From bowling to bingo: A beer at the boozer is no longer enough for south west Londoners

From bowling to bingo and crazy golf to ping-pong, south west London has seen a rise in concept bars to satisfy a new wave of hipster drinkers.

At some point in the last five years, Londoners got bored. Gone are the days when a chilled pint and a packet of Nobby’s nuts made for a good night out.

All Star Lanes, a bar and restaurant turned bowling alley, kick started this trend of concept bars. Now they’re cropping up everywhere.

Lynda Whyte Rebel Bingo operational manager thinks post-recession London is now on the hunt for better value for their evenings, she said: “They don’t just want to sit in a pub somewhere, if they are going to invest that money in going out they want to be receiving more for it.”

When Rebel Bingo teamed up with the Clapham Grand to host their hipster re-branding of middle-aged women’s favourite pastime, they found hoards of 20-somethings streaming through their doors to drink, dance and dab their way to a range of prizes.

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Popular London nightlife site DesignMyNight’s most frequent searches include ‘quirky things to do’ and ‘something a little bit different’, giving bored Londoners who yearn to break out of the monotony of drinks on the high street a number of unique options.

But it doesn’t stop at bowling and bingo. In the past couple of years, the trend has made its way south with Brew in Putney incorporating a heated outdoor cinema and themed bars such as Putney’s Toy Shop and Battersea’s School House providing novel surroundings for a weekend socialising.

The Four Thieves pub in Battersea launched an entire floor dedicated to serving up booze with a side of frivolous gaming, including crazy golf, an interactive escape game, retro arcade games and even a giant toy race track.

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Dan Luker, The Four Thieves general manager, said: “I think it’s an exciting time for pubs the more people that realise there are many ways that you can entertain.”

So what’s the driving force behind this new clamouring for the quirky and different?

A 2014 Eventbrite study that found of American millennials (aged 18-34) three out of four would rather spend money on experiences than on possessions.

So are London’s youth echoing the thoughts of their transatlantic counterparts?

DesignMyNight’s Leighanne Bent says that with the range of options available Londoners are now demanding something new, she said : “Londoners have a ‘ready, set and go’ attitude when it comes to experiencing something a little bit different.”

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It’s not just the bars that are branching out, even south London’s club promoters are ditching the traditional DJ-led nights in favour of something more conceptual.

Last October, Flames and Fortune, the company behind Rebel Bingo, hosted an End of the World party at the Electric club in Brixton.

News reports kept club goers informed about the impending Armageddon while they were encouraged to enjoy a final night of frenzy, requesting a last song and partying the night away with surreal performers including a hula-hooping Elvis.

Despite its recent en vogue, revamping games in drinking establishments is not a new concept.

In the 70s and 80s American arcade game company Atari would road test new products by leaving them in select bars and using their popularity as a gauge for the future success of the game.

With the new wave of activity bars and competitive socialising taking London by storm, these vintage games have found a new lease of life, rebranded as retro, they are the new obsession of Londoners.

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