267 Kingsland Rd, London E2 8AS
Situated halfway between Shoreditch and Dalston on Kingsland Road in the venue that was formerly known as The Russian Bar, The Shelter has an easy-to-spot location on the main street and, helpfully, is very close to a bus stop. The exterior is pretty industrial-looking with black painted walls and a monochrome light-up sign that wouldn't look out of place in Berlin. Pass the (slightly scary-looking) security staff on the door and you'll step into the small, dark venue.
There is a medium-sized bar, a DJ booth and a dance floor at the back, and an assortment of wooden tables and bench-type seating down one side, with candles on each table adding to the dim - almost seedy - red-toned lighting. A black and white theme runs throughout, with one wall completely covered in simple wallpaper and stripey pillars across the bar. Disco balls and exposed pipe details complete the look. Head down a dingy-looking staircase and you'll hit another intimate room with more seating and a more chilled-out vibe. The toilets are downstairs too – there are locks on the doors, but ladies, be prepared to hover.
The Shelter is about as unpretentious as it gets. Expect to find a mixture of east London creatives looking for a party vibe later on in the evening and electro geeks who simply want good tunes. Either way, the decor is second to everything else and this gives the venue a particularly laid-back, relaxed vibe. Staff are friendly but firm and able to deal with a crowd that parties until 5am. The venue will open from Wednesday to Sunday – things really hot up post-1am when other venues in the area start kicking out.
This is not the place to come if you want to end your night with commercial sing-a-long tracks. The focus is on quality and underground from house to techno music.
The line-up at the bar is simple yet sufficient for the crowd. Beers cost £4 for a bottle or pint and the selection includes Becks, Asahi, Peroni, Carlsberg, Guinness and San Miguel. Shots cost £3, while wine is £5 a glass or £20 for a bottle, while Cava costs a little more. If you're after a spirit or mixer, it's a fiver, while visiting before midnight gets you a quid off most drinks - just ask nicely.
The Last Word
Genuine, music-focused and intimate, this seemingly seedy venue is the perfect bar if you're a music geek or if you simply want to dance the night away.
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