7 Quirky and Alternative Date Ideas in London

Dating Needn’t be a Disabling Dilemma

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‘Date’. A word that has the power to inspire overwhelming fear or excitement, a word that can rouse nauseating nerves in many an otherwise confident and composed individual. It is a word that has the ability to make the end of a busy working week particularly promising and shine like a beacon of hope and tantalization. The reason being is that a date is simple in theory only. In reality dates represent a medley of factors that invariably say a lot about the person whom has organised them. They represent an opportunity; the fatigued wheels of the daily routine could be replaced with sleek alloys of adventure. In truth, the devil really is in the detail when it comes to dates. In a world of first impressions, the choices you make when picking a date can lay the foundation for the meeting ahead. Many people fall into the trap of adopting date ‘tropes’, in that they select a setting that may not be completely conducive to fostering a relationship with another. For instance, can one really say that meeting someone you barely know to spend the proceeding 2 hours in a darkened cinema, with the echoing of rustling wrappers and the silhouettes of emerging latecomers peppering the scene is an effective way of deepening bonds? Perhaps this is less awkward after you’ve known someone for a while, but on an early date it is often a way to douse a spark that could be conversely ignited with engaging conversation.

Alternatively, one could fret over a first date at a fine dining establishment. These costly endeavours arouse dilemmas when it comes to navigating levels of formality. Not only do they mediate different opinions on who should pay the bill, they can be considered too official for an introductory meeting. However, dating concerns aren’t exclusively the realm of singletons. Those in relationships too need engage with exciting activities to maintain a level of romance. That so, it is all the more important to abandon the stale traditions of unoriginal venues and show your partner just how thoughtful you are with an inspired date.

In this article, I have listed ideas that would make for a memorable date in London. I am listing 7 novel date ideas that would hopefully help you break the ice and not your spirits. Be original rather than clichéd with inspired dating ideas.

1 Preserve the magic with Taxidermy classes

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The first entry on my list certainly fits the parameters of a quirky and unusual activity. As unusual as it sounds, taxidermy workshops mark a rising trend and London has several options when pursuing it. Although at first, the thought of picking entrails from a deceased creature could understandably beguile rather than romance; there is certainly artistry to the craft that would change your mind on the matter. An example of these workshops is the ‘Curious Menagerie’, based in Seven Sisters, East London. Certainly, the captivatingly gothic act of taxidermy would make for an irrevocable access point when getting to know someone.

The courses, needless to say, are not for the squeamish and occupy a whole day’s worth of activities. The courses are priced from £70- £150 depending on the size of the animal, which is most often a small mammal, but includes birds and butterflies. The classes incorporate all the stages of taxidermy from skinning, cleaning, tanning, mounting and finishing, and provide each student with their own completed work at the end of the day. Supplies are included, so all that is required is an open mind and a companion to share the experience with. What can make for a more compelling anecdote that the story in which two lovers met at the beautified body of a dead animal? It must be said that all of the animals are ethically and legally sourced and much like dating itself, represent the rejuvenating attraction to be found from anguish. Although class sizes are very small, there is also the opportunity to book private one to one or group sessions.

2 Hang Late in an Art Gallery Haunt

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The second option on my list includes the ‘Art Gallery Late’ sessions across various venues in London. These are becoming increasingly popular as an informal method of coming into contact with London’s High Art Scene and undoubtedly blend an impressive cultural insight with a jovial and more intimate atmosphere when looking to spend time with a date. For instance, the ‘Friday Night Lates’ available at the National Gallery are held from roughly 6-9pm at London’s breath-taking Neoclassical Goliath and represent a different artistic activity each week. For instance, the sessions often include guided tours with a wine reception in the Sainsbury Wing Foyer, life drawing classes, live music and late exhibition openings. A popular and vibrant ‘Late’ is held at the British Library. These are less regular but are decidedly more edgy, including DJ sets and more daring workshops and performances within the historical establishment.

Alternatively, why not indulge in ultimate Rococo decadence when attending one of the special events held in London’s Wallace Collection? The Wallace Collection regularly hosts special evening events and lectures that occasionally invite the attendee to dress up in full Marie Antoinette pomp.

3 Take Horror Movies to the Streets with a Haunted History Walk

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Alternatively, why not opt for a Haunted History Walk? Rather than rely on the inevitably disappointing scares of a Horror Movie at your local cinema, take on the heart palpitations as you promenade along London’s ghastly avenues with your date in hand. Options for a Haunted History Talk are many, just as the macabre urban legends that inspire them are. One in particular may be the ‘Jack the Ripper Tour’, held nightly at 6:40 in London’s Tower Hill.

