12 Bar Club, Denmark Street, Soho London
Our favourite central London venue.
(Feature: ©urban75, 23rd Feb 2009
One of the smallest live music venues in London, the building dates back to 1635 where it served as a stable before being converted into a forge for the St. Giles area.
The forge was used up to the World War 1 (the fireplace forms the back of the stage), and the building became a carpenter's shop before being converted into store rooms in the late 1940s.
Its musical heritage began in the 1980s when Andy Preston of the nearby Andy's Guitar Workshop founded the Forge Folk & Blues Club, an intimate social club and music venue for workers at the guitar centre.
Expanded and renamed the 12 Bar Club in 1994, it's now one of the few old-school live venues left in central London that hasn't either been closed or turned into a ghastly style bar.
We love the 12 Bar Club!
The club showcases around 4 acts a night, every nights of the week, and you can expect to see anything from solo performers to full bands jammed on to one of the smallest stages in the West End.
Inside, there's an interesting layout, with the frankly bonkers live room having a tiny upstairs area holding around 15 (small) people and a dirty great big beam blocking the view for anyone standing on the side downstairs.
There's a back room with snooker table, a long and narrow bar area and a cafe in the front - open from 10am until 9pm.
It's easy to find too being close to the intersection of Charing Cross Rd, Oxford St and Tottenham Court Rd.
We love the place!
('Scuse the quality of the pics - they were all taken on my 'umble Palm Centro phone.)
The fabulously odd Lonesome Cowboys From Hell, live at the Anti Folk festival, 12 bar, 21st Feb, 2009.
Offline favourites Filthy Pedro onstage, 4th Oct 2008.
The excellent David Cronenberg's Wife.
Lurking behind the beam is Major Matt Mason. You can see the 'intimate' gallery above.
The original balcony section used to project closer to the stage, so that people underneath at the back wouldn't be able to see the heads of bands with tall musicians! (see below for example). In 2006, the balcony size was reduced.
The well stocked bar.
The snooker room.
We loved the 70s memorabilia on the walls of the snooker room. Any place with pictures of Aladdin Sane and Suzi Quatro on the wall is alright by me!
The front of the club.
Archive photos: May 2004
Helen McCookeryBook at the 12 Bar, 3rd May 2004.
The incredible headless band! You can see how cramped the area below the balcony used to be in this view. 3rd May 2004.
Looking down on the band. The view from the balcony. 22nd May 2004.
deXter Bentley on stage.
We reviewed them thus: "The band were great. Despite their multi-instrumentalist ensemble being jammed into an impossibly small space, they served up an eccentric, quirky, funny and uplifting set.
Lord knows how you'd describe their set - I guess a mix of 00s acoustic folk meets XTC meets the Kinks comes close. They describe themselves as a 'no-fi neo-folk quintent' if that helps..."
Headlining the night were the the Schla La Las, a now-defunct five piece, all-girl band with attitude.
Resplendent in matching outfits, the four guitarists produced a fabulous wall of sound, with Delia Dansette keeping the beats fast and furious and their upfront mix of 60s tunes mixed with punk sensibilities setting the place alight.
12 Bar Club, Denmark Street
London WC2H 8NL (UK)
Phone (+44) 020 7240 2120