I’ve written about it on here before, and I’ll write about it every time we’re lucky enough to come across another example, but we love a proper rock’n’roll club. What do I mean ‘proper’? I mean a venue where the sole aim is to play good music, loudly, where there’s room to dance, a good crowd of folk to enjoy it with and – if you want icing on your cake – a decent bar and close enough to civilisation not to need a detailed plan for getting there!
The Rhythm Rocket Rockabilly Club is all of those things. It’s been running for a while, but last Saturday was the first time we’d managed to be in London when it was on and, boy, what a find it was. Nestling just behind Waterloo Station in the Westminster Bridge Road, upstairs at the Horse and Stables pub, it’s accessible by bus, tube, rail or foot as you choose, and the pub’s got a good range of beers on tap to keep thirst at bay. And you’ll need it, as the DJs keep up a steady stream of tracks ranging freely across the spectrum from rock’n’roll, rockabilly, R’n’B and even the odd well-chosen slice of hillbilly. It fills up fast, too; when we arrived just half an hour after the 8.00 pm opening time, there was already a good turnout, though we noticed that quite a few seemed to be from the ‘jive dance school’ scene who slipped away early when the floor started to get too crowded to comfortably run through their moves. By 10.00, the floor was packed with hard-jiving couples, with new arrivals lining the stairs. It was good to see boppers on the dance floor, too – guys and gals indulging in a full-on rockabilly shakeout.
We were particularly impressed by the selection of tracks – everything from classic rock’n’roll that you wouldn’t imagine being played in clubs any more, through records popular on the scene for decades, to a few that sent us scurrying up to find out what they were and making notes to take home and research. Like our favourite rockabilly dive, the Rockin’ Bones (re-opening soon after a makeover of its Camden basement home), the Rhythm Rocket is the kind of club you can rely on to fill an evening with the kind of music you want to hear, enough room to dance and a mix of old and new faces to share it with.
The Rhythm Rocket is running monthly, with future dates already on their Facebook Page. There’s a special live night, too, on 4 March, when it becomes the Hillbilly Hideout with A Jay Wade and the Tennessee No 9, with special guest Gordon Doel of the Doel Brothers.
There just aren’t enough ‘proper’ rock’n’roll clubs around these days, especially in the heart of London, so it’s worth cherishing the ones you find. We’ll be there every time we can make the diary work.
This article appeared first in Now Dig This Magazine.