Valentine’s Day is the marmite of festive occasions. Love it or loathe it, there’s no getting away from the fact that if you want to head out for a meal this Saturday, you’ll struggle to find anywhere that won’t already be booked out with couples dining elbow-to-elbow in an environment festooned in pink and red with heart-shaped balloons at every turn.
If this activates your automatic gag reflex, here’s a list of alternative things-to-do in the capital this weekend.
There are a number of Anti-Valentine’s Day parties/events taking place:
Back for the third year running, Bounce will be hosting a platonic party with wood-fired pizzas, cocktails and lots of ping pong (which is what it’s known for). There will also be a DJ and plenty of opportunity to dance the night away (with nary a slow-dance in sight). Warning – all the female allocated tickets have been sold so there are only tickets for men available. Not sure why that is, considering it’s supposed to be a platonic party?! But you can check it out for further info here.
Source in Battersea will be holding their annual Anti-Valentine’s Day pig-out. For £35, you can experience a three-course, “Nose-to-Tail” menu centred around…yes, you guessed it, the pig! A cocktail is also included in the price. See here.
Go Speed-Hating. At this alternative event, you don’t have to put on a cheery act to impress another singleton. Armed with a fake name, you are actively encouraged to have a good old moan about everything that irks you. You can also play “Blind Hate” where you get to ask more in-depth questions. So forget about what kind of job they do or how many kids they might like. Get down to the nitty gritty questions like “If I turned into a zombie, which household implement would you use to finish me off?” The event takes place tonight and tomorrow, with tomorrow night being reserved for Gay Down With Dating. See here for details.
For those who prefer their hearts ripped out and still pumping (!) why not see My Bloody Valentine at the Prince Charles Cinema and get a free bloody cocktail with every ticket.
It’s sold out now but I had to give a quick mention to a talk called A Night with Venus – A Lifetime on Mercury at the Old Operating Theatre tomorrow evening. Those with tickets will get to hear all about how mercury was used to treat sufferers of the pox or syphilis and how the treatment was often worse and more painful than the disease itself. And if that doesn’t have you running for the hills, away from the opposite sex and ducking the arrows of a certain chubby youngster along the way, nothing will!
Even for die-hard V-Day fans you can minimise the cheese factor and maximise the brownie points with your beloved by celebrating in a more creative and unusual way. Here are a few suggestions:
For theatre buffs, I’d heartily recommend seeing Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre. The production has undergone a cast-change of late but the production remains funny and joyous and very romantic. Visit their website here for details.
Broken Hearts and Promises is a Valentine’s Day-themed pop-up party by the organisers behind Nordic Yulefest. They’re throwing a fabulous bash in the rather grand Bloomsbury House where there will be disco, cocktails and a Lulu Guinness kissing booth. There will also be heart-shaped pinatas which you’re invited to beat in order to try and win the prizes inside. For an extra tenner on the ticket price you can watch True Romance within the special 100-seater cinema. For more info and for tickets, click here.
For cinephiles, there’s plenty to choose from. Whether it’s classic films like The Philadelphia Story, Bringing up Baby (BFI Southbank) and Breakfast at Tiffany’s (Prince Charles Cinema) or more “twisted” screenings like The Honeymoon Killers, Harold and Maude or The Virgin Suicides (The Barbican), LOVE, in all its complexities, is covered.
On a side note, I noticed that a number of cinemas are showing Ryan Gosling films – Blue Valentine at The Prince Charles and a double bill of The Notebook and Drive at pop-up cinema The Nomad which will be setting up at Hyde Park. A bit of advice to you menfolk out there….Yes, she’ll be thrilled you’ve taken her to see a RG film (so mega brownie points there) but it might backfire and invite some unfavourable comparisons later on. Don’t say I didn’t warn you…
Take your partner to a live music gig. Time Out have published a comprehensive list to suit all musical tastes. Check it out here. As Shakespeare wisely said:
If music be the food of love, play on.
Indulge in a couples’ spa day at one of London’s best spas. See list here.
Head to Columbia Road market for fresh flowers and that cool, East-London vibe.
Feline Lonely? (not my pun, honest!) Give the gift of love and attend the Battersea Cats and Dogs home event of the same name on Friday 13th Feb whereby couples, friends or adults attending solo can meet some of the resident cats over a glass of bubbly and a piece of cake. There are a limited selection of tickets available on the day (see their website here) and if you can’t attend you can still send a kitty a Valentine’s present. So have your heart melted by a whiskery face and furry paws. You never know, you may meet some like-minded cat lover that’s just purrrfect for you (still not my pun – it’s on their website if you don’t believe me). And if you don’t meet a like-minded mate…well you can always give a home to a few moggies and fully embrace being a single cat lady/laddy! You’re likely to get a whole lot of love in return…
So go on. Spread the love!