilliant Corners counter
What to order? An old fashioned followed by king oyster mushrooms w/edamame puree & shichimi as a starter, vegan maki w/roasted pepper, avocado & cucumber for main.
Heads Up: Brilliant Corners turns on disco, funk, and afro-beat after 11:00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. But there is always a nice tune going on almost every night of the week.
Bonus: Sibling to Brilliant Corners, a few doors down on the road you will come across Mu. The menu is Japanese, the music is live between Wednesday- Sunday. Reserve a table for jazz nights featuring Conjunto Cubano w/Crispin Ade Egun, Kishon Khan & friends or Yohan Kebede, Rio Kai & Harry Ling.
Meet Billur Yapıcı.
This week we are meeting singer/songwriter/producer Billur (Yapıcı). The song in our hearts, soul and ears is Poisonous Soul.
My nickname: Bibi
After living decades in London, I have recently discovered: The Starman pub in my neighborhood. It was named after David Bowie’s song Starman because it is under the building where David Bowie's studio was located for a while.
I live in: Soho but I’m from Cornwall in my heart because I love wildlife and nature, the ocean, and surfing.
When I want to listen to a live gig, my go-to place is: There is no fixed place for me but there are loads of good venues for big or small events. Some of my favourites are: O2 Academy Brixton, Jazz Cafe, NT’s, Southbank Centre and festivals. I also like random open mic nights in pubs.
For a late night out, this is the destination: Ridley Road Market Bar in Dalson.
Ultimate venue to take the stage: Glastonbury Fest
Billur recording a new song
A record label we must follow because of their vision: Roughtrade and The Young Turks.
This shop is a local gem: Camden Passage Antique Market in Angel. You will find vintage clothes, jewellery and posters.
Only a true Londoner would know: First pub, then kebap.
SHOOT THE BREEZE
As an artist/musician living/creating music in London, how does the city inspire you?
London is inspiring. It is a city that cares about art and artists, encourages them with its freedoms, makes you believe in yourself, that you can do everything, and respects you for everything you do. I think, and I sincerely feel that, every moment that I am not creating is a moment I regret. That's why I want to create, produce, finish and share my new songs, and start performing again.
Billur walking in the neighbourhood
We have heard you opened a 'fresh food salad bar' at Angel named Bibi’s. Can you tell us a little bit about the concept?
Yes, actually this is our 4th Bibi’s in London. We have 3 more, they’re in Soho, Covent Garden and St James. The last one is in Angel. The concept came from the fact that most people in London actually wanted to eat fresh and healthy food but they didn't have many options. There are mostly fast food or frozen food restaurants, or bakeries, especially in areas where offices are concentrated. Tansel (Turna) noticed this deficiency in 2018 and said 'Let's open a salad bar' because he trusted me about coming up with different salads like our traditional 'gün tabagi' (plate of the day). We worked on our menu together with our families, and opened our first Bibi’s in 2019 in Soho. I had no experience about this business but Tansel (my husband) and his family were in this business for almost 35 years in Turkey. This helped us a lot. We opened Bibi’s as a lunch place but the last one in Angel is a bit different than the others because we serve wine, raki, spritz and mezzes to accompany dinners.
London is described as a multi-cultural, multi-colourful city, do you see indicators of that in food culture and politics?
London is a global city, a place where culture and innovation come together. The coexistence of different cultures and people brings along a diverse food culture. Since the British don’t have too many specialities other than pub food and fish and chips (which I really like), they get their richness in food by collecting from the cuisines of other countries, and I think they are very happy with it.
Why do you stay a Londonder, what makes this city perdurable?
Kindness, civilisation, opportunities, getting rewarded for your hard work.
If you could add a new custom/habit to the London lifestyle from your hometown, what would it be?
Editor's note: To know more about Billur, subscribe to Aposto Istanbul and wait until Sunday for the guide that she prepared for the real hunters of the city.
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Inhabitant: Meriç Canatan, neighbourhood: Hackney Wick, city: London. The issue will be published this Sunday. Make sure you subscribe to Soli.
We would like you to meet Soli, a weekly digital zine of neighbourhoods to dig into urban culture, people's stories, and sociocultural dynamics. Soli started with a need to change the way of seeing the city. Do we have to go far to travel? Can we be awakened by visiting the adjacent neighbourhood? Maybe a quick conversation with a neighbour could transform our perception. And it does.