Falling out of London's Dalston Kingsland Station on a Thursday night is met with the calling thud for all local disco dancers. Once you swim through the lingering fishy whiff of the market day, a rainbow blur ahead rounds up the regulars and those who have travelled from afar – aka West London.
Met with a red carpet and bouncer Felicia, Ridley Road Market Bar is London's worst kept secret. To avoid queues and allow for ultimate limb throwing, Thursday has become the new Friday – especially with slushie-cocktails, Red Stripes and tequila shots at double-take worthy prices.
Once through the swinging entry doors, the black and white checkered vinyl opens up into the dance floor. A weekly rotating disc jockey schedule keeps things fresh and gives an excuse for it to become a regular spot. With free entry, no guest list and a cash-free bar, Ridley is the ultimate destination for a spontaneous boogie.
It seems pretty mean to be taunting you with your new favourite bar during a lockdown. Still, one of OOS' favourite photographers and Ridley regular Imogen Chandulal took her film camera to one of their final nights before quarantine and captured the magic for you.
The emerging photographer and soon-to-be CSM graduate describes the standout night as: "One of my favourite things about Ridley Road is the major outfits that come with it. I remember that night Bailey leapt into the bar with candy floss pink hair and my favourite Palace jacket. There were lots of berets, and everyone just looked divine (although it's hard not to with the sexy checkered floor under you)." The 22-year-old continues, "My all-time favourite DJ and now friend Kat matched her tunes with some bejewelled Juicy Couture velour joggers which I feel embodies her DJ sets perfectly."
Chandulal continues, "while there are always people who go a bit over the top with their outfit choices (mainly me), the effortless look is always present; I guess it is typical of the area. The people who come to Ridley make it what is, being one of the reasons I love taking pictures there so much. Everyone has so much character, and you can always see this in how they dress, loud and proud."
After tracking down some of the featured faces in Chandulal's photos, OOS asked them to each describe the market bar in five words, a tough job but one they all nailed...
Kundai Munetsi: "Cinematic Tarantino sensual dance epilogue."
Bailey Slater: "East London's grooviest little haunt."
Frankie Tyler: "Fave place for a boogie."
Paul Toner: "Sweaty, passion fruit mojitos, Kuntessa."
Molly Mayo: "Really cheap gin and tonic."
Emily Smith: "Unorthodox dance moves and gin."
Daniel McCarthy: "Gin blood orange equals perfection."
Kuntessa: "Iconic, cosy, family, inclusive and vibezzzzz."
Chandulal has just launched her first zine Unchain with Issue 2 coming soon, keep your eyes peeled on her Instagram for that too!
By Niamh Rooney
Photography by Imogen Chandulal