A few minutes away, the only clue that the A10 Russian Bar (267 Kingsland Road, 44-780-942-5905) isn’t your regular vodka-and-pelmeni pub is the line of lithe scenesters outside on weekend nights. The basement club, which is decorated with old Soviet posters, is publicized mostly by word of mouth and MySpace.
The speakeasy vibe continues two doors down at the Melange Social Club (281 Kingsland Road, 44-789-635-0086; www.myspace.com/melangesocialclub). By day, the place seems willfully abandoned. But at night the candelabra-filled bar and sprawling basement come alive with film screenings, poetry readings and late-night D.J. sessions. Parties there rarely end before 8 a.m.
The young new arrivals are also infiltrating old Hackney institutions. At the Bethnal Green Workingmen’s Club (44-46 Pollard Row, 44-207-739-7170; www.workersplaytime.net), a 53-year-old social club for neighborhood laborers, wrinkled veterans now rub elbows with fresh-faced 20-somethings for long nights of beer and bingo. The musty, wood-paneled room upstairs also holds burlesque nights, dance parties and the occasional circus act. On a recent Saturday night, a D.J. played ’60s pop music, while a burlesque dancer in a beret and little else writhed on stage.
Evidence of Hackney reborn is popping up all over. In an abandoned building that used to house the struggling neighborhood paper The Hackney Gazette, an artist collective, Passing Clouds Works (440 Kingsland Road, 44-207-168-7146; www.passingclouds.org), now holds art workshops, film series, experimental theater and music concerts. Visitors are asked to call in advance. During a recent Sunday night jam session, nearly 25 musicians crowded into the space. A dreadlocked African man played the djembe, an African drum, accompanied by a tall, bearded Englishman on trumpet. And they were in perfect harmony.