This tour will take you across the streets of East London as the story of the Whitechapel murders are relayed in their real life setting. Despite the forensic evidence that suggests the real life culprit that came to life in 2014, the tale of Jack the Ripper is one that retains its enigmatic appeal. There is little that is more stimulating than the unknown, and it is with the tale of the unknown one is given the opportunity to navigate the unknowable future to be with their partner from such a mysterious and notable date. Prices are modest at £10 a ticket and could make for a great opening for a continued evening elsewhere.

4 Stimulate the Senses at the Sir John Soane Museum

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As we’ve discussed, the art of dating can be chaotic and trying to choose one successfully can lead to a disconcerting sense of confusion. However, if one were to have a setting, which in itself is a sensory smorgasbord, then logic dictates the time shared with your date would be one of a clear focus. Luckily the Sir John Soane Museum does just that. The museum is distinct from many of its peers in that rather than presenting individual pieces of art on a pedestal with a curatorial selectivity, the museum in itself is a walk-in treasure trove, wherein there is something to captivate your imagination in every nook and cranny. Styled as a ‘wunderkammer’, or a ‘cabinet of curiosities’, the museum is an eclectic mix of the intellectual interests of the titular architect of the Bank of England building. Walking throughout the house, one is treated to an array of edifying and fascinating delights set in the refined setting of an 18th Century London Town House.

The collection is comprised of over 20,000 architectural drawings, antiquities and works by Turner and Hogarth to name a few. There is also the Egyptian Sarcophagus of Seti I on display. Sir John Soane Museum is found in London’s Lincoln’s Inn and is open from 10am – 5pm, Monday – Saturday.

5 Engage with the Occult at Treadwell’s Bookshop

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A trip to a bookshop may not immediately rouse an image of a compelling date, particularly with mental images of Bernard Black haranguing his suffering customers being a potential threat to the fans of British sitcoms. However, Treadwell’s esoteric bookshop runs no such risk. A bookshop set in Bloomsbury, Treadwell’s focuses solely on the arcane arts and may sound akin to the setting of a London-based sequel to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. However, it isn’t a session of perusing occult tomes of which I recommend. Rather, what is advised is set of unusual events held by Treadwell’s. For instance, is there a better icebreaker than for a pair of daters to partake in a Tarot Workshop, wherein they can develop the skills to read the future of their love life without having to ask any probing questions? However, Treadwell’s hosts a variety of events, which occur on different nights of the week and most often take place between 7:30 – 9pm. It is hard to specify the exact nature of these events as they are far ranging. What you should expect are lectures, talks and workshops pertaining to all that is mysterious, magical and most certainly not mundane.

6 Take a Horse-bound Promenade in Hyde Park

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What can be considered more romantic than a horseback stroll through the expansive Hyde Park? Put a modern twist on old-fashioned notions of chivalry as you and a partner partake in a couple’s session riding an individual steed throughout one of London’s largest Royal Parks. Hyde Park Stables allows you to book a semi-private lesson or ride, from Monday-Sunday at a price of £69 per hour. Here you will be coached according to your equestrian experience (no experience is necessary however) and will be given the chance to get to know your partner as you take in the beautiful surroundings along 5 miles of bridleways. Riding hats, boots and wet weather gear are provided and it recommended that if booking for a weekend session, you do so a week in advance.

7 Revel in the Drama of a Parliamentary Debate

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For the politically savvy dater, is there a better entertainment than watching enraged politicians lock horns in Parliament? Even for those who haven’t adopted the political bug, diffusing dating nerves by observing representatives debating with vitriol and vigour surely makes for intimate in-jokes with your partner. What an impetus for dating conversation once the tension of the debaters has dispensed. The galleries for parliamentary debates are open to all UK residents and overseas visitors and tickets are free. Debates include Prime Minister’s Question time and other issues more contingent on particular issues and legislature. The times for these debates range from 2:30pm-10pm and their duration time varies. However, it must be said that it is advised to be as early as possible as queues can quickly build.

I hope my list has helped remedy the ubiquity dilemma of dating ideas. My list includes dates that range from costing nothing at all, to admittedly higher budgets. However, each is surely to leave a lasting impression or help cement one you have already made. Whether it’s a first date or one after a string of many, there’s no excuse for making your romantic trip or excursion a forgettable thing to do in London.

